Study Notes over Proverbs 12:8-12
English Standard Version (ESV)
8 A man is commended according to his good sense,
but one of twisted mind is despised.
9 Better to be lowly and have a servant
than to play the great man and lack bread.
10 Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
11 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.
12 Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers,
but the root of the righteous bears fruit.
v. 8: 1 Cor 14:33 (God is not the author of confusion)
v. 10: Deut 25:4; 1 Cor 9:9.
v. 11: Prov 28:19 [“lacks sense” -> “plenty of poverty”]
v. 11: Prov 20:13, in which diligence is commended.
Who: “The righteous;” “the wicked.”
What: 1. commendation, abundance, kindness, provision, fruit-bearing; 2. a “twisted mind,” pretense, cruelty, “worthless pursuits,” coveteousness.
When: As wisdom literature, this teaching is timeless, providing a constant guide concerning the character of the righteous and the wicked.
Where: These proverbs seem to have particular application to a workplace environment.
Why: “A man is commended” because of “his good sense,” one who lives a “lowly” life is able to afford a “servant” because of his prudence, the righteous man possesses “plenty of bread” because of his diligence.
How: The wicked man’s lack of sense is demonstrated by his “worthless pursuits.”
So what: If one wishes to be commended, to have abundance, to demonstrate kindness, and to bear fruit, one must heed these words and must make sure to be counted among the righteous.
NET Bible: v. 8. “twisted mind” is literally “crooked of heart.” v. 9b. “This individual lives beyond his means in a vain show to impress other people and thus cannot afford to put food on the table.” v. 11. “sense” = “heart.”
Matthew Henry: v. 10. “mercy of the wicked” indicates that the wicked man’s natural compassion is lost, and “by the power of corruption, is turned into hardheartedness.”