Proverbs
Introduction 1 A Wise Son and a Foolish Son 2-3 Righteousness Is Life 4-5 To Work Diligently in Summer 6-7 Blessing or Rotting Away 8-10 Be Ruined or Walking Securely 11-14 The Mouth of the Righteous and of the Wicked 15-17 Security and Life or Ruin 18-21 The Use of the Lips 22-26 The Blessing of the LORD 27-28 Hope and Expectation 29-30 The Way of the LORD 31-32 The Mouth and the Lips of the Righteous
Introduction

From Proverbs 10:1 there is a remarkable change in the form of how Solomon passes on his proverbs. This changed form runs through until Proverbs 22:16. We do not find the powerful instructions there to seek wisdom and no long speeches with clear situations and persons or personifications. Instead we find what corresponds to the name of the book, Proverbs, a collection of brief and concise proverbs or pronouncements. There are about three hundred and seventy-five of them.

In the first part of the book, Proverbs 1-9, it is about two persons: the Woman of Wisdom and the Woman of Folly. In this second part, Proverbs 10:1-22:16, it is about two kinds of persons, of which each kind follows one of the mentioned women. The one kind is wise, righteous, good, etcetera; the other kind is foolish, ungodly, evil, etcetera.

The form of the proverbs in this second part consists, with a few exceptions, of two lines of the verse, whereby the second line works out the thought of the first line. This way of writing is called ‘parallelism’. The lines run parallel.

We will encounter three main types of parallelism. It is worthwhile to pay attention to that.

1. There are parallels that correspond with one another, which is also called synonymous parallelism. In that case a similar thought of the first line of the verse is repeated in the second line of the verse, written in other words. It is two parts that reflect one thought. An example of it is:
Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling. (Pro 16:1818Pride [goes] before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
)

2. There are also parallels that stand against one another, that form a contrast which is called antithetic parallelism. In that case, the opposite of what is said in the first line of the verse is written in the second line of the verse. That is often rendered by the word ‘but’ at the beginning of the second line of the verse. An example of it is:
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother. (Pro 10:11The proverbs of Solomon.
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.
)

3. A third form of parallelism is the complementary form, called synthetic parallelism. Thereby the second line of the verse gives a complement to the first line of the verse. The thought of the first line of the verse is elaborated in the second line of the verse. It is often rendered by the word ‘and’ at the beginning of the second line of the verse. An example of that is:
In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And his children will have refuge. (Pro 14:2626In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And his children will have refuge.
)

The use of these different kinds of ‘parallelism’ will make us experience the power of the separate proverbs even more. Moreover, we find this use of parallelism also in the Psalms and in Ecclesiastes.

The proverbs in this second part mainly deal with the consequences of a good or bad action. In the epistle to the Galatians, Paul says it like this: “For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal 6:7b-87Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.). The proverbs that now follow help with making and stimulating to make the good choice; in other words, sow to the Spirit. There is no such thing as a predestination for making a choice, as if it would be inevitable to make that choice. That would exclude one’s own responsibility. This book makes it clear that everyone is responsible for the choice that he makes and in that way for the consequences of that choice. That makes this book so important.

There is no clear rank order to be remarked in this part of the book, although it occurs sometimes that two or more successive proverbs are related to one another. In that case it appears from a theme or a word which is mentioned in the successive verses. The fact that in most cases there is no relation between the verses, compels the reader to examine profoundly the meaning of one single certain verse, so one specific proverb, before he goes to the following proverb.

That the context is missing, in any case in our sight, also connects to the course of daily life in which all things do not always happen according to a specific pattern, a firm order. Although we have a specific expectation pattern on the basis of experience, life is still full of surprises too. When we will be with the Lord, it may probably be the case that all kinds of happenings, between which we did not see the connection, were surely connected to one another, but which we did not notice.

Precisely because of the apparent incoherence, this book invites us to read in it day by day. It is not so much the intention to read a chapter every day. That is certainly not wrong, for in that way we get more and more familiar with the contents in general. The point is that we read one or some verses and meditate on them. Who knows, we may face a situation to which we can apply what we have read and meditated on.

In that way the proverbs in this part of the book give new impulses over and over by presenting again and again another truth or the same truth from a different point of view. God’s Spirit has, through Solomon, given to us these ‘separate’ proverbs, in which at first sight no certain rank order is to be discovered, with a purpose. He knows what we need on a certain day or in a certain situation. He is able to bring to our remembrance a certain proverb for that occasion or make us read that specific proverb at that very moment.


A Wise Son and a Foolish Son

1The proverbs of Solomon.
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.

This second part of Proverbs (Pro 10:1-22:161The proverbs of Solomon.
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.2Ill-gotten gains do not profit,
But righteousness delivers from death.
3The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger,
But He will reject the craving of the wicked.4Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
5He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
[But] he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.6Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
7The memory of the righteous is blessed,
But the name of the wicked will rot.8The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined.
9He who walks in integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will be found out.
10He who winks the eye causes trouble,
And a babbling fool will be ruined.11The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
12Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.
13On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.
14Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.15The rich man’s wealth is his fortress,
The ruin of the poor is their poverty.
16The wages of the righteous is life,
The income of the wicked, punishment.
17He is [on] the path of life who heeds instruction,
But he who ignores reproof goes astray.18He who conceals hatred [has] lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.
19When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
20The tongue of the righteous is [as] choice silver,
The heart of the wicked is [worth] little.
21The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of understanding.22It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich,
And He adds no sorrow to it.
) has the same opening sentences as the first part, “the Proverbs of Solomon” (verse 11The proverbs of Solomon.
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.
; Pro 1:11The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:). It confirms that the book continues here, although the form is different from the first part. The second part of verse 11The proverbs of Solomon.
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.
, with the first proverbs, underlines that. The first proverb is about a son in his relation with his father and mother. That indicates that the atmosphere in which the teaching is given, is just like in the first part that of the family (Pro 1:88Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
). It emphasizes the importance of an education in the fear of God.

All following proverbs have the intention to help the son to act as a wise son and to keep him from acting like a foolish son. Whoever acts like a wise son, shows himself to be a son of wisdom. The result is the joy with his father, who has raised him in wisdom, just like the previous chapters have shown us. It goes together with the warning not to behave as a foolish son, which leads to grief to his mother. Esau was a foolish son. He delivered his parents grief by his marriage with Hittite women (Gen 26:34-3534When Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite;35and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.; 27:4646Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”).

Both the father and the mother have their own vital role with the upraising. The father takes care of the safety and security by his powerful love. The mother gives the child the feeling that it is wanted and accepted, by her warm, soulful love.

The child can be a son or a daughter. That there is mention of a ‘son’ again and again, is because it is about the ‘male’ aspect of the life as a believer, meaning to bring the relationship into practice. The ‘female’ aspect of the believer represents more the relation itself, the relation in which the believer is placed.

A wise son is not wise because he simply has much knowledge and also the necessary experience that he has gained. Wisdom is not ‘knowledge plus experience’, but knowledge of Christ as the wisdom of God. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. It is impossible to become wise if He is not the center of our heart and life. Wisdom is ‘Christ-centered’.

We see in the first proverb what the consequence is when one listens to the teaching and wisdom and what the consequence is when it is not obeyed. Whoever listens to it, is “a wise son”. He is a continuous source of joy for his father. Whoever does not listen to it, is “a foolish son”. He is a continuous cause of an intense grief to his mother. It is clear that the mother rejoices continuously with the father in a wise son and the father has continuous grief together with the mother because of a foolish son.

We see that the consequences of wisdom or folly of the son affect others. Those are in the first place both the parents who have told him about wisdom and folly (cf. Pro 17:21,2521He who sires a fool [does so] to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.25A foolish son is a grief to his father
And bitterness to her who bore him.
; 23:24-2524The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.
25Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.
). But also others who live with God, will be happy or sad when they look at young people and notice wisdom or folly (cf. 2Jn 1:44I was very glad to find [some] of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment [to do] from the Father.).


Righteousness Is Life

2Ill-gotten gains do not profit,
But righteousness delivers from death.
3The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger,
But He will reject the craving of the wicked.

The next proverb is about life and death (verse 22Ill-gotten gains do not profit,
But righteousness delivers from death.
). The wicked lives for the here and now and tries to gain as many treasures as he possibly can in this life. He does that in his own wicked way. All those treasures are “ill-gotten gains”, treasures which are characterized by wickedness. That can be because of the wicked way they were gained or because of the way it is being dealt with. With these treasures, which are characterized by wickedness, he thinks to lead a pleasant life.

But those treasures will not benefit him when he dies. What benefit did Ahab have when he took possession of Naboth’s vineyard (1Kgs 21:4-244So Ahab came into his house sullen and vexed because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and ate no food.5But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating food?”6So he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”7Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”8So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent letters to the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city.9Now she wrote in the letters, saying, “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people;10and seat two worthless men before him, and let them testify against him, saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”11So the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent [word] to them, just as it was written in the letters which she had sent them.12They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the people.13Then the two worthless men came in and sat before him; and the worthless men testified against him, even against Naboth, before the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones.14Then they sent [word] to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.”15When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.”16When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.17Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,18“Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth where he has gone down to take possession of it.19You shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Have you murdered and also taken possession?”‘ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.”‘“20Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found [you], because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the LORD.21Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel;22and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked [Me] to anger, and [because] you have made Israel sin.23Of Jezebel also has the LORD spoken, saying, ‘The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.’24The one belonging to Ahab, who dies in the city, the dogs will eat, and the one who dies in the field the birds of heaven will eat.”; 22:3939Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did and the ivory house which he built and all the cities which he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?)? What benefit did the thirty pieces of silver deliver Judas for betraying the Lord Jesus (Mt 27:55And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.)? Both of them died in their sins.

Only “righteousness delivers from death”. In the government of God, doing righteousness will not bring us into death, but guarantees us to be kept free from it. We do righteousness when we give everyone what he is entitled to, both God and man. This can only be realized by a person who possesses the righteousness of God in Christ. Such a person possesses a treasure of immeasurable value. That treasure is apart from all earthly treasures. Whoever possesses that treasure, can face death without fear, for death has been robbed from its terror. Christ has conquered death.

Righteousness is of far greater value than earthly prosperity, certainly when on top of that it has been gained dishonestly. Thereby prosperity can only be enjoyed for a limited time, at the longest during the short stay on earth, while righteousness goes through death and continues to be enjoyed thereafter.

The LORD makes sure that the righteous lacks nothing (verse 33The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger,
But He will reject the craving of the wicked.
). The Lord Jesus points His disciples to the birds of heaven which He takes care of. Then He says that those who are His are worth much more than those birds (Mt 6:25-2625“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, [as to] what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, [as to] what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and [yet] your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?). He who lives in relation with Him, receives from Him what he needs. Even though he has any lack, still his soul will not suffer from hunger, for in his soul he has fellowship with God. Habakkuk can therefore sing, while he lacks of everything (Hab 3:17-1917Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
[Though] the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
18Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
19The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ [feet],
And makes me walk on my high places.
For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
).

The wicked people receive nothing from God. They neither have asked Him anything, but have stolen properties from others and especially from God. He rejects their craving. A wicked man is never satisfied, he never says he has enough, but always wants more. His cravings are therefore evil cravings, which he wants to satisfy at the expense of others. Sometimes he even succeeds in that, but God will take away all of that from him. He will have to live forever with unfulfilled cravings. It is one of the torments of hell that the wicked people will never get what they want, because they have never wanted God when He offered Christ to them.


To Work Diligently in Summer

4Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
5He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
[But] he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

These verses relate to the previous verse. That God takes care (verse 33The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger,
But He will reject the craving of the wicked.
) does not mean that man should not work for his living (verse 44Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
). Here on the one hand laziness and poverty are linked together and on the other hand diligence and riches. Laziness causes poverty, and diligence results in riches. A “negligent hand” is a limp, lazy hand, a hand that seems to perform something, but does not do anything in reality. It is a hand that neglects, that disappoints, because it is not used. He who is lazy, will become poor. Diligence or fervor is a condition to become rich. Paul warns us about laziness (2Thes 3:7-127For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you,8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we [kept] working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you;9not because we do not have the right [to this], but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example.10For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.11For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.). Ruth is an example of somebody who is diligent (Rth 2:2,192And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”19Her mother-in-law then said to her, “Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.”).

Diligence also goes together with the consideration and use of time. It is not the intention that we only get to work when we are excited to do it. We must work when the occasion to work is present, or, just like the Lord Jesus says of Himself, that He works “as long as it is day” (Jn 9:44We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.). A son of wisdom will gather “in summer” (verse 55He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
[But] he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.
; Pro 6:6-86Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8Prepares her food in the summer
[And] gathers her provision in the harvest.
; 30:2525The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;
). In that way he proves to be “a wise son”. The harvest is the right time to do the right thing. Joseph acted as a wise son by gathering and storing up the abundance out of the years of plenty for the years of ‘famine’ (Gen 41:46-5646Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.47During the seven years of plenty the land brought forth abundantly.48So he gathered all the food of [these] seven years which occurred in the land of Egypt and placed the food in the cities; he placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields.49Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring [it], for it was beyond measure.50Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him.51Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” [he said,] “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”52He named the second Ephraim, “For,” [he said,] “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”53When the seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end,54and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.55So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do.”56When the famine was [spread] over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.).

When we make the most of the suitable occasion, make the most of our time (Eph 5:15-1615Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16making the most of your time, because the days are evil.), we act as “a wise son”. This has everything to do with learning to know the will of God, which He reveals to those who want to be obedient. Young people will show to be ‘a wise son’, when they diligently study the Word of God. In that way they give attention to the exhortation that Solomon gives in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come” (Ecc 12:1a1Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”;).

The opposite of a wise son is the son who “sleeps in the harvest”. While everyone is working hard to bring in the harvest, this son is asleep in his bed. In this way he lets the time of gathering go by and will have nothing when he awakes. The Lord Jesus says: “The fields are white for harvest” (Jn 4:3535Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and [then] comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.). But He unfortunately also has to say: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Mt 9:3737Then He *said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.; Lk 10:22And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.). Many Christians are in a deep spiritual sleep. They are occupied with many things for themselves and not with the work for the Lord.

A son who sleeps in the harvest, does not only deprive himself. He “is a son who acts shamefully”, which means that he also disgraces and deprives his father, who has taught him wisdom. He behaves himself shamefully by neglecting his obligations, while knowing them, because of his laziness. Demas is an example of a person who disgraces others. Paul has to say with sadness to Timothy that Demas “has loved the present world” (2Tim 4:1010for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens [has gone] to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.). Unfaithful believers make believers who have prayed and fought for their spiritual well-being ashamed (cf. 1Jn 2:2828Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.).

Christians who do not meet the calling with which God has called them, make God the Father ashamed. God is ashamed of them. The people of God that had returned from Babel to Judah and Jerusalem, made God ashamed by saying that it was not the right time for building the house of God (Hag 1:2-32“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, [even] the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt.”‘“3Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,). They worked very hard for their own houses, while every effort for God’s house was too much for them.


Blessing or Rotting Away

6Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
7The memory of the righteous is blessed,
But the name of the wicked will rot.

“The righteous” and “blessings” belong together (verse 66Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
). On the head of the righteous are the blessings of God (cf. Gen 49:2626“The blessings of your father
Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
May they be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
; Deu 33:1616And with the choice things of the earth and its fullness,
And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush.
Let it come to the head of Joseph,
And to the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
), whatever people may do to them or may say about them. God speaks out His blessing over the righteous and blesses him with material and spiritual blessings. Hereby we can again firstly think of the Lord Jesus Who is the Blessed.

Opposite the head of the righteous stands “the mouth of the wicked”. His mouth “conceals violence”. That may imply that his mouth is silenced with violence. For him there is no blessing, but he is silenced in a violent way (cf. Psa 107:4242The upright see it and are glad;
But all unrighteousness shuts its mouth.
). It can also imply that violence lies as a carpet over his mouth; that only violence comes out of his mouth. Each word of blessing to another is strange to him.

What has characterized the life of the righteous and the wicked, will be continued after death (verse 77The memory of the righteous is blessed,
But the name of the wicked will rot.
). How blessed is the remembrance of the Righteous, Christ Jesus (Psa 112:6b6For he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be remembered forever.
), but how terrifying is the name of Judas. Thinking about the righteous who have lived before us, is an activity which produces blessing to us (e.g. Heb 11:1-401Now faith is the assurance of [things] hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.2For by it the men of old gained approval.3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.4By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.5By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.6And without faith it is impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is and [that] He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.7By faith Noah, being warned [by God] about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.8By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.9By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign [land], dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;10for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.11By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.12Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, [as many descendants] as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.13All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.15And indeed if they had been thinking of that [country] from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.16But as it is, they desire a better [country], that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten [son];18[it was he] to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.”19He considered that God is able to raise [people] even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.21By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, [leaning] on the top of his staff.22By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,25choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,26considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.28By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.29By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though [they were passing] through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.31By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.32And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,33who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed [acts of] righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,34quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.35Women received [back] their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;36and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated38([men] of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.39And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,40because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.). We experience that when we read biographies of devoted believers. We keep such believers in grateful memory.

“The name of the wicked” gives the opposite effect. Thinking about it or mentioning it arouses horror. We shall not name our children after a wicked person. Such a name does not produce blessing, but such a name “will rot”, which indicates a process of rotting. The name of king Jeroboam is such a name. After his death he was indicated as the king “who made Israel sin” (1Kgs 14:1616He will give up Israel on account of the sins of Jeroboam, which he committed and with which he made Israel to sin.”; 15:3030[and] because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, because of his provocation with which he provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.; 22:5353So he served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done.; 2Kgs 3:33Nevertheless, he clung to the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin; he did not depart from them.; 10:29,3129However, [as for] the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin, from these Jehu did not depart, [even] the golden calves that [were] at Bethel and that [were] at Dan.31But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel sin.; 13:2,6,112He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel sin; he did not turn from them.6Nevertheless they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, with which he made Israel sin, but walked in them; and the Asherah also remained standing in Samaria.11He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not turn away from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel sin, but he walked in them.; 14:2424He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.; 15:18,24,2818He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.24He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.28He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.; 23:1515Furthermore, the altar that [was] at Bethel [and] the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down. Then he demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah.).

The question that we face is how we want to be remembered. With funerals often only the good things are mentioned, while the person sometimes was known very differently. But the aroma of the life that one has lived, remains after death, whatever words people may have spoken out at their funeral. Do we leave a sweet aroma or a stench? Shall our name be mentioned with gratefulness or with horror?


Be Ruined or Walking Securely

8The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined.
9He who walks in integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will be found out.
10He who winks the eye causes trouble,
And a babbling fool will be ruined.

“The wise of heart will receive commands” which his father or another person who is superior to him, presents to him (verse 88The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined.
). He does that because he is aware of his need of them and the value of them. In himself he has no power to say no to the sin within himself and against the temptations of the world around him. Therefore the wise of heart longs for commands which he can treasure in his heart; these will make them lead his life (Pro 4:2323Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
). He is willing to be taught in order to become wiser.

The fool is continually speaking himself, simply talking nonsense. In that way he is not able to listen to the commands that are presented to him and are unto life. You may try to show him that he needs wisdom, but he will directly interrupt you with highly verbose absurdities. In this way he circumvents the confrontation with his real need, for he refuses to see that.

One walks “in integrity” when he walks with God and not for the eye of men (verse 99He who walks in integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will be found out.
; Gen 17:11Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him,
“I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.
). In that way he walks “securely”. Security goes hand in hand with integrity. Joseph walked in integrity and therefore enjoyed the protection of God. “But he who perverts his ways”, which means walks in sinful ways, will be found out. God sees all his ways and will confront him with them. That uncovering, that “to be found out”, goes together with punishment (Psa 125:55But as for those who turn aside to their crooked ways,
The LORD will lead them away with the doers of iniquity.
Peace be upon Israel.
).

Peter perverted his ways when he denied his Christian position, out of fear for the Jews. He was not straightforward about the truth of the gospel. Paul remarked that and strongly admonished him concerning it (Gal 2:11-1411But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.12For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he [began] to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.13The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.14But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how [is it that] you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?).

There are people who cause trouble for others by secret communication (verse 1010He who winks the eye causes trouble,
And a babbling fool will be ruined.
; cf. Pro 6:12-1412A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
13Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
14Who [with] perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
; Psa 35:1919Do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me;
Nor let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously.
). To say something with a wink has the meaning that what is said, is not true. A “babbling fool” will be ruined by himself. Here the second line of the verse is not a comparison to the first line of the verse; it is neither a contradiction, but complementary to it, which is indicated by the word “and” at the beginning of the second line of the verse.


The Mouth of the Righteous and of the Wicked

11The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
12Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.
13On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.
14Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.

“The mouth of the righteous”, which means what the righteous says, “is a fountain of life” for who listens to it (verse 1111The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
). His words are beneficiary and give life force. A fountain continually gives fresh water. This is perfectly true about the mouth of the Lord Jesus. Out of His mouth came words of grace (Lk 4:2222And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”). His words “are spirit and are life” (Jn 6:6363It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.).

We find that also with all the prophets that have spoken God’s Word. All their words of instruction which they spoke on God’s behalf, were intended to make the people of God live the true life. The same goes for the mouth of the New Testament believer. It is a fountain of life when he lets himself be led by the Holy Spirit in his words. Then “rivers of living water” will flow from his innermost being for the benefit of others (Jn 7:38-3938He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”39But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet [given], because Jesus was not yet glorified.).

What the wicked says has a totally different content. He spreads violence. What he says, causes only harm to others (verse 6b6Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
). The quality of life is destroyed by him. Wherever he is and opens his mouth, the atmosphere gets poisoned. Instead of refreshment and life, he sows death and destruction with his babbling.

The wicked are driven by “hatred”, but the righteous by “love” (verse 1212Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.
). Out of hatred flows conflict and quarrels. The words of the wicked conceal violence, but the love of the righteous covers sins by forgiving them. Love brings peace through forgiveness, through the covering of “all transgressions”.

There is an essential difference between the concealment or covering of verse 1111The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
and the covering of verse 1212Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.
. In verse 1111The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
it is about the covering itself. Nothing is being covered, but visible and that is violence. In verse 1212Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.
something is being covered and removed and that is all transgressions.

The Lord Jesus has in His love covered all the transgressions of those who believe in Him with His blood and forgiven them by that. Love “does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1Cor 13:55does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong [suffered],). Peter applies this word powerfully to our mutual interactions as believers who are living in the end times (1Pet 4:7-87The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober [spirit] for the purpose of prayer.8Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.). We also cover transgressions or sins when we turn back a sinner from his wrong way (Jam 5:19-2019My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.).

He who seeks “wisdom”, will find it “on the lips of the discerning” (verse 1313On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.
). Wisdom is to be found there. As wisdom and the lips of the discerning belong together, so also “the rod” and “the back of him who lacks understanding” belong together. The only language that people understand who lack understanding, is the language of the rod that beats them as a punishment. They have hurt others with their talk and as a punishment they receive pain.

Rehoboam, Solomon’s foolish son, is someone who has acted as a man who lacks understanding when the people asked him to lighten them from the burdens. He did not listen to the wise counsel, but followed a foolish advice. Therefore he had got to do with the rod, which is the chastisement of God (1Kgs 12:1-241Then Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king.2Now when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard [of it], he was living in Egypt (for he was yet in Egypt, where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon).3Then they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying,4“Your father made our yoke hard; now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.”5Then he said to them, “Depart for three days, then return to me.” So the people departed.6King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you counsel [me] to answer this people?”7Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”8But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.9So he said to them, “What counsel do you give that we may answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?”10The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins!11Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”12Then Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day as the king had directed, saying, “Return to me on the third day.”13The king answered the people harshly, for he forsook the advice of the elders which they had given him,14and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.”15So the king did not listen to the people; for it was a turn [of events] from the LORD, that He might establish His word, which the LORD spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.16When all Israel [saw] that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying,
“What portion do we have in David?
[We have] no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
To your tents, O Israel!
Now look after your own house, David!”
So Israel departed to their tents.17But as for the sons of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.18Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death. And King Rehoboam made haste to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem.19So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.20It came about when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, that they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. None but the tribe of Judah followed the house of David.21Now when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.22But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,23“Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin and to the rest of the people, saying,24‘Thus says the LORD, “You must not go up and fight against your relatives the sons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come from Me.”‘“ So they listened to the word of the LORD, and returned and went [their way] according to the word of the LORD.
).

“Wise men” store up “knowledge” (verse 1414Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.
). They can come up with the right thing at the right time on the right occasion (Mt 12:35a35The good man brings out of [his] good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of [his] evil treasure what is evil.; 13:5252And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”). Wise men know the value of being silent. Knowledge is a precious treasure, which one does not just simply sacrifice. They do not scatter with words of wisdom all the time. The fool lets himself to be heard at the most inappropriate times and in the most inappropriate situations. From what he says, it appears that he leads himself to the fall.


Security and Life or Ruin

15The rich man’s wealth is his fortress,
The ruin of the poor is their poverty.
16The wages of the righteous is life,
The income of the wicked, punishment.
17He is [on] the path of life who heeds instruction,
But he who ignores reproof goes astray.

He who is rich will feel himself thereby just as safe as someone who is in a fortress (verse 1515The rich man’s wealth is his fortress,
The ruin of the poor is their poverty.
). He is able to provide himself with all kinds of means to protect himself from evil. The poor is not able to do that and they easily fall prey to wicked men. This is what the wise observes in the world. One can be rich or poor, which gives him a certain vulnerability or invulnerability.

Spiritually we can apply this to being rich or poor in the faith. He who realizes how rich he is in Christ, feels that he is in a fortress. But the believer who is not aware of that, has a poor and vulnerable life of faith. The rich believer is safe from false doctrine; he will not allow anyone to rob him from that wealth. The poor is a prey to “every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:1414As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;).

One’s reward depends on his moral character, which means whether he is a righteous or a wicked (verse 1616The wages of the righteous is life,
The income of the wicked, punishment.
). What a righteous does, improves life, what a wicked acquires, his income, leads to sin and death. Said in New Testament language: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom 8:66For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,). Above all “the wages of the righteous”, which is Christ, is wages “unto life”. The result of what He did is that “whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:1616“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.).

When someone “heeds instruction” and accepts it, he will go on “the path of life” (verse 1717He is [on] the path of life who heeds instruction,
But he who ignores reproof goes astray.
). He will hold on to it and therefore stay in that path of life. In that way he is an inviting example to others to listen to instruction. Whoever does not listen to instruction, will bring others on a wrong way by going astray himself. The way we behave has not only consequences for ourselves. We are an example for others in that way, which leads others to act in a certain way. We set a good or a bad example and our followers follow our good or bad example.


The Use of the Lips

18He who conceals hatred [has] lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.
19When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
20The tongue of the righteous is [as] choice silver,
The heart of the wicked is [worth] little.
21The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of understanding.

To conceal “hatred”, hiding the wrong, is hypocritical and testifies of “lying lips” (verse 1818He who conceals hatred [has] lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.
). Whoever conceals hatred is a liar, for he hides his real intentions. He acts nicely, but in his heart hatred is burning. Absalom was such a person in his approach to Amnon (2Sam 13:22-2922But Absalom did not speak to Amnon either good or bad; for Absalom hated Amnon because he had violated his sister Tamar.23Now it came about after two full years that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons.24Absalom came to the king and said, “Behold now, your servant has sheepshearers; please let the king and his servants go with your servant.”25But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son, we should not all go, for we will be burdensome to you.” Although he urged him, he would not go, but blessed him.26Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.” And the king said to him, “Why should he go with you?”27But when Absalom urged him, he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him.28Absalom commanded his servants, saying, “See now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then put him to death. Do not fear; have not I myself commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.”29The servants of Absalom did to Amnon just as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose and each mounted his mule and fled.). The second line of the verse speaks about a possibly even greater evil. That regards the spreading of “slander”. Whoever does that, breaks someone down to everyone he tells the slander to. Whoever does that, is a fool. In the first line of the verse something is concealed or kept hidden; in the second line of the verse something is spread or made public.

A person who talks a lot cannot possibly speak the truth for one hundred percent in everything that he says (verse 1919When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
). What James says of the words that a man speaks applies especially to him: “For we all stumble in many ways” (Jam 3:2a2For we all stumble in many [ways]. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.). A fool uses many words (Ecc 5:22Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.). A “transgression” means overstepping a boundary, to come into a prohibited territory. It testifies of wisdom if we restrain our lips. It is wise not to say always and surely not directly everything that we think. Every person must “be quick to hear, slow to speak” (Jam 1:1919[This] you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak [and] slow to anger;).

“The tongue of the righteous”, which implies what the righteous says, is worth much more than “the heart of the wicked”, which means his best intentions (verse 2020The tongue of the righteous is [as] choice silver,
The heart of the wicked is [worth] little.
). The contrast between both expressions is the contrast between the external and the internal. The external is the tongue – what is said. The internal is the mindset of the heart, or what one’s intentions are. There should be a healthy balance between them.

What the righteous says, has the value of “choice silver”, while the intention of the wicked has no value at all. The Lord Jesus had a tongue of “choice silver”, for He used His tongue after He had received teaching. Therefore He knew “how to sustain the weary one with a word” (Isa 50:44The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
He awakens [Me] morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.
). Silver is a picture of the price that has to be paid for the redemption (Exo 30:11-1611The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying,12“When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them.13This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD.14Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.15The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves.16You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves.”). The words of the Lord Jesus were focused on redeeming people.

The value of the words of the righteous is that many are (spiritually) fed by them and in that way stay alive (verse 2121The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of understanding.
). To feed means to herd, like a shepherd does. It is not only about food, but also about taking care to give the right food. The words are passed on with care. That goes especially for the words of the Lord Jesus. He is the Bread of life. Also the prophets who have spoken in His Name, have fed the people with their words; they gave the right spiritual food (Jer 3:1515“Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.). Those words are edifying. The task of the shepherd and teacher in the church is also to edify the church.

The fools lack understanding. They do not want to be fed by the lips of the Righteous; they despise His words. In that way they reject life and die. Whoever rejects Him and does not accept His words, will be condemned by the word that He has spoken (Jn 12:4848He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.).


The Blessing of the LORD

22It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich,
And He adds no sorrow to it.
23Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,
And [so is] wisdom to a man of understanding.
24What the wicked fears will come upon him,
But the desire of the righteous will be granted.
25When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous [has] an everlasting foundation.
26Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
So is the lazy one to those who send him.

All the riches that we have, has been given to us by God (verse 2222It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich,
And He adds no sorrow to it.
). It is His blessing, without Him asking any achievement, any “sorrow” (or ‘toil’), from our side (cf. Psa 127:11A Song of Ascents, of Solomon.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
). The word “that” fully emphasizes “the blessing of the LORD”. Only that blessing makes rich. This verse is a warning against self-satisfaction, against the thought that our richness is owed to ourselves.

There is no contradiction to verse 44Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
, where it is written that the hand of the diligent makes rich. Both the one and the other are true. We should work, but also realize that the Lord has to give us the strength to and also bless it. Then we will realize that everything comes from Him and we will honor Him for it.

One’s character becomes public by the things in which he finds pleasure (verse 2323Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,
And [so is] wisdom to a man of understanding.
). Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool. It is just as pleasant to him as playing is for a child. It is his greatest pleasure to do wickedness, which appears from the obscene expressions that he uses. “To do wickedness” is an indication for a very sinful behavior. The fool even considers the worst in the area of sin as recreation, as a joke. He laughs at it and because of it.

That is opposite to the wisdom that one with understanding gives full joy, as if it is about a pleasant game. It is not about what a person does, but about the conduct that one has with what he does. Wisdom gives pleasure to a person who has understanding. That pleasure is found in God’s Word (Psa 119:117117Uphold me that I may be safe,
That I may have regard for Your statutes continually.
).

The wicked may have pleasure in doing wickedness, but at the same time he is inwardly afraid of what is to come. He ultimately receives what he is afraid of (verse 2424What the wicked fears will come upon him,
But the desire of the righteous will be granted.
). He lives without God and therefore without any security, which means that he is always in fear. The righteous on the contrary, receives what he longs for, for he lives with God and expects everything from Him. Here an enormous contrast is pictured.

He who has no foundation in his life, meaning who has no biblical principles, looks like a whirlwind that passes away (verse 2525When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous [has] an everlasting foundation.
). A whirlwind rushes for a moment and then disappears again, while he leaves a trace of destruction behind. That’s what the wicked is like. This connects to the previous verse, where it is said that what the wicked fears, comes upon him. He can enjoy in his life everything that he wishes, like richness, honor, family, while he lives in fear of losing that all ultimately. It will all indeed be taken away from him like by a rushing wind – probably in this life already, but very surely with his (perhaps sudden) death.

The righteous is the opposite. The same things could happen to him, like the wicked. He may also lose his richness, honor and family (Job 1:12-1912Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.13Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,14a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,15and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”16While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”17While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”18While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,19and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”; 2:6-96So the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”7Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.8And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes.9Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!”). But when disasters happen in his life, he appears to be “an eternal foundation” (cf. Mt 7:24-2724“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and [yet] it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.26Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”). It proves the steadfastness of the position that the righteous has because his life is built on Christ the Rock. Therefore the house of his life remains firm, however much the whirlwind may bash against it.

Vinegar gives a terrible feeling to your teeth when you drink it (verse 2626Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
So is the lazy one to those who send him.
). Smoke also causes irritation, for it brings tears to your eyes and therefore you do not see anything anymore and cannot move further. The lazybones who is sent for a special order is compared to these unpleasant experiences. He does not carry out the order, or is too late, or inaccurate and incomplete. The lazybones causes only irritation when you expect anything from him. Slowness in the work of the Lord is also a bad and irritating matter. He who is slow in it, even brings a curse upon himself (Jer 48:1010“Cursed be the one who does the LORD’S work negligently,
And cursed be the one who restrains his sword from blood.
).


Hope and Expectation

27The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
28The hope of the righteous is gladness,
But the expectation of the wicked perishes.

The normal expectation for a person who fears the LORD, is that his life will be prolonged, while the years of the wicked “will be shortened” (verse 2727The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
). That a Godly person sometimes dies young and the ungodly lives long, can cause doubt to this verse (Psa 49:16-2016Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;
17For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
His glory will not descend after him.
18Though while he lives he congratulates himself—
And though [men] praise you when you do well for yourself—
19He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They will never see the light.
20Man in [his] pomp, yet without understanding,
Is like the beasts that perish.
; 73:3-123For I was envious of the arrogant
[As] I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4For there are no pains in their death,
And their body is fat.
5They are not in trouble [as other] men,
Nor are they plagued like mankind.
6Therefore pride is their necklace;
The garment of violence covers them.
7Their eye bulges from fatness;
The imaginations of [their] heart run riot.
8They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
They speak from on high.
9They have set their mouth against the heavens,
And their tongue parades through the earth.
10Therefore his people return to this place,
And waters of abundance are drunk by them.
11They say, “How does God know?
And is there knowledge with the Most High?”
12Behold, these are the wicked;
And always at ease, they have increased [in] wealth.
). This doubt disappears when we consider that the meaning of it goes beyond death.

The hope that the righteous has, gives him joy now already and not only soon, at the fulfillment of that hope (verse 2828The hope of the righteous is gladness,
But the expectation of the wicked perishes.
). The meaning of it is that his hope is related to the faithful God and His Christ. – that particular God is now already with him. In Him his heart trusts. The eye of the righteous is not mainly focused on what he hopes, life to eternity, but on Him Who will not disappoint his hope.

Someone said that it is not about a long life, but about a full life. A full life is a life, filled with the will of God and is therefore a long life, for “the one who does the will of God, will live forever” (1Jn 2:1717The world is passing away, and [also] its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.). The Lord Jesus has spoken about life in abundance (Jn 10:10b10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have [it] abundantly.). This life will never come to an end and is also a life that is enjoyed in its fullness. It is not only about the duration, but also about the content. The short sojourn on earth is followed by a life to eternity with the Lord Jesus in the Father’s House.

The ungodly also have their expectation (verse 2929The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright,
But ruin to the workers of iniquity.
). They consider themselves to be rich when they are prosperous and healthy by living as if this will endure endlessly. In their dream house they really believe that they are now already in heaven, but they will wake up in hell. They have absolutely no ground for their expectation that their prosperity will always remain, because they do not consider God. Their expectation will therefore perish. King Zedekiah is a clear example of it (Jer 39:1-81Now when Jerusalem was captured in the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it;2in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, in the ninth [day] of the month, the city [wall] was breached.3Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came in and sat down at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sar-ezer, Samgar-nebu, Sar-sekim the Rab-saris, Nergal-sar-ezer [the] Rab-mag, and all the rest of the officials of the king of Babylon.4When Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them, they fled and went out of the city at night by way of the king’s garden through the gate between the two walls; and he went out toward the Arabah.5But the army of the Chaldeans pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and they seized him and brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he passed sentence on him.6Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes at Riblah; the king of Babylon also slew all the nobles of Judah.7He then blinded Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in fetters of bronze to bring him to Babylon.8The Chaldeans also burned with fire the king’s palace and the houses of the people, and they broke down the walls of Jerusalem.).


The Way of the LORD

29The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright,
But ruin to the workers of iniquity.
30The righteous will never be shaken,
But the wicked will not dwell in the land.

“The way of the LORD”, which means the way that He goes and the actions that He takes, the work that He does, means a stronghold to the upright (verse 2929The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright,
But ruin to the workers of iniquity.
). The upright feels himself to be fully safe on God’s way, under His guidance, protected against all kinds of dangers. He entrusts everything to God in confidence, because he knows that He judges righteously. That’s what the Lord Jesus did (1Pet 2:23b23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;). The same act of God which is the stronghold to the upright, means “ruin” to those who do iniquity. God uses His power against them. He is righteous in His judgment to both the upright and the workers of iniquity.

“The righteous” will surely “never be shaken” (verse 3030The righteous will never be shaken,
But the wicked will not dwell in the land.
). He will steadfastly, uninterruptedly stand firm and receive all the promises that God has promised him. He will always dwell in the land (Lev 20:2222‘You are therefore to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out.). But the wicked will not receive anything from the future blessing that God will give to His people on earth (Deu 4:25-2725“When you become the father of children and children’s children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God [so as] to provoke Him to anger,26I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed.27The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you.). They will be wiped out of the land (or earth) and will therefore “not dwell” in it.


The Mouth and the Lips of the Righteous

31The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom,
But the perverted tongue will be cut out.
32The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.

“The mouth of the righteous” not only speaks with wisdom, but it “flows” with it (verse 3131The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom,
But the perverted tongue will be cut out.
). Like always, we also think here with ‘the righteous’ in the first place about the Lord Jesus. He speaks always and abundantly with wisdom. Others can be refreshed by it. He is the Source out of Whom wisdom flows ceaselessly.

It is very different from “the perverted tongue”. This tongue will be “cut out”, like a “tree that does not bear good fruits will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mt 3:1010The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.). The man of sin, the antichrist, is the prototype of it. This applies to all false prophets and false teachers. When the tongue is cut out, it is impossible to speak any word. The result is that he cannot destroy anyone with his wicked talk anymore.

“The lips of the righteous” bring forth acceptable things that do good to man (verse 3232The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.
). The righteous knows “what is acceptable” to others to listen to; he knows to choose his words well. The Lord Jesus has spoken what is acceptable. He has spoken gracious words, at which people have wondered (Lk 4:2222And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”). To us it is said that we should speak “only such a word according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:2929Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such [a word] as is good for edification according to the need [of the moment], so that it will give grace to those who hear.). These are acceptable words.

In contrast to that, the wicked speaks only perverted things. He speaks without thinking about it. What he says, will bring himself and others into perdition.


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