We begin today in Proverbs 10. We enter into that part of the book (the next 13 chapters) where Solomon (or whoever put the book together based in individual sayings of Solomon) offers one-liners of wisdom. We must keep two things in mind, however. First, this wisdom is for those who seek wisdom, that is, who fear the Lord and obey His Word. Second, these are not absolute promises. Since each line is a self-contained offering of wisdom, we will not consider every verse. Let’s begin…
10:3 speaks of satisfaction with what we have. The wise is content with what God gives him, the wicked are never satisfied. Verse 4 tells us that laziness leads to the lack of even basic needs (see 2 Thess 3:10). Verse 5 contrasts those who work for more than their immediate needs with those who don’t even do that. Working overtime is Biblical! Verse 8 advises us to shut up and listen when necessary. Verse 12 is speaking of our reactions to wrongdoing. We can add sin upon sin, or we can lovingly lead someone to repentance (see 1 Pet 4:8). Verse 16 speaks of laying up treasures in heaven rather than earth (see Matt 6:19-24).
In verse 17, we see that heeding wisdom is the path to eternal life. We already know that the end of the fool (sinner) is sure. But here we are told such foolishness will lead others astray (see Matt 18:6). In verse 19, we have another call to listen more and speak less, and in verses 20-21 a call to speak wisdom when we do speak. Verse 22 is one of those sayings that cannot be taken as an absolute promise. Remember, it is the wise who are blessed by God (8:32-34). And while God will not chasten those who seek wisdom, the sins of others (and ourselves) still bring sorrow. Verses 27-30 share a theme. The wise and obedient have long life, joy. the protection of God, and the preservation of God. The wicked fool tends to have a short life, unfulfilled desires (see v. 3), spiritual death, and removal from God’s presence (“the land”).
11:1 speaks of fairness in business. Verse 4 is another call to lay up treasures in heaven (see also v. 7). Verse 5 tells us that righteousness breeds righteousness, and wickedness breeds wickedness. Righteous living avoids certain pitfalls that wickedness inevitably leads to (v. 8). Verses 10-11 speak of how righteous or wicked living greatly affect those around us. Conversely, how we treat others affects us (v. 17, 25). Verse 12 speaks of avoiding bad mouthing people and verse 13 of avoiding gossip.
In verse 19, we are told again that the ends of the righteous and the wicked are sure. Note in verse 20 that the heart of the wicked and the ways of the righteous are contrasted. The heart will always work itself out in our actions. Verse 22 warns against judging someone purely for their physical beauty. God will reward the generous, and take from those who do not give what they ought (v. 24, 26). In verse 30, we see that the actions of the righteous produce fruit, that is, the outcome of their actions lead others to life through wisdom (obedience). Verse 31 warns that what we do not only has eternal consequences, but we reap what we sow in this life.
Chapter 12 begins with a contrast of those who love discipline and those who hate it (12:1). One knows it brings knowledge, the other is, plainly speaking, stupid. Verse 2 echoes 11:31. In verse 5, what proceeds from the mouth comes from within (see 11:20 and Matt 15:10-20). The wicked harm with their words, whereas the wise save with their words (v. 6, 18). Verse 9 calls for genuine living. Don’t try to “put on airs” or act the part of someone you aren’t (see Rom 12:3). The wise cares for his animals (pets or cattle), but the fool is so cruel that even his “mercy” is cruel (v. 10). Verse 11 speaks of working to provide for yourself and your family.
In verse 13, we see that the words of the evil (foolish) lead them into trouble that the righteous (wise) avoid (see 11:8). Verse 15 speaks of human nature – if we do it, we think it’s right. Often, we will not even entertain correction. But the wise person listens and considers his ways. Verse 16 speaks of how we react to insults. If we are easily offended, we’re a fool. If we can ignore it, we are wise (“ignore” can also be translated “forgive”). Verse 19 speaks of the eternality of truth and of the truthful. Verse 23 talks about keeping secrets. Verse 25 speaks of the value of encouraging others. Verse 26 is better translated “the righteous seeks his friend…”. The idea is that the wise are prudent about who they spend time with, while the fool tends to keep poor company. Verse 28 tells us the sure end of the wise (see 10:17).