What does Proverbs 22:9 mean?
ESV: Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.
NIV: The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.
NASB: One who is generous will be blessed, Because he gives some of his food to the poor.
CSB: A generous person will be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.
NLT: Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.
KJV: He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
NKJV: He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.
Verse Commentary:
This proverb uses a Hebrew figure of speech which literally refers to someone as "good in the eye." The phrase is often translated into English using expressions such as "generous" or "bountiful." Such qualities are directly opposed to phrases such as "evil in the eye" as seen in other verses (Proverbs 23:6). A person who is "good in the eye" sincerely seeks the good of others; they actively look for ways to help. This proverb directly connects this attitude with actions: we know such a person has a "good eye" because we see them sharing with those less fortunate.

The word "poor" identifies the feeble, weak, and helpless. Some look upon poor or disadvantaged people as targets for abuse (Proverbs 22:16, 22). The person with "a bountiful eye" looks on the poor compassionately and responds with kindness.

In Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan, a priest and a Levite looked at a man who was robbed and beaten and left half dead; they passed by on the other side of the road. Those two men lacked "good eyes." The Good Samaritan looked on the wounded man with compassion, went to him, and tended to his wounds. But he did even more; he transported the victim to an inn and provided for all his care (Luke 10:25–35).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 22:1–16 dispenses practical advice about gaining a good reputation, avoiding danger, setting children on a good path, finances, pure living, and the Lord's watchfulness and judgment. These verses also speak on the absurdity of laziness, the danger of evil words, and the sin of oppressing the poor. This completes an extensive list of wise sayings (Proverbs 10:1) attributed to Solomon.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter completes a long string of wise sayings attributed to Solomon (Proverbs 10:1). He notes that reputation and godliness are far better than money. He also notes that godly wisdom keeps a person from various dangers. Loving parents use proper discipline to instill wisdom in their children. The last portion of the chapter introduces a new passage, made up of thirty wise teachings which Solomon endorses. This string of advice continues into chapter 24.
Chapter Context:
This chapter is the last of the second division of the book, including all of chapters 10—21. This section includes some 375 verses, mostly in paired lines. Chapter 22 completes these statements, then introduces a collection of thirty wise sayings endorsed by Solomon. The first five are negative commands, warning to avoid certain vices. Chapter 23 continues with more sayings of advice.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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