The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.
The wicked does deceptive work, but they who sow righteousness will have a sure reward. It is true that evil people often seem to get rich quickly, but their wealth is unsatisfying, perishable, and unable to help them when they need it most, while the rewards of a righteous life are real and permanent.
The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.
An individual’s disposition affects their own health. The kind person avoids physical problems that being cruel brings, as those who are cruel, do good for their own soul. A cruel disposition will take its toll on the body.
A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.
A gracious woman retains respect and honor, but ruthless men may retain riches. Unfortunately, for these men, though they may have riches, they will never have a good name.
He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.
To be surety for a stranger means to guarantee their debt or promissory note. The person who does this will suffer for it, as they may have to pay the debt. The one who despises “suretiship” save themselves a lot of headaches and heartache.
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
Without wise leadership, people are bound to fall into trouble, but there is safety in having the combined judgment of many good counselors.
A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
A talebearer seems to take a malicious delight in spreading scandal, informing on others, and breaking confidences. They do not hold anything back, but tell everything they know. A faithful friend knows how to maintain a confidence and refrains from telling what they know.
He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
To belittle another individual is an insult to God, as it nurtures strife and is not a help to anyone. An individual with understanding knows that it is better to say nothing, if they can’t praise or edify another.
By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
The “blessing of the upright” may refer to their prayers for the city or their presence and godly influence in the city. In contrast, the deceit, broken promises, fraud, and profanity of the wicked are enough to ruin any local government and, eventually, a city.
When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.
There are two times when a city will celebrate, when all goes well for the righteous and when the wicked perish.
An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
A hypocrite seeks to undermine the faith of their neighbor, with doubts and denials. When a righteous individual knows the truth, it will enable them to detect the hypocrite’s belief and they will not be infected or affected by them.