At least one of the Proverbs presents a false dichotomy:
Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse.
Some of the Proverbs are apparent non sequiturs:
What a person desires is unfailing love;
better to be poor than a liar.
The book of Proverbs is not shy about recommending corporal punishment:
Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.
Blows and wounds scrub away evil,
and beatings purge the inmost being.
Some proverbs state evident truths:
A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
yet their heart rages against the LORD.
That one reminds me of a man who did not take his blood pressure meds and, when he had a stroke, wondered why God had punished him.
Kindness to those in need is a recurring theme in Proverbs:
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
Abiding by the commandments is a good idea:
Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life,
but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.
Some of the proverbs deal with business practices:
“It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer—
then goes off and boasts about the purchase.
I am not sure what that proverb actually advises. It might be a simple observation. I'm sure that it sounds different to a seller than to a buyer.
There is more advice about the conduct of business in Proverbs 20:16:
Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
That one should probably be tempered by this commandment:
If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge,
return it by sunset,
Fairness in trade is a recurring theme:
The LORD detests differing weights,
and dishonest scales do not please him.
So is sobriety:
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
And the importance of a wife who is not quarrelsome:
Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
Better to live in a desert
than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
As I've mentioned before, the Proverbs were written for, by, and about men. I have also mentioned the Proverbs ambivalence about bribery. Receiving them is bad. Giving them, not so much.
A gift given in secret soothes anger,
and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.
The attitude of the Proverbs toward the practice of sacrifice is like that of the prophets:
To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable—
how much more so when brought with evil intent!
This proverb must have been written by someone about my age:
The glory of young men is their strength,
gray hair the splendor of the old.
And this one echoes the notion "Man proposes; God disposes."
The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but victory rests with the LORD.
Commenting on the Proverbs has been challenging. There is no narrative, nor any clear organizing principle. I have been trying to pick out a few of the proverbs from each day's portion that are in some way noteworthy.
Next: Proverbs 22-23