18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns,
but the path of the upright is a highway.
20 A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish man despises his mother.
There is no advantage to being irritable, but it will cost you your peace. The most dangerous irritations are those that are justified, as they are the hardest to resist, and yet it is still foolish to indulge them. The hot-tempered person blames his problems on others, and in doing so he gives them control over himself. But all of his conflicts have one thing in common: he has chosen to stir them up. The patient person refuses to do this, why make a bad situation worse? His self-restraint gives him control of the situation, and the freedom to embrace peace.
“The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.” Here it is not the hardworking with which the sluggard is contrasted, but the upright. There is more to sloth than lack of motivation, it is also a lapse in morality. Sloth boils down to self-centeredness, but this is not the same as self-interest. The sluggard builds up excuses as unfinished work accumulates, in his attempt to escape difficulty he only creates more of it for himself. But there are no such hindrances on the path of the upright, because they do the right thing regardless of their feelings.
“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.” The consequence of wise behavior is blessedness, for yourself as well as for those with whom you relate. What is more satisfying for a father than his child’s flourishing? But the foolish man not only endures the harmful consequences of his folly, he also refuses to abandon the burden of resentment. He may have reasons to disdain his mother, but they do not ease his burden. Joy and resentment are mutually exclusive, we must choose one or the other.