John T. Willis

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Proverbs 12:21-23

Proverbs 12:21-23 contain three instructive contrasts between the righteous and the wicked.

12:21--No harm happens to the righteous,
but the wicked are filled with trouble.
This statement does not naively shut the eye to the fact that bad things happen to good people or that good things happen to bad people, but is taking the long look at life. In the long haul, God blesses the righteous in multiple ways, but punishes the wicked in multiple ways.

12:22--Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
but those who act faithfully are his delight.
This proverb continues the emphasis on the importance of speaking the truth in verses 17 and 19. Sin is very serious, because it corrupts the sinner and spreads pain and sorrow throughout society. So God hates sin. It is an abomination to him, because he does not want his creatures to destroy themselves. It is a joy to him when people choose to speak and act faithfully.

12:23--One who is clever conceals knowledge,
but the mind of a fool broadcasts folly.
Picking up the idea already stated in verse 16, the poet declares that a fool is ready at any moment to state his/her opinion on any and every issue. By contrast, a wise or prudent [clever?] person quietly and wisely keeps silent until he/she has thought through the matter under discussion, and weighs the implications of several possible conclusions.

John Willis

Monday, June 04, 2007

Proverbs 12:13-20

Proverbs 12:13-20 deal with a person's speech.

12:13--The evil are ensnared by the transgression of their lips,
but the righteous escape from trouble.

12:14--From the fruit of the mouth one is filled with good things,
and manual labor has its reward.

12:15--Fools think their own way is right,
but the wise listen to advise.

12:16--Fools show their anger at once,
but the prudent ignore an insult.

12:17--Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,
but a false witness speaks deceitfully.

12:18--Rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

12:19--Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

12:20--Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil,
but those who counsel peace have joy.

What are some abiding truths affirmed in this section of Proverbs?

1. A person's speech can enhance his/her influence for good or get him/her into great trouble (verses 13, 19). Many believe that what they say is inconsequential, but the Bible teaches that one's speech has profound consequences.
2. One who is wise listens to the advice of godly people (verse 15). Someone once said that God gave us one mouth and two ears to teach us to listen twice as much as we speak. We can benefit greatly from the thoughts and words of those who seek to serve God.
3. Speaking the truth is a high priority in the eyes of God (verses 17, 19). Lying or deceit is very displeasing to God, and therefore leads to one's ruin. Whether it be in a court case or in a private conversation, it is very important to speak the truth.
4. Gentle, encouraging speech has the power to heal and give great joy to the hearer (verses 18, 20). Godly speech promotes peace in the heart, among people, and among communities and nations. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9).

John Willis