John T. Willis

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Proverbs 10:17-21

The contrasts in Proverbs 10 continue in verses 17-21.

"Whoever heeds instruction is on the path of life,
but one who rejects a rebuke goes astray."

"Lying lips conceal hatred,
and whoever utters slander is a fool."

"When words are many transgression is not lacking,
but the prudent are restrained in speech."

"The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
the mind of the wicked is of little worth."

"The lips of the righteous feed many,
but fools die for lack of sense."

Verse 18 is the only verse in Proverbs 10 that does not contain a contrast [scholars call such contrasts "antithetic parallelism"]. This verse is "synonymous parallelism," that is, its two lines proclaim the same truth in different words.

Various statements about the "lips," the "tongue," "speech," "instruction," hold these verses together. What are some of the truths they declare?
1. Like verse 8, verse 17 emphasizes the importance of listening to others, even those who rebuke a person for doing or speaking or thinking wrong.
2. Verse 18 denounces lying and slander. Modern people in and out of the church ignore this godly teaching regularly. May God help us to use our tongues to encourage and affirm others, not to tear them down and try to destroy their character. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:10: "The Lord has given me [authority] for building up and not for tearing down."
3. Verse 19 warns against constantly talking, and extols the importance of controlling our tongues.
4. Verses 20-21 declare the effectiveness speech--both good and bad--, and urges us to "feed" those to whom with speak with good words that are uplifting and motivating for good, not with bad words that discourage and motivate to evil.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Proverbs 10:12-16

The contrasts in Proverbs 10 continue with these maxims in verses 12-16:

"Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses."

"On the lips of one who has understanding wisdom is found,
but a road is for the back of one who lacks sense."

"The wise lay up knowledge,
but the babbling of a fool brings ruin near."

"The wealth of the rich is their fortress,
the poverty of the poor is their ruin."

"The wage of the righteous leads to life,
the gain of the wicked to sin."

Again, the contrasts are between: (1) hatred and love; (2) the wise and the foolish; (3) godly speech and ungodly speech; (4) the rich and the poor; (5) the righteous and the wicked.

What are some of the great teachings suggested in these verses?

1. When there is division in a community, hatred of some human beings by other human beings is the cause. At the same time, the love of one or more human beings toward others creates an environment in which reconciliation and unity can occur. It is hypocritical for a person or a community to claim love for God and others, and be divided itself or be divided from others.
2. Verse 14b repeats the thought of verse 8b concerning "a babbling fool." There are those who love to talk, but in reality they have nothing wholesome and uplifting to say. However, those who are wise speak with intention, and their words edify and build up those who hear.
3. The meaning of verse 15 is difficult to determine. Could it mean something similar to Proverbs 30:7-9, which states that there is a great spiritual danger in being rich and in being poor: the rich are tempted to feel they are self-sufficient and do not need God, and the poor are tempted to feel they must steal in order to provide for themselves and their family.
4. Verse 16 affirms that when people enjoy prosperity, they may use it in one of two ways: a righteous person shares it with others and thereby honors God; a wicked person uses it selfishly to sin.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Proverbs 10:6-11

The contrasts continue in Proverbs 10:6-11:

"Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence."

"The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
but the name of the wicked will rot."

"The wise of heart will heed commandments,
but a babbling fool will come to ruin."

"Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever follows perverse ways will be found out."

"Whoever winks the eye causes trouble,
but the one who rebukes boldly makes peace."

"The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence."

What practical ideas for daily life do these maxims suggest?

1. Verses 6b and 11b say=teach the same thing. Wicked people pretend they are friends to certain individuals, while in their hearts they are planning to hurt them or even destroy them. One thinks of the description Micah 2:1-2 gives of the wicked:
"Woe to those who devise wickedness
and evil deeds on their beds!
When the morning dawns, they perform it,
because it is in their power.
They covet fields, and seize them;
houses, and take them away;
they oppress householder and house,
people and their inheritance."

2. As in verses 1-5, the contrasts in verses 6-11 are between: (1) the righteous and the wicked; (2) the wise and the foolish; (3) those who walk in integrity and the perverse; (4) godly speech and ungodly speech. These are major concerns for those who desire to please God.

3. Verses 6 and 9 emphasize God's involvement in human affairs. God blesses the righteous and makes secure those who walk with integrity; he also exposes the perverse ways of the wicked. Verse 9b calls to mind the well-known statement in Numbers 32:23: "Be sure your sin will find you out."

4. Verse 8a reminds us that a fundamental characteristic of a wise person is to submit to God's commandments instead of trying to guide one's own life.

5. "Winking the eye" in verse 10a seems to mean stirring up strife by making malicious hints (see Proverbs 6:12-14). This contrasts with "rebuking" a wrongdoer "boldly" in an effort to keep that person from sin and to protect those whom that person might harm. Proverbs 27:5-6 expresses a similar idea:
"Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts,
but profuse are the kisses of an enemy."