What is desired in a man is steadfast love,
and a poor man is better than a liar.
The fear of the Lord leads to life,
and whoever has it rests satisfied;
he will not be visited by harm.
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish
and will not even bring it back to his mouth.
Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence;
reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.
The RSV reading in 22 is probably the best translation, 'What is desired of a man is loyalty', although an alternative rendering, 'The charm of a man is his kindness' makes good sense. With the RSV, the meaning is that when a man is loyal, he is infinitely to be preferred to a man of the greatest gifts and capabilities who is disloyal when it suits him. There are some situations in life - particularly spiritual life in which loyalty is the greatest and most important thing of all, overshadowing and outshining every other consideration. The blessings of true godliness are in view in 23. The meaning is not that the godly man will never suffer evil, but rather that evil will not harm him (cf Psalm 46:1, 2), since he dwells in the secret place of the Most High, under the shadow of the Almighty, and Paul's great word in Romans 8:28 will be fulfilled in him. The comical picture in 24 makes the point well - the words of the RSV read like a standard joke: 'He is so lazy that....'In 25 we have another example of Proverbs' invariably realistic attitude to wrongdoing: it must be dealt with. Here, it is the deterrent value of punishment, and it is the language a fool will understand - often, indeed, the only language. Some people have to learn the hard way. It is no hardship to a wise man to be reproved, 'for the truth itself is of greater value in the eyes of him who has understanding than his own dignity' (cf 1 Timothy 5:20).