Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm,
but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.
A gracious woman gets honour,
and violent men get riches.
A man who is kind benefits himself,
but a cruel man hurts himself.
The wicked earns deceptive wages,
but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.
Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,
but he who pursues evil will die.
For the thought in 15, see Note on 6:1-5, Tues. Sept. 18th, where it is discussed fully. A contrast is probably intended between 'gracious' and 'strong' in 16, as in the following verses; 'strong' must therefore have an element of 'ruthlessness' in it (RSV has 'violent'). It is a question of contrasting aims in life, and whether character or cash is the more important for us. One commentator says 'Nothing is so truly lovely and admirable as a gracious, conciliatory spirit, whether in the home, the fellowship, or in our dealings with the world'. One thinks of the lovely story of Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. Her graciousness combined wisdom, tact, prudence and forbearance - a host of admirable characteristics, much to be desired in all human relationships. Being merciful (17) is good for us. Evil attitudes are bad for the constitution for the simple reason that our constitution was not designed for them. Think what a discontented spirit within does to the face. The RSV speaks of the wages of the wicked in 18a. A man whose eye is always on the main chance may seem to get on in life, but his advancement is only seeming; he will surely come to grief (cf Psalm 37.1, 2, 9, 35, 36; 73:3ff). Sure and lasting reward lies with righteousness. Note that it is not merely 'one who is righteous', but one who 'soweth righteousness'. This is an activity, not a state, with a dynamic in it. As the Apostle John says. 'He that doeth righteousness is righteous' (1 John 3:7).