22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
Beauty is a nice thing to have, but it is no substitute for noble character. Only a fool would simply take hold of the ring without expecting to deal with the pig. And only a fool overlooks selfishness and indiscretion because of beauty, valuing appearance over character. What good is a beautiful wife if there is constant conflict? What use is a gold ring attached to a filthy pig?
“The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.” In seeking the good of others, the righteous bring goodness upon themselves. But the wicked care only about themselves, and hope in their own prosperity, regardless of how it affects others. What can this bring them but wrath? Even when their hopes are achieved, they are tainted with injustice and lacking in peace.
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Wisdom is often paradoxical. It tells us that the way to honor is through humility; the way to freedom is through discipline; the way to strength is through weakness; and here the way to abundance is through generosity. The golden rule: “do to others what you would have them do to you,” is more than a prescription of behavior – it is also a description of the way life works. People tend to respond to generosity with generosity, and to selfishness with selfishness.