20:1 This is referring to wine or beer in excess. In excess it leads to fights and disrespectful actions.
20:2–3 These verses are much like (19:11–12) The point again is that the wise person knows how to avoid quarrels, especially with the a king or government leader. *A person who is truly confident of his or her strength does not need to parade it. A truly brave person does not look for chances to prove it. A resourceful woman can find a way out of a fight. A man of wisdom will avoid retaliating. Foolish people find it impossible to avoid strife. Men and women of character can. What kind of person are you?
20:4 You’ve heard similar warnings: if you don’t study, you’ll fail the test; if you don’t save, you won’t have money when you need it. God wants us to anticipate future needs and prepare for them. We can’t expect him to come to our rescue when we cause our own problems through lack of planning and action. He provides for us, but he also expects us to be responsible.
20:5 To say that a person’s purposes are “deep” does not mean that they are necessarily profound, but like a well whose waters are far beneath the surface of the ground so that a bucket with a long rope is needed to draw water to the surface. In other words a person’s real motives are “deep” in that they are difficult to extract; so a person one must be wary of the pretenses of others.
20:6–7, and 9 These verses make the point that true loyalty and character are rare commodities. Verse 9 reminds us of the truth that we are all sinful. Verse 7, is optimistic: some people do conduct themselves with integrity and leave behind a solid family heritage.
20:8 Verse 8 calls attention to the importance of moral insight in government. It represents the standard to which a king or government leader should aspire.
20:10 A crafty merchant could use weights that were lighter or heavier than their stated amounts as it worked to their advantage. Verse 10, a fairly common proverb on God’s hatred of corrupt practices, takes on new meaning in this context. False weights and measures are not what they seem. So this proverb goes beyond an isolated type of fraud and speaks of God’s ability to recognize and his hatred of all fraud.
20:11 Conduct is the best proof of character in a child. Certainly no child who says, “I am well behaved” will find his or her words taken at face value. People will evaluate the child by how he or she behaves. The implication is that appearances and words can be deceiving; behavior is a better criterion of judgment.
20:12 People ought to use the senses God gave them. They should look deeply and listen closely rather than make superficial evaluations. Since God made the eyes and ears, he is the judge of what they do.
20:13 The number of hours one sleeps per day is not the point here. Love of sleep refers to laziness, but one can be lazy and still sleep very little.
20:14 People will say what is to their advantage at the moment. Their words should not always be taken at face value. Here again the text draws on the distinction between appearances and reality.
20:15 The rarest and finest treasure is a person who has sound judgment and can give good advice.
20:16 The Israelites were not to hold the cloak of a debtor as collateral on a loan (Exod 22:26–27). In an ironic tone this verse says one should go ahead and take the garment of someone who has fallen into financial trouble by putting up security for a stranger—especially if he did it for an alluring woman. The message is that one should be wary of dealing with people who lack good judgment.
20:17 The verse compares the initial sweetness of the con artist’s gain and his final mouth full of gravel. Thieves may not always be caught immediately but they ultimately come to ruin.
20:18 The importance of seeking sound advice is repeated (v. 15). To enter into something as serious as a war without carefully considering the matter is the ultimate in bad judgment.
20:19 This verse advises the reader not to share plans and ideas with those who talk too much. A person must discern whether another is worthy of trust.
20:20 The law provides for the execution of those who curse parents (Exod 21:17; Lev 20:9), although some doubt how frequently this was carried out. This verse is not legal but is a curse, and it expresses complete disdain for those curse parents.
20:21 Easy money does not encourage financial responsibility. The quickly gained money here is not necessarily dishonestly gained, but the point is that those who have aquired wealth slowly know better how to keep it.
20:22 The first principle of justice is not to seek vengeance for yourself but to commit the grievance to God.
20:23 Compare 20:10. This is meant to assure the reader that God does see those occasions when someone has cheated another person. *”Differing weights” refers to the loaded scales a merchant might use in order to cheat the customers. Dishonesty is a difficult sin to avoid. It is easy to cheat if we think no one else is looking. But dishonesty affects the very core of a person. It makes him untrustworthy and untrusting. It eventually makes him unable to know himself or relate to others. Don’t take dishonesty lightly. Even the smallest portion of dishonesty contains enough of the poison of deceit to kill your spiritual life. If there is any dishonesty in your life, tell God about it now.
20:24 Human discernment is severely limited. In the final analysis we do not understand all that is going on around us or happening to us, and we are guided through life in ways we do not recognize. Trusting in God is best.
20:25 Compare Eccl 5:4–6. To make a vow and then seek to retract it is to invite God’s judgment. A vow is called a trap because many would use it to make themselves look good publicly. This is a sham that does not deceive God (Matt 6:16–18).
20:26 Compare 20:8. It is not in the king’s interest of his country to treat criminals gently.
20:27 The point is that the life that men and women have from God shines within them like a burning lamp before his eyes. People are, as it were, illuminated from within before his eyes. That being the case, they cannot hide their plans, attitudes, and thoughts from God.
20:28. The king (or government) is urged to promote a positive atmosphere of mutual loyalty and respect in order to insure the stability of a nation.
20:29 Young men tend to rely upon their strength. Older men have learned the importance of wisdom and restraint, as depicted by their gray hair.
20:30 The New Living Translations says it best: 30 Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart. This points me to Jesus Christ; He took our punishment on the cross. THANK YOU JESUS!!
Giving praise to Jesus, Darrell
Life Application Bible Notes
New American Commentary