John T. Willis

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Proverbs 11:9-13

Proverbs 11:9-13 contain five contrasts, primarily concerned with the intention of wicked people to destroy others by speaking evil against them.

Verse 9: "With their mouths the godless would destroy their neighbors,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered."

Verse 10: "When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices;
and when the wicked perish, there is jubilation."

Verse 11: "By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked."

Verse 12: "Whoever belittles another lacks sense,
but an intelligent person remains silent."

Verse 13: "A gossip goes about telling secrets,
but one who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a confidence."

What practical lessons can one learn about God and the godly life from these maxims?

1. Wicked people try to destroy others by speaking evil about them. In his commentary on Proverbs in the Daily Study Bible Series, Kenneth T. Aitken writes: "The Whisperer . . . [is known] better under other names: slanderer, gossip, talebearer and the like. At his worst, the whisperer trades in slander. He thinks nothing about inventing and spreading lies about another person out of sheer spite. So the whisperer and the "perverse man" . . . are close companions (16:28). More often than not, however, the whisperer is in the more "respectable" (!) business of gossip. Naturally HE would never dream of telling a lie. So he trades in innuendoes, half-truths, and facts distorted and exaggerated beyond recognition, and spreads them for no better reason than that it makes him feel knowledgeable and important (cf. 11:12). But whether as slanderer, talebearer or gossip, the whisperer is in the business of poisoning relationships (16:28), creating strife (26:20), betraying friends and neighbours (11:13), and also assassination--the ruining of reputations and lives (cf. 11:9; Lev. 19:16)." (page 137).

2. "The blessing of the upright" mentioned in verse 11 apparently is the blessing that the upright is to others [evidently in his speech of encouragement and support and affirmation to others, and perhaps also good things he/she does for others], as the contrast to "the mouth of the wicked" in line b suggests.

3. Verse 12 teaches that it is wise ["intelligent"] to say nothing at all about others than to speak and "belittle" them, that is, say things about them to try to make them appear insignificant to others or to make them feel inferior within themselves.

4. Proverbs 11:9-13 contain basically the same message as Ephesians 4:17-5:16 with its strong emphasis on the power of speech in dealing with others.

John Willis

Monday, December 18, 2006

Proverbs 11:1-8

Except for verse 7, Proverbs 11 continues with maxims of contrast [antithetic parallelism], which one usually encounters in Proverbs 10. Here we will look briefly at verses 1-8 because of similar thoughts in some of these verses.

Verse 1: "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
but an accurate weight is his delight."

Verse 2: "When pride comes, then comes disgrace;
but wisdom is with the humble."

Verse 3: "The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them."

Verse 4: "Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death."

Verse 5: "The righteousness of the blameless keeps their ways straight,
but the wicked fall by their own wickedness."

Verse 6: "The righteousness of the upright saves them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their schemes."

Verse 7: "When the wicked die, their hope perishes,
and the expectation of the godless comes to nothing."

Verse 8: "The righteous are delivered from trouble,
and the wicked get into it instead."

What practical, eternal lessons appear in these verses?

1. There are things which are "an abomination to the Lord," that is, which he "hates" (verse 1). This is a consistent teaching in scripture, although is it offensive to many modern people [Christian and non-Christian] to think of God "hating" anyone or anything. The Bible teaches this in Deuteronomy 16:22; Proverbs 6:16-19; Isaiah 1:14; Luke 16:15; etc. According to Proverbs 11:1, Yahweh hates dishonest weights, weights used in business transactions for the purpose of deceiving and cheating someone in buying and selling. The law is very strong on this point, as Leviticus 19:35-37 and Deuteronomy 25:13-16 show.

2. True followers of God are humble, not proud (verse 2). Jesus is the sterling example of this for all believers (Mark 10:42-45). The emphasis in the Bible on godly living is on service, not on leadership. Our ONLY leader is God through Christ. All of us are servants and followers.

3. Worldly-centered thinking exalts wealth. Many human beings live their lives for the purpose of accumulating wealth. Popular publications try to justify gaining wealth, even as a "spiritual" enterprise. Of course, there ARE wealthy people whose hearts are God-centered. But the pursuit of wealth is not a godly pursuit (verse 4; see Ecclesiastes 2:1-11).

4. Verses 3 and 5-8 describe the ultimate fate or destiny of both the righteous and the wicked. These are strikingly different. The righteous [those who truly seek to live the way God directs] proceed through life in "straight ways," escape from trouble, and are delivered from death. On the other hand, the wicked [those who are not concerned about God's will, but direct their lives according to self-centered concerns and pursuits] travel "crooked" paths, experience loss and pain "by their own schemes," and fall by their own wickedness.

John Willis