Proverbs ~ Chapter 10
Proverbs Contrasting Righteous and Wicked Lives, Chapters 10-15.
Having concluded the Prologue of the Book of Proverbs, we now turn to the main section of the book.
As we have noted, most scholars outline the entire book as the 7 Collections. The first four being known as Solomon I, the fifth as Solomon II, followed by the sixth, “The Sayings of Agur Son of Jakeh” and seventh, “The Sayings of Lemuel.”
Collection I, Chapters 1-9
Collection II, Chapters 10-22:16
Collection III, Chapters 22:17-24:22
Collection IV, Chapters 24:23-24:35
Collection V, Chapters 25-29
The Sayings of Agur Son of Jakeh:
Collection VI, Chapter 30
The Sayings of Lemuel:
Collection VII, Chapter 31
The headings (or superscripts) in Proverbs divide the book into these seven collections, Prov 1:1; 10:1; 22:17; 24:23; 25:1; 30:1; 31:1. Though Prov 22:17 lacks a distinct editorial heading, its reference to “the sayings of the wise,” gives it a distinction as a new section.
The headings also name four authors: Solomon, (Collections I – IV). The “Men of Hezekiah” who collected and edited some of Solomon’s proverbs, (Collection V). Agur, (Collection VI). Lemuel, (Collection VII).
Collection I, the Prologue, has set the context for all the collections that follow, Prov 10:1-31:31, not just Collection II, and its two appendixes, the “Thirty Sayings of the Wise” (Collection III; Prov 22:17-24:22), and “Further Sayings of the Wise” (Collection IV; Prov 24:23-24:35).
This new section, Collection II that we are embarking on includes various principles and precepts for everyday living by comparing wise living to foolish behavior. Having seen the comparison of righteousness and wickedness between the woman “wisdom” and the adulterous woman “folly” in the Prologue, (Collection I), Solomon now turns to direct one on one comparisons between righteousness and wickedness. So we will see many proverbs comparing righteous living versus wicked living.
Chapter 10 begins the format usually associated with Proverbs, as we had a glimpse of in Prov 9:7-12, that is, short capsules of wisdom that address a particular behavior or attitude of life. The prologue’s extended poems now give way to the short, pithy, one-verse sayings composed almost entirely of two verse proverbs. In these we continue to see that the righteous are those who learn from and obey God’s Word, subordinating their understanding to God’s “wisdom”, Prov 3:5, and the foolish are those who reject and rebel against the counsel and correction of God’s wisdom, Prov 1:7; 9:7-12.
Prov 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”
Prov 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
As we have seen, and will continue to see, when fools trust in their own wisdom, they destroy themselves by their increasingly wicked decisions, compared to the wise who find themselves on a path that is increasingly clear, Prov 4:18-19.
Prov 4:19, “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.”
Prov 4:18, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”
As we have noted, the sin of the wicked is the same as the original sin of Adam and the Woman, who rejected the standard of God, preferring rather to follow their own understanding, Gen 3:1-6. The result of that sin was the same as that of the fool, death.
We can break Chapter 10 down into 2 sections, vs. 1-16 and vs. 17-32.
The first section has three units, vs. 1-5, 6-14, 15-16. They all contrast the behavior of the righteous and the wicked:
- Unit 1, vs. 1-5, in connection with wealth.
- Unit 2, vs. 6-14, in regard to speech or communication.
- Unit 3, vs. 15-16, the consequences regarding the treatment of wealth.
All three units are concerned with life where the stakes are high;
- One’s behavior with money, vs. 2-5, 15-16, and
- Speech, vs. 6-14, are matters of life and death.
Remember that these proverbs are general principles and guidelines which may have exceptions. They are true as general precepts and rules of life according to our Lord.
Section I, Unit I
We begin with Proverbs 10:1.
Prov 10:1, “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother.”
Vs. 1a, as noted above, serves as a heading for the next section of the book.
“Proverb” is the Hebrew noun MASHAL, מָשָׁל meaning, “proverb or saying.” The purpose of a proverb was to warn against hazardous behavior and to promote wisdom resulting in social harmony among individuals and the community. It could be in the form of a poem, song, or quick saying. Here we have “wisdom” given from the mind of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 2:16, as bestowed on Solomon through the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, 1 Kings 4:9; 2 Chron 1:11ff; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; cf. Acts 28:25.
“Solomon”, שְׁלֹמֹה, the name of David and Bathsheba’s son, 2 Sam 12:24, Mat 1:6, who became the third king of Israel, while it was still a United Kingdom.
An interesting aspect of numerology is the correspondence between the numerical value of Solomon, שְׁלֹמֹה in the Hebrew: S, שְׁ (= 300), L, לֹ (= 30), M, מֹ (= 40) and H, ה (= 5) in Prov 10:1, a total of 375, matching the number of verses in Solomon I, Prov 10:1-22:16.
In vs. 1b, the father and mother are once again mentioned, cf. Prov 6:20, and are broken apart by the two forms of emotion that are associated with both parents and not just one, as other proverbs ascribe grief to the father, Prov 17:21, 25, and joy to the mother, Prov 23:25.
“Glad” is the Piel Imperfect verb SAMACH, שָׂמַח, meaning, “to rejoice, be glad.” The Piel is for intensive or causative action. Here the wise son “causes” his father and mother to have joy in their soul continually, (imperfect for ongoing action).
“Grief” is the noun TUGAH (tughah), תּוּגָה that means, “grief or sorrow.” Used three times in Proverbs. It is always paired in opposition to some form of the word “joy,” Prov 14:13; 17:21. Grief in itself is not really a form of mental or physical pain, but it is a way of reacting or responding to the experiences of pain, suffering, or affliction.
The point of this verse, and other “obvious” sayings is not merely what it says, but what it signifies. They are given to enable even the naive to learn to discern the potential consequences of their choices, Prov 1:4.
The wise son, by submitting himself to the instruction of his father and mother, (the Word of God), successfully negotiates his way through the temptations of easy money, Prov 1:10-19 and easy sex, Prov 2:16-18, preserves the family’s values and inheritance, Prov 5, and is on his way to becoming a wise father himself, Prov 4:1-9. Yet, on the other hand, the foolish son grieves them, as he cancels out wisdom’s inheritance.
The law motivates sons (and daughters) to honor their parents by Divine authority, Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16, but this proverb and others motivate them by tender family affections, cf. Prov 15:20; 17:21, 25; 19:26; 23:15-6, 24-25; 27:11; 28:7; 29:3. The poor choices a son makes can cause despair, but to see him living righteously brings joy.
Parents then need to realize their responsibility for raising their children, Prov 19:18; 22:15, just as children, who are by nature self-centered, need to realize that their decisions affect everyone touched by their lives, cf. Prov 19:13.
Then in Prov 10:2-5 we have the contrasting values of wealth.
Prov 10:2, “Ill-gotten gains do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.”
In the Prologue, the first admonition to heed the parents teaching in order to live, Prov 1:8-9, was immediately followed by admonitions not to join the wicked in taking from others, because it will bring death, Prov 1:10-19. Likewise, the first saying in Collection II implies the need to obey parents, and the second warns against going after illegal or ill gained wealth.
“Ill-gotten gains do not profit” is more literal “treasuries (OTSAR) of wickedness (RESHA) do not (LO) profit (YA’AL).” That is, anything you gain by cheating, fraud, deceit, treachery, stealing, etc., truly has no profit to your life and will lead to the Sin Unto Death, as the contrast in vs. 2b tells us, “but righteousness (TSEDEQ) delivers (NATSAL) from death (MAWETH).” Cf. Prov 11:4.
Prov 11:4, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”
This does not mean that wealth is wicked, only that wealth gained through sin reveals the state of the heart, cf. Prov 4:23, and has negative consequences to your life.
“Paradoxically, the wicked use others to store up physical assets for themselves and lose their lives, and the righteous use their resources to serve others and store up life for themselves.” (Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary).
Then in Prov 10:3, we have, “The LORD will not allow the soul of the righteous to hunger, but He will reject the lustful craving of the wicked.”
This verse provides the theological rationale behind the proverb of vs. 2.
Scripture frequently links hunger with moral and spiritual issues; it has significance beyond the mere shortage of food. The Lord repeatedly warned the Israelites that He used hunger as a judgment on sin.
The “wicked crave” is the noun HAWWAH, הַָוּה that means, “destruction, wickedness, or lustful craving.” Here it is the latter usage, yet not losing the nuances of its other usages. It signifies the unrestrained, uncontrolled, greedy appetite of those unwilling to live within the restraints of God’s Word, His order, cf. Prov 2:22; 3:25; 11:6.
“Ideologically the point [of craving] is that man must hearken to the voice of God and adapt himself to the ordinance of God in order to be able to act righteously. When man breaks free from God and does not get his wisdom from him … he then becomes a rasha, ‘wicked person,’ or ḇō·ḡêḏ, ‘treacherous person,’ who follows the impulses and inordinate desires of his evil heart, which leads to malice, lying, perversity, oppression, etc.” (Erlandsson, TDOT, 3:357, s.v. havvah, New International Commentary.)
“He will Reject” is the Qal Imperfect of HADAPH, הָדַף meaning, “to drive away, to drive, or push out.” The verb is used literally to refer to a fatal thrust or push. It is also used to refer to the Israelites driving out all their enemies from the Promised Land, and in God’s promise to expel the Canaanites from Palestine, Josh 23:5.
Here it is used for YHVH (the Lord) who will not satisfy the lustful desires of the wicked. Since the wicked have replaced the standards of God with their own desires, they can justify anything that they desire, but they are doomed to frustration. Whereas, those who trust in the Lord as the giver of every good and perfect gift, cf. Prov 18:22; Mat 6:33; James 1:17, find their satisfaction in His gifts.
Therefore, this verse has to do with the frustrations that the wicked will have, as they will not be able to satisfy their lusts and desires, while the righteous will be at peace, being content in all the Lord provides.
Prov 10:4, “Poor is made he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
“Is made” the Qal Active Verb ASAH, to make or do, and is an oxymoron here coupled with the “negligent hand.”
“Negligent hand” is the noun KAPH, כַּף for, “hand or palm” with the noun REMIYAH, רְמִָיּה that has two meanings. The first is, “laziness, negligence, or slack,” referring to an idle hand, here and Prov 12:24. The other is, “deception, deceit, fraud, or treachery.” The first is the usage here as a “slack palm” but again, the second definition should not go without notice as to its meaning and usage here.
The “negligent hand” is one who acquires things through deception, deceit, fraud, treachery, cheating, lying, stealing, etc., which continues the metaphor of this section. See also Prov 24:30-34. Also KAPH is used for hand to indicate the posture of the poor who typically have their hand or palm out looking to gain something from someone else’s hard work.
On the other hand, pun intended, “the diligent (CHARUTS) hand (YADAH) makes rich (the Hiphil Imperfect of ASHAR).” This hand, YADAH, יָד, meaning, “hand or strength” is the hand of the working man, which also carries the connotation here that he is diligently seeking the Lord, as YADAH is used to represent the hand of the Lord that was nailed to the Cross, Isa 26:11, 53:10.
The careless worker is more concerned about the immediate circumstance than about the long-term effects of his actions. One aspect of diligence is considering consequences, something which the fool consistently fails to do.
Then in Prov 10:5 we have an object lesson but in reverse order, “He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.”
“Gathers” is the Qal Active of AGHAR, אָגַר, that means, “to gather or harvest.” This goes back to the object lesson for the son in Prov 6:8, who is exhorted to observe the ant, “who gathers her food in the summer.”
The son who emulates the industry of the ant is “acting wisely”, SAKAL (sakhal), שָׂכַל meaning, “to succeed or understand.” The noun from this root is used for “understanding, wisdom, insight, good sense, and shrewdness.” Therefore, the basic idea of this verb seems to be, “to have the know-how to succeed in an endeavor and to obtain a desired result.”
This son represents any child who brings his parents joy by earning the accolade of being declared “wise or prudent”, SAKAL.
SAKAL is an important wisdom word dealing with good sense for living, cf. Deut 32:29; Prov 21:16. The opposite of this idea is not only to be foolish, but to be shameful in our verse.
Prov 21:16, “A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.”
Then we have “but he who sleeps”, the Niphil (simple passive) of the verb RADHAM, רָדַם meaning, “to be in deep sleep.” This is more than taking a cat nap or power nap, it is a deep sleep for a long period of time, potentially caused by narcotics, being totally unconscious of his surroundings, and means laziness or slothfulness rather than diligence in doing his job.
“Harvest” is the noun QATSYIR, קָצִיר, meaning, “a harvest or reaping.” It underscores the urgency of his situation and refers to the time of the year set by God when crops have ripened and are harvested. It was a time when hard work was required to ensure sufficient food for the rest of the year, Prov. 6:8; 20:4. It represents the times when we are to be producing the Fruit of the Spirit, Divine good production.
The ones who are asleep in reversionism, during the time of harvest, will have “shame”, (cf. 1 John 2:28) the causative Hiphil of the verb BOSH, בּוֹשׁ meaning, “caused to be ashamed.” The Hiphil stem conveys the sense of “to put someone to shame, to cause someone shame, or to act shamefully”, Prov 14:35; 19:26; 29:15. This is the son that causes shame back to his parents.
So we have our contrast: “Who gathers in summer, a prudent son, but who sleeps in harvest, a shameful son.”
Finally, an aspect of wisdom is the ability to discern what is most important at any given time, and then to have the diligence to work at it until it is accomplished. For example, the activity appropriate to harvest is gathering. Therefore, prudence considers the future when determining what to pursue, Prov 21:5 and does it. Whereas, the lazy would rather indulge their lustful desires than work, and so come to poverty, cf. Prov 10:4; 20:4, bringing shame upon themselves and those around them.
Section I, Unit II:
As we noted above Chapter 10 has two sections, vs. 1-16 and 17-32. The first section has three units, vs. 1-5, 6-14, 15-16. They all contrast the behavior of the righteous and the wicked. We have noted Unit 1, vs. 1-5, in connection with wealth. Now we turn to Unit 2, vs. 6-14, in regard to speech or communication.
Prov 10:6, “Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”
This is the first of 13-verses in this chapter that contrast the speech of the wise or righteous and the wicked or foolish, vs. 8, 10-14, 18-21, 31f.
The first half of this sentence is an ellipsis meaning, it has only nouns and no verbs, so “are” is added.
“Blessings” is the noun BERAKAH (berachah) בְּרָכָה that means, “blessings” from God or other people or things. It also denotes a peace treaty, or capitulation in 2 Kings 18:31; Isa 36:16. This is where R.B. Thieme Jr. got the name for his church, Berachah Church, although focusing on the “grace” component of this word for “Grace Church.”
BERAKAH denotes giving someone the potency to reproduce life and wealth, and to overcome enemies. The plural denotes both their quality and quantity, that is, all sorts of blessings, from childbearing to the increase of herds and crops and friendships. Its notion of wealth ties this unit in with the preceding unit, vs. 1-5.
Remember that God is always understood as the giver of blessing, even when He is not explicitly mentioned here.
“On the head” is the noun ROSH for head, top, or first, etc. It means that first and foremost blessings will be received by those who walk in righteousness.
“Of the righteous” is the noun TSADDIYQ for “just or righteous.” The term bears primarily a moral or ethical significance of, because of conformity to a given standard, the standard of God’s Word.
So combined it means, for those who apply God’s Word from the right lobe – heart of their soul, they will be blessed by God both in time and eternity, most likely with the greater emphasis on time here.
Next is the contrast “but” using the Hebrew WE construction.
“The mouth” the noun PEH as we have seen, for “mouth, opening, or edge.”
“Of the wicked” is the contrasting noun to TSEDEQ, RASHA for “criminal or wicked.”
“Conceals” is our first verb in the sentence. It is the causative Piel Imperfect of KASAH, כָּסָה that means, “to cover or conceal.” See also vs. 11. What is covered up or concealed by the wicked person’s mouth?
“Violence” is the noun CHAMAS, חָמָס that means, “violence, wrong, cruelty, injustice.”
So what we have here is operation “cover up”, where the evil or wicked person covers up with their speech of flattery, boastfulness, and self-aggrandizing, the cruel and violent things they think or do. So we see the arrogant, boisterous, and boastful individual here as they conceal their true thoughts and intentions.
Prov 10:18, “He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool.”
We were first warned of these types of individuals in Prov 3:31; 4:17.
Prov 3:31, “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.”
Prov 4:17, “For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.” Also meaning the wicked partakes in a false communion table.
A similar proverb to vs. 6 is found in Prov 11:11, that speaks of blessing or destruction by association, “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.” By being righteous, not only will you be blessed by God yourself, but those in your periphery will be as well.
Prov 10:7, “The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot.”
Again, the first half is an ellipsis, “is” is added.
“Memory” is the noun ZEKER, זֵכֶר meaning, “remembrance or memorial.” This the “blessing” (BERAKAH) or honor the righteous (TSADDIYQ) receive from the Lord. They will be remembered from generation to generation, as many of the Old Testament saints are already memorialized in the eternal Word of God, the Scriptures, cf. Hebrews 11. It also reminds us of the historical record section in heaven where the righteous deeds of the saints will be recorded for all of eternity, Rev 3:12.
Then we have the contrast, WE, with “name”, the noun SHEM, שֵׁם that carries the idea of a person’s “standing, reputation, or fame,” whether good or bad. It represents their character and function, not merely a label of identification. In many instances “name” is the equivalent of memory, cf. Ex 3:15; Psa 97:12; 102:12; Hosea 12:5. So we see the contrast to the righteous person.
As Prov 22:1 and Ecc 7:1 tell us, “a good reputation is better than material prosperity.”
But here it is the reputation of the “wicked” (RASHA) that is said to “rot”, which is the Qal Imperfect of the verb REQEB, meaning, “to fall apart from decomposition, infection, etc.”
This is what will happen to the wicked, they will be soon forgotten, remembered no more.
Concerning the dead, Solomon also noted in Eccl 9:5, “They have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.”
God blots out only the name/memory of the wicked, cf. Psa 9:6; 34:16; 109:15; Rev 3:5.
So this verse escalates the blessing of the righteous and the failed consequences of the wicked in this life to a future beyond clinical death. God promises the remembrance of the righteous forever but cuts off the remembrance of the wicked person(s), Job 18:17; Psa 34:16; 109:15; or even the wicked nations, Ex 17:14; Deut 25:19; 32:26.
Our reputation will outlive us and as time passes the reputations of people tends to become more honest, revealing how others truly viewed them. This tells us that the righteous enjoy a good reputation even after death, whereas the reputation of the wicked eventually rots, like wood or meat, getting worse and worse until it is completely decayed.
Then in vs. 8 the contrast of communication continues.
Prov 10:8, “The wise of heart will receive commands, but a babbling fool will be ruined.”
“Wise of heart” is CHAKAM LEB. This is the subject of the sentence. It identifies an attribute of the righteous person as opposed to the fool who is “wise in their own eyes”, cf. Prov 3:7, The attribute is: They have Bible Doctrine in the right lobe of their soul ready for application, because they know they need to learn God’s Word consistently.
“Will receive” is the first use of a verb for the “righteous” in this unit. It is the Qal Imperfect of LAQACH, meaning, “to take, grasp, seize, etc.” The Qal is the active voice; the righteous person produces the action. The Imperfect is for future tense, they “will” take, grasp, or seize.
The object of this sentence is “commands” MITSVAH, which stands for Bible Doctrine. The righteous person has doctrine in their soul, the fool does not. This also indicates one of the blessings the righteous person receives; more doctrine. By recognizing the limitations of his own heart, the wise person humbly receives the teaching of God’s Word. Humility saves the wise, Prov 4:10-19, and his right lobe being filled with Bible Doctrine guides his mouth, Prov 16:23, and that in turn saves him experientially, Prov 5:2; 12:19.
Prov 16:23, “The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips.”
Then the contrast, which is identical to vs. 10b.
“Babbling” is the Noun SAPHAH, meaning, “lip or edge.”
“Fool” is the Adjective EVIL or EVIYL, meaning, “foolish.” A systematic appraisal of the word’s usage in the Old Testament suggests the term denotes someone who not only lacks sense, but is also morally corrupt as indicated by their speech.
So literally this is “the foolish of lips.”
The fool, in contrast to the wise, despises wisdom and instruction, Prov 1:7. The fool is so full of himself that instead of having the capacity to accept wisdom, he instead blabbers out his own “clever opinions,” which are devoid of true wisdom, Prov 10:13; 16:27. This represents the person steep in cosmic viewpoint rather than Divine viewpoint as the wise have.
“Will be ruined” is the Niphal future Imperfect of the verb LABAT (lavat), לָבַט meaning, “to be thrust down, be thrust away, be thrown down, be cast aside, or to be ruined.” The Niphal can be used for simple passive, that is the subject receives the action of being ruined, or reflexive that means the subject performs the action of ruining himself. You can make a case for both here but the passive for receiving the action of being ruined is in view.
So by his lack of discipline to receive the Word of God and speak it (apply it as wisdom), he instead entangles himself in what he says and endangers himself at the cost of his reputation, both with God and man.
This proverb implies that accepting commands reveals the wise in heart, and the babbling fool can be recognized by the fact that they do not obey God’s Word.
Therefore, the wise person realizes how much there is to learn and understand. They also understand that wisdom is not a permanent state and that it must be nurtured continually in order to maintain it, cf. Prov 19:27. They seek constantly to learn and grow in their understanding of God’s Word and are open to being taught. The fool, on the other hand, is much too busy talking to learn anything or from anyone. As a result, lacking in wisdom, they will come to destruction.
Prov 19:27, “A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are like scorching fire.”
Then we have the correlation to vs. 8:
Prov 10:9, “He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.”
“He who walks (HALAK) in integrity walks (HALAK) securely”, is the consequent security of receiving commands (God’s Word).
“Integrity” is the Noun TOM, תֹּם meaning, “completeness or integrity.” The most frequent use refers to a person’s integrity, often as “integrity of heart,” meaning “sincerity” or “moral and wise character”, Gen 20:5; Psa 26:1; 78:72.
“It refers to innocence of willful wrongdoing and having a clear conscience in a relationship (2 Sam. 15:11). It seems to have a sense of consistent honesty and moral behavior, wholly desiring to live in complete harmony with God and others. Another use is found in Isa 47:9 for the completeness or the fullness of certain judgments being executed to their full measure.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English.)
“Securely” is the noun BETACH, בֶּטַח that means, “safety or security.” Cf. Prov 1:33; 3:23, 29. Therefore, placing your trust or confidence in God and His Word, results in benefits and blessings of a good reputation in time with both God and man. The dynamic relationship between living God’s way and having a concrete sense of security is repeatedly presented in scripture, cf. Deut 12:10; 33:12, 28; 1 Kings 4:25; Prov 1:33; 3:23, 29; Isa 14:30; Ezek 28:26; Hosea 2:18. It eludes also to the faith rest life.
So “walking in integrity to walk securely” means, walking in God’s Word that blesses you with both inward integrity and the security of outward reputation.
Now the contrast: “but he who perverts his ways (DEREK) will be found out.”
“Perverts” is the intensive Piel Particle verb AQASH, עָקַשׁ that means, “to twist, pervert, or make crooked.” cf. Prov 28:18. It refers to those who have perverted justice or equality, Micah 3:9, or those who choose to act perversely, here and Isa 59:8.
“Will be found out” is the passive Niphal Imperfect of YADAH, “he will become known”, that is, the one who twists the truth of God’s Word (Satan’s cosmic system), will be made evident by the perversion he creates. Once discovered, it will bring shame and ruin, especially for a life built on trust, and after death it destroys the reputation, as we noted above in vs. 7.
“The Hebrew word pair tam-ʿiqqeš, “blameless”/”crooked” (or perverse) in its five occurrences in Proverbs (11:20; 19:1; 28:6, 18) serves to define the relation between individual and community. Brueggemann notes that a person of integrity (tam) accepts his own interest in terms of his solidarity with the healthy community. In the context of edifying the community he finds strength and approval. The destructive and devious words of the perverse undermine, not edify, the well-being of others.” (W. Brueggemann, “A Neglected Sapiential Word Pair,” ZAW 89 (1977) 244., as quoted by Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary.)
Then in vs. 10, we have only the wicked in view with a new and a repeated form of perversion.
Prov 10:10, “He who winks the eye causes trouble, and a babbling fool will be ruined.”
“He who winks the eye” is QARATS, קָרַץ for “narrowing”, and AYIN for “eye.”
“He will cause” is NATHAN, “to give.”
“Trouble” is ATSTSEBETH, עַצֶּבֶת for “pain, hurt, injury, sorrow, or wound.” The five occurrences of ATSTSEBETH are all in poetry and refer to internal sorrow or pain and as here is connected with social strife.
Prov 6:12, “A 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.”
Prov 16:30, “He who winks his eyes does so to devise perverse things; He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.” cf. Psa 35:19.
The second half is identical to vs. 8b. This verse equates winking with talking foolishly. Therefore, we have two kinds of bad communication: malicious, secretive gestures, and babbling chatter. The first line describes the effect on others, “pain or injury”, whereas the second describes the fool’s words as self-destructive. The mischievous troublemaker pains others, yet it causes a corresponding backlash to himself.
Then in vs. 11, we have a comparison between the righteous and wicked once again.
Prov 10:11, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”
“Fountain of Life” MAQQOR CHAYYIM, where MAQQOR means, “source or spring.” Now we begin to see in detail the impact the righteous have on others. They will be a source of life. Here we see the invigoration a believer can give to another believer or even an unbeliever through the demonstration of their faith, witnessing of the gospel and the Word, etc. Through your life you can invigorate the lives of others. By witnessing the Gospel, you bring spiritual life to the unbeliever, and when you teach the Word to your fellow believer, you are exhorting them and lifting them up spiritually.
The contrast is a repeat of vs. 6b, yet with a slightly different emphasis. The focus of vs. 6 was operation “cover up”, where the wicked (arrogant and boisterous) person covers up with their speech of flattery, boastfulness, and self-aggrandizing the cruel and violent things they truly think that has a negative effect back to themselves, i.e., no blessings and a poor reputation. Here we see operation “cover up” from the standpoint of the effect it has on others. It is not a “fountain of life” that lifts people up, but a den of iniquity, a gaping hole that brings people down to Sheol.
The wise and righteous use their words to strengthen and encourage others, to give them life, whereas the wicked use their words as a cover for their own evil designs, Prov 26:23-28, to conceal their true thoughts and intentions. And as we have noted, the effect of someone’s words reveals both the condition and intent of his heart. Therefore, the wise should be able to distinguish the difference between the two.
“The dependence of life on water is experienced existentially all over the earth, especially in the ancient Near East, where it is in short supply. Flowing well water is particularly precious (cf. Jer. 2:13), and people gather around it. The open, benevolent speech of the righteous is just as necessary for a community, offering everyone abundant life—temporal, intellectual, moral, and spiritual. The right word, spoken at the right time (15:23) and in the right way (15:1; 17:27), supports or corrects a community in a way that promotes its life (10:10b). Whereas a community gathers around the open speech of the unselfish person in order to live, the mouth (pî) of the wicked (rešaʿîm; see v. 7) hypocritically conceals violence (yekasseh hamas; see 10:6), for to be successful self-serving speech must be veiled.” (New International Commentary)
Then in vs. 12, we have a contrast but in reverse order that is closely related to vs. 11.
Prov 10:12, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.”
“Hatred” is the Noun SIN’AH, שִׂנְאָה that means, “hatred or enmity.” It has to do with personal relationships. If hatred is present it “stirs up”, UR, (“to rouse someone, awake, awaken, or incite”), “strife”, MEDAN, (“strife, or contention.”) Cf. Prov 15:18; 28:25; 29:22.
“Hatred” is typically rooted in a person’s subjective revulsion toward someone else, usually a transgressor, as indicated by this comparison. When hatred is present in your life, it typically leads to further wicked actions as you gossip, malign, or slander, or even bring about physical violence towards someone else.
“Stirring up strife” means causing two parties to have a problem with each other, (to incite or provoke), whether it is yourself and another party, or two other parties that you arouse through your words or actions to have a conflict with each another, Prov 17:19.
Prov 17:19, “He who loves transgression loves strife; he who raises his door seeks destruction.”
As Prov 6:19b told us, this is the seventh of the seven abominations to the Lord, “And one who spreads strife among brothers.”
Then the contrast of the righteous person:
“Love” is the Noun AHABAH (ahavah), אַהֲבָה for “love between two people, brotherly love.” This love views the wrongdoer as a friend to be won, not as an enemy with whom to get even, Prov 1:22. That is the essence of impersonal and unconditional love. It also harkens back to vs. 6 and the peace treaty of blessings (BERAKAH) the righteous receive.
“Covers” is KASAPH, כָּסָה, in contrast to the covering lips of the wicked, (e.g., lying, boastfulness, arrogance, etc.), you keep things to yourself.
“All transgressions” is KOL, “all”, and the noun PESHA, for “rebellion, transgression, trespass or offense.” Here it is the sins or wrong others have committed, sometimes against you! Let us not forget the “ALL” here!!!!
So combine it means, “reconciliation” with people. It speaks to those who have wronged you or someone else and points the way to reconciliation by not “airing their dirty laundry”, (i.e., gossiping, maligning, or slandering them).
As Peter said in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” Cf. Prov 15:17.
It does not mean to ignore the transgressions of others, but rather to avoid reviewing or discussing someone else’s faults, mistakes, or sinful deeds with others. Instead of making a mockery of someone by exposing their sins and so exact revenge, love endures the wrongs and keeps them to themselves, in order to reconcile that person, save them from death, and to preserve the peace, cf. Gen 9:21-27; Prov 19:11; 25:21-22; 1 Cor 13:4-7; Gal 6:1; James 5:20. Just as when you confess and abandon your own sins to God, it is a great source of blessing and encouragement for you, Prov 28:13.
By refusing to speak badly of someone else, it builds and strengthens relationships, Prov 17:9a; as contrasted with Prov 17:9b; 26:20-28.
Prov 17:9, “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.”
In Prov 10:13, we begin the last quatrain of Section I, Unit II, regarding the contrasting communication styles between the righteous and wicked. Remember that “the righteous” is speaking about believers who are Positionally Sanctified and who are walking in fellowship with God consistently, called Experiential Sanctification. “The wicked” here includes two groups, first believers who are Positionally Sanctified yet are not walking in their Experiential Sanctification, who are out of fellowship with God in reversionism. The second group is unbelievers who are neither Positionally nor Experientially Sanctified. The wicked believer is primarily in view in these proverbs.
Prov 10:13, “On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.”
“Lips” is the Noun SAPHAH that means, “lip or edge”, which we have seen referring to the mouth and the speech that comes from it. So communication continues to be in view.
“Discerning” is the Passive Niphal Participle of BIYN, בִּין that means, “understand, perceive, or discern.” As we have noted previously, it refers to judgment and insight, and is manifested through the use of knowledge, rather than knowing by experiencing. So it means the intake and application of Bible Doctrine resident within your soul, received via the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP), and shows that the source of wise speech is the character of the person who considers and understands a situation and its outcome related to Divine viewpoint. They have built the norms and standards of their soul on God’s Word.
“Wisdom is found” is the Noun CHOKMAH, “wisdom”, with the Passive Niphal Imperfect of MATSA that means, “to find.” Therefore, the one who has Bible Doctrine in their soul will receive good judgment and insight that guides his speech, thereby demonstrating wisdom in all things.
“But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.”
“Rod” is the noun SHEBAT, שֵׁבֶט (shevat) that means, “a rod, stick, or staff.” It is used here with “back”, GEW (gave), גֵּו that means discipline as a staff or rod was used as an instrument of discipline, 2 Sam. 7:14; Prov 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15.
It tells us that force and not mere words of rebuke or correction are required to harness the mouth of the senseless, Prov 14:3; 18:6-7; Psa 32:9; Cf. Heb 12:5-11; Rev 3:19.
Who is the rod for? Those who “lack understanding”, which is CHESER LEB once again for “lacking of heart” that means no Bible Doctrine in the right lobe of their soul for application. Therefore, the fool’s back is for the strokes of a rod so that he might learn wisdom the hard way, Cf. Prov 19:29; 26:3.
Prov 19:29, “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and blows for the back of fools.”
Prov 26:3, “A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools.”
So we see that the wise person’s speech demonstrates the Doctrine in their soul, yet for those who do not have Doctrine in their soul, they will instead receive Divine discipline to correct the errors of their way.
As the Talmudic proverb states: “That which a wise man gains by a hint, a fool only obtains by a club.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
Then in Prov 10:14, we have the corresponding principles, “Wise men store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.”
“Wise men” is the pronominal Adjective CHAKAM.
“Store up” is the Qal Imperfect Verb TSAPHAN, צָפַן that means, “habitually storing up like a treasure.” Here the thing stored is “DA’ATH, “knowledge or skill” with an emphasis of that which is perceived, i.e. God’s Word.
So the wise man is consistent with his intake of Bible Doctrine into the right lobe of his soul through GAP!
“The mouth” is the Noun PEH, of the “foolish” is the Noun EVIL, and “ruin” is the Noun MECHITTAH, מְחִתָּה that means “destruction or terror”, as the two are related, because the threat of destruction invokes terror.
The mouth of a fool is ultimately the source of his ruin, Prov 18:7, “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”
“Is at hand” is the Adjective QAROB (qarov) קָרוֹב that means, “near or imminent” and in some uses means kinsman or someone close to you.
Other ways to say this phrase include, “the destruction of the fool is right behind him, or next door or right beside him or looming over his head and is coming quickly as in imminent.”
Here it specifically denotes the temporal closeness of his destruction or terror, the impending “reap what you sow” principle of self-induced misery, cf. Gal 6:7-10.
A fool with any degree of Doctrine in his soul ought to be afraid of what might come out of his mouth, knowing that his words will only bring him trouble. Yet the wise, whose words are a source of life, vs. 11, and a blessing to both others and himself, vs. 6f, do not need to fear either rebuke or ruin.
All believers, regardless of their spiritual growth should be able to distinguish wise from foolish words and should be able to distinguish disgrace and honor within themselves and in others.
So combined with vs. 13, the wise person has stored up Bible Doctrine through the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP) in the right lobe of their soul, and as a result, demonstrate that doctrine through their speech (life) which exudes wisdom. On the other hand, the foolish believer has not taken in Doctrine on a consistent basis, and therefore cannot apply it in their speech (life). As a result, they will receive Divine discipline in the form of self-induced misery that is always hanging over their head. The quality of his life and words results in rebuke, humiliation, discipline, correction, and punishment leading to ruin, which the next two verses will emphasize.
Section I, Unit III
We now turn to the final unit of Section I, vs. 15-16, the final quatrain, that tells us of, “The Consequences Regarding the Treatment of Wealth.”
The topic shifts from communication, Prov 10:6-14, back to riches or wealth, Prov 10:2-5.
Here we have a pair of proverbs regarding possession and gain. In vs. 15, “rich” and “poor” pertain to economic status, while in vs. 16, “wages” and “income” to the remuneration of varied labor. We begin with the “economic status.”
Prov 10:15, “The rich man’s wealth is his fortress, the ruin of the poor is their poverty.”
“Rich man” is the Pronominal Adjective ASHIYR, עָשִׁיר that means, “rich” and refers to wealthy, well-to-do persons with significant power and influence socially and politically. It is the opposite of DAL, “poor”, those without means.
Being wealthy was a sign of the blessing of God. “While the Old Testament never expressly equates personal wealth with God’s approval and blessing, Israel’s national welfare and prosperity were promised as a reward for covenant faithfulness. If Israel obeyed the Lord, He would bless and protect her; if she rebelled, He would remove his sustaining hand. Neither does Scripture portray riches as wrong or sinful, but it does place more responsibility upon the wealthy.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary.)
Given that Solomon was writing first to his son that was heir to the throne of Israel, this principle of wealth was in view regarding God’s conditional covenant with Israel. For the individual it is a general principle but not absolute.
“Wealth” is the Noun HON, meaning, “wealth, goods, or sufficiency”, that is, demonstrable material possessions and prosperity, but more importantly, it stands for Doctrine in the Soul, our greatest treasure.
“Fortress” is actually two words, the noun QIRYAH, קִרְָיה that means, “town or city” plus the Noun OZ, עֹז that means, “strength or power.” So now you know the genesis for the title of the late 1930’s movie, “The Wizard of OZ.”
OZ is derived from the Verb AZAZ, that means, “to be strong.” So literally, QIRYAH OZ is “the city of strength or power, or the strong city.” Fortress suffices as a strong city to protect treasures, especially in regard to the treasure metaphor we had in vs. 13 for “finding and storing up” and the “income / profit” metaphor we will note below.
Prov 18:11 tells us the strength of rich people lie in their wealth, “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city (QIRYAH OZ), and like a high wall in his own imagination.”
So here the “rich man” is one full of wisdom and righteousness that may be accompanied by material blessings.
“The ruin of the poor is their poverty,” This proverb warns against poverty that is the result of a lack of Bible Doctrine (wisdom) in your soul, which means non adherence to the principles we have noted and will note in this book regarding our work life and our spiritual life, e.g. vs. 4.
“Ruin” is MECHITTAH once again that refers to constant suspense, fear, and worry due to imminent ruin, and “the poor” is DAL the opposite of ASHIYR, “rich.” DAL means, “poor or weak.” In context, the “poor man” is one who lacks Bible Doctrine in the right lobe of their soul, and as a result has not made wise decisions in this life; i.e., no discernment, insight, or understanding.
Prov 13:18, tells us, “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline (Bible Doctrine), but he who regards reproof will be honored.”
For the ones without Bible Doctrine in their soul it is, “their poverty”, the Noun RESH, רֵישׁ meaning, “poverty, to be needy, or to suffer want.”
In regard to deprivation it is used to describe:
- The appearance and emotional state of one who is deprived.
- Those who experience financial deprivation.
- Those whose societal influence is minimal or lessened, and so are deprived of cultural or political standing.
Death, starvation, forced labor, injustice, and the temptation to steal loom in every step of the destitute.
The poverty in view here is the irresponsible kind, uncalled for but received by the arrogant, reversionistic person who could make something successful from his life but refuses to be corrected or taught, refuses to apply Bible Doctrine.
Prov 28:14, “He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that follows after vain persons shall have poverty enough.”
Again, the proverb reprimands the foolishness of wicked living, the irresponsible use of time and effort, and of careless and irresponsibility in choosing your companions.
Although this passage is exalting the “rich”, the warning to them is in Prov 28:11, “The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding sees through him.” Wealth often insulates the rich from circumstances that terrify the poor, since they have the resources that enable them to survive. Yet, the greater danger for the rich is that they begin to trust their riches, or their own cleverness in gaining them, rather than the giver of their wealth, God.
The Bible does not consider poverty as good or desirable in itself, but it is preferable to wealth under certain circumstances, cf. Prov 15:16-17; 19:1, 22.
Prov 15:16-17, “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and turmoil with it. 17Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred.”
We take from our proverb (Prov 10:15) that the rich man stands independent, where changes and adversities do not easily overthrow him. He is raised above many hazards and temptations because of the Doctrine in his soul.
On the contrary, the poor man is overthrown by little misfortunes having no faith rest and his despairing endeavors to save himself and when they fail, it ruins him completely. All the while he falls deeper and deeper into reversionism, (backsliding).
Then in Prov 10:16, “The wages of the righteous is life, the income of the wicked, punishment.”
In this verse we are dealing with the remuneration of varied labor.
“Wages” is the noun PE’ULLAH, פְּעֻלָּה that means, “work, deed, reward, wages, or recompense,” and designates the wages due a hired laborer, that is, rewarded painful work, Cf. 2 Chron 15:7; Jer 31:16.
2 Chron 15:7, “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.”
In this case the hired laborer is the “righteous” TSADDYIQ, צַדִּיק, those walking inside of God’s Plan on a consistent basis.
Their wage is “life” CHAYYIM. That is a life of quality and quantity here on earth for serving the living God. To be of enduring value, wealth must be acquired by righteousness, not wickedness, just as the fruit of the spirit (Divine good production) is gained by walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit rather than the darkness.
“The income of the wicked, punishment.”
“Income” is the noun TEBUAH, (tevuah), תְּבוּאָה that means, “produce, gain, profit, etc.” Cf. Prov 3:14; 8:19.
Intentionally, that which the righteous received is called PE’ULLAH, as in Lev 19:13, as a reward of his labor, and that which the godless receives is called TEVUAH, as gain which does not need to be the reward of labor, and especially when the labor is only for himself.
Here it is the profit of “the wicked”, the Noun RASHA, רָשָׁע for “wicked or evildoer”, that is gained through anti-social, anti-societal, and self-serving labor.
Their profit is actually not “punishment” but CHATTATH, חַטָּאת meaning, “sin or sin-offering.” Sin is the preferred translation here, as it speaks to the produce of the wicked believer. All they can produce is sin and if they continue to produce it consistently, the Divine discipline of the Lord will come in leading to the third stage, the sin unto death, (“sleep” in 1 Cor 11:30.) So in that way, the translation, “punishment” is correct.
So we see that “wickedness” feeds itself in sin, leading nearer and nearer to death, whereas “righteousness” (the result of obedience) leads to life, cf. Prov 10:2b. Therefore, the familiar and constant theme is reiterated, as righteousness yields life and wickedness yields sin and death.
We now begin the second section of Chapter 10 that begins with vs. 17 and runs through to the end of the chapter in vs. 32.
Here we will see the theme of “Deeds and Destinies of the Righteous and the Wicked Contrasted” that will actual take us right through Chapter 11 as well.
In Section II of Chapter 10, we have six more units contrasting the righteous from the wicked:
- Unit 1, The Introduction, vs. 17.
- Unit 2, The Contrasting Deeds of the Tongue, vs. 18-21.
- Unit 3, A Summary of the Genesis and Results of Blessings, vs. 22.
- Unit 4, Contrasting Mental Fortitude, vs. 23-26.
- Unit 5, Contrasting Fear, vs. 27-30.
- Unit 6, The Conclusion of Contrasting Speech, vs. 31-32.
Unit 1, Vs. 17 Introduction.
Prov 10:17, “He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray.”
The prologue told us that successful and unsuccessful rearing of a child affects society from the home to the community at large and from generation to generation. The introduction to this next section expands the son’s influence from the home to the community at large.
The premise is given first “He is on the path of life who heeds (SHAMAR – observes) instruction (MUSAR – discipline- Bible Doctrine).”
Once again we are exhorted to the importance of self-discipline in the intake and application of Bible Doctrine (God’s Word). When we have the Balance of Residency in our soul, (Max. Bible Doctrine in the Soul, Ready for Application, plus the Filling of God the Holy Spirit), we will walk inside the Plan of God for our lives, “the path of life”, (ORACH CHAYYIM).
“But he who ignores (AZAZ – leave or abandons) reproof (TOKEHATH – rebuke, a correction, a reproof – Bible Doctrine) goes astray (TA’ATH – wander, go astray).”
As Prov 7:25 told us, “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways (Satan’s Cosmic System), do not stray into her paths (sin, carnality, reversionism).”
Those who are hard headed and determined to go their own way, refusing to listen or respond to correction that comes from God’s Word, will soon find themselves wandering lost inside of sin and Satan’s Cosmic System, whereas those who respond in obedience to God’s Word will find themselves back on the path of righteousness that they had left. To abandon correction (Bible Doctrine) is a guarantee of eventual abandonment by correction (Bible Doctrine), which means Divine discipline that could lead to death, cf. Prov 1:22-32; 10:21.
Unit 2, vs. 18-21, The Contrasting Deeds of the Tongue, i.e., Beneficial versus Evil Speech.
Prov 10:18, “He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool.”
In this verse we have a double negative, and in fact it is tripled with the addition of vs. 19a.
The first negative is once again “operation cover up” of the one who “conceals” (intensive active Piel of KASAH) his “hatred” (SIN’AH) through the use of his “lips” or speech (SAPHAH) with “lies” or deceptions, (SHEQER).
Here we see the ultimate in hypocrisy, where the wicked will say one thing to your face and another behind your back to others, Cf. Prov 26:24-26.
Prov 26:24-26, “He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart. 25When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart. 26Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.”
Here we see that hatred often underlies hypocrisy, “lying lips”, and those who hate often invent or pass on bad news in order to destroy someone’s reputation, opportunities, or both. And deviously, to the person’s face the words are friendly, which may give them even more opportunity for harm or injury in the future, as they present themselves as sympathetic listeners or advisors.
The second negative is, “he who spreads (Hiphal of YATSA – to cause to go out), slander (DIBBAH) is a fool (KESYIL – fool, stupidity).”
“Slander” is the noun DIBBAH דִּבָּה that means a “report or calamity” and is translated as “an evil report or slander”, i.e., to speak ill of someone. Once again we see or better yet hear, in the original language the emphasis of this verse as the “s” sound in used six times telling us of the hissing of the slanderer spreading his secrets.
Slander means, “The utterance of defamatory statements injurious to the reputation or well-being of a person.” (American Heritage Dictionary) Therefore, it is an injurious or evil report slanted to damage its victim.
In most uses in scripture DIBBAH conveys the sense of a “negative report” or “a rumor”, e.g. Gen 37:2 (The evil report against Joseph to his father Jacob by his brothers.) or Num 13:32 (The evil report by the spies regarding the Promised Land.).
The verse leaves no doubt that hatred inspires slander informed by innuendoes, half-truths, and facts distorted and exaggerated beyond recognition, cf. Prov 6:17, 19 as the Seven Abdominal Sins include three verbal sins of the tongue. The covert hatred is combined with its overt expression of slander.
And the fact is that once gossip, slander, or a lie is released, it cannot easily be negated, and therefore causes all kinds of problems for the object of the slander and the slanderer himself or herself.
Prov 25:10 tells us of the impossibility of rescuing one’s reputation once someone begins to broadcast confidentialities.
Prov 25:10, “Or he who hears it will reproach you, and the evil report about you will not pass away.”
The prohibition against false testimony underlies this proverb, as in the 9th of the 10 Commandments of Ex 20:16, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”, since the people of God are to demonstrate His truthfulness in their dealings with one another.
This verse also shows that the fool of Proverbs is cunning and morally wicked, not mentally deficient, who destroys reputations and the community, doing no one any good.
Then in Prov 10:19, “When there are many words transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”
The first half continues the negative contrast of the wicked with the third inclusion, “When there are many words (DABAR), transgression (PESHA) is unavoidable (LO CHADAL).”
“Unavoidable” is the Hebrew negative LO plus the Qal Imperfect Verb CHADAL, חָדַל that means, “to stop, cease, or refrain.” It is used of the cessation or stopping of various things or actions already in progress, and here it says you cannot stop doing something, which is sinning with your tongue.
That is, if you already hate someone, that is one sin, “mental attitude sin”, that leads to another category of sins called, “verbal sins.” One leads to the other.
And, if you have “many words” which means, you are constantly slandering, lying, gossiping, etc. it is very hard to stop it. Therefore, this verse tells us, when there is a lot of gossiping in our lives, it is very difficult to stop sinning in that way. This is the nature of sin in general and speaks to the habitual nature that comes with it, sin begets sin.
A warning is given in Prov 29:20, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
Then we have the contrast of the righteous!
“But he who restrains his lips (SAPHAH) is wise.”
“Restrains” is the Qal Active Participle of CHASAK, חָשַׂךְ meaning, “to keep back, to spare, to keep from doing something.” Here it means restraining one’s speech and keeping one’s mouth shut, as also in Job 7:11; Prov 17:27. It is the exercise of self-control over your mouth.
Job 7:11, “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
“Restraining your lips” also means not wandering into error both physically and spiritually by keeping our mouth in check, sparing ourselves from performing the evil actions of the sins of the tongue.
“Wise” here is the declarative Hiphil Particle Verb SAKAL, שָׂכַל meaning, “to act with insight, to be prudent, to give insight, to teach, to prosper, to consider, to ponder, to understand, to act prudently, to succeed, or to act with devotion.” The primary meaning of the word is to be prudent, which means to have the know-how to succeed in an endeavor and to obtain a desired result.
The desired result is to glorify God by operating in His righteousness, thereby not committing sins of the tongue.
So we see that fools talk too much, Prov 17:27f, whereas the prudent know the value of silence.
Prov 17:27-28, “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. 28Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.”
The more words a person says (or writes), the less able he is to weigh each word, and the greater the probability that he will offend someone. The prudent speak very little, knowing the power and worth of every word, Prov 12:18; 18:21.
Prov 12:18, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Prov 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
The prudent also know that words can quickly get out of control, offending God and others, because they anticipate the outcome of a decision or action, and therefore keep a bridle on their lips rather than constantly flapping their jaw. cf. Prov 10:14; 13:3; 21:23; Eccl 5:1-6
Eccl 5:1-7, “Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. 2Do 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. 3For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words. …. 6Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.”
Then in Prov 10:20, we have, “The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, the heart of the wicked is worth little.”
This quatrain promotes the good use of speech by the righteous and balances the preceding quatrain’s focus on the need to restrain the bad speech of fools.
Vs. 20a continues the positive contrast of the righteous by telling us, “The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver.”
“Silver” is KESEPH, כֶּסֶף that means, “silver or money” which we have seen in Prov 2:4; 3:14; 7:20; 8:10, 19.
This silver is “choice,” the Passive Niphal of the Verb BACHAR that is a verb of significance meaning, “chosen, select, or purified”; therefore, it is of the highest value silver. It carries the concept of careful, thoughtful choice arising out of actual need, and therefore stands as a great comparison to the “tongue”, LASHON (tongue or language), of the “righteous”, TSADDIQ.
Just as this type of silver is carefully chosen and selected, having removed its dross (which represents sin in Scripture, Psa 119:119; Prov 25:4; 26:23; Isa 1:22-25; Ezek 22:18-19) …
Prov 26:23, “Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart.”
… the wise carefully choose their words and only speak when there is meaning or impact for righteousness.
In regard to external impact and blessing by association, this proverb encourages us to consider the lives of those who offer advice, counsel, or teaching from the wisdom of Bible Doctrine resident within their soul, and to learn from those who exhibit the righteousness that comes from that wisdom, since they can lead us on the path of great blessing.
The contrast of the wicked!
“The heart (LEB) of the wicked (RASHA) is worth little.”
“Worth little” is the Preposition KE, כְּ meaning, “like, as, etc.”, with the Adjective used substantively ME’AT, מְעַט that means, “a little.” Here it means of little value.
As we saw in Prov 8:19, wisdom’s yield, (the words of the righteous), are better than choice silver; whereas, the wicked are nearly worthless.
This tells us that there is no value in the “words” of the fool who espouse the worldly wisdom of Satan’s Cosmic System. Their world viewpoint is of no value to you whatsoever, and in fact, will lead to heartache and misery.
Then in Prov 10:21, we continue the comparison with, “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding.”
We begin with the positive exhortation, “The lips of the righteous feed many.” This metaphor “feed the many” explains the metaphor of vs. 20, “purified silver” for the speech of the righteous.
“Feed” is the Qal Imperfect Verb RA’AH, רָעָה that means, “to graze, to feed, to tend, or shepherd.” It means in general to care for, to protect, to graze, to feed flocks and herds. Here it is used figuratively to describe the lips of the wise as shepherding the people (“many” – the Adjective RABBIM that means many people here and alludes to people being leaders and foreigners). This speaks of the impact our righteous words can have; we can be a blessing to others locally, national, internationally, and angelically.
The contrast of the foolish!
“But fools (EVYIL) die (MUTH) for lack of understanding (CHASER LEB).”
Having no doctrine in the heart (right lobe of their soul), the foolish gossiper will receive Divine discipline from the Lord that can lead to the 3rd Stage of Discipline, the Sin Unto Death. So once again, we are reminded of the dire consequences of reversionism.
We also see where the foolish tongue comes from. It is based on having a lack of Bible Doctrine in their soul. The fool, because of his lack of value on the inside, (no doctrine in his soul), has little value to others on the outside, no spiritual impact in this life.
“The heart produces the words, and the words reveal the heart. “The heart of fools is in their mouth; but the mouth of the wise is in their heart”, Wisdom of Sirach 21:26. Though the fool is surrounded by the life-preserving words of the righteous that nourish many, he starves to death because he lacks the good sense to feed on them. He can neither receive life nor give it.” (Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary).
So this proverb admonishes the son to store up Bible Doctrine in their soul, vs. 14, so that he, and as many as want his words, might live and not die.
Unit 3, Vs. 22, A Summary of the Genesis and Results of Blessings.
Prov 10:22, “It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.”
This further explains, Prov 10:4, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
“Blessing” is the Noun BERAKAH, בְּרָכָה once again for “blessing” with the understanding of God’s Grace Pipeline, cf. vs. 6-7.
The “Lord” YHVH, is the agent of all our blessings.
“Makes rich” is the causative Hiphal Imperfect of ASHAR, עָשַׁר, for “causes to be rich” in regard to material blessings, but alludes to eternal rewards as well, 1 Cor 3:10-15.
Therefore, all blessings come from the Lord for His righteous ones. He is the creator and giver of riches.
“He adds no sorrow to it” where “sorrow” is the noun ESTEB, עֶצֶב (estev) meaning, “pain, sorrow, or toil.”
ESTEB is used six times in the Old Testament, and refers to “pain,” in the form of either “hurtful or offensive” words as in Prov 15:1, or when used absolutely as it is here it means, “strenuous labor, work or toil” Cf. Psa 127:2; Prov 5:10; 14:23. In Gen 3:16, it is used for the labor pains of child bearing.
In other words, God does not ask us for our human effort or human power to add to His grace provisions. He provides all the assets and resources necessary to fulfill His plan, and He wants us to walk in them. When we do, we are blessed. When we do not, our works are rejected, 1 Cor 3:10-15.
It is not by our human resources and power that we work and are rewarded, but by the power and resources from the Grace of God, when we walk in His plan. He gives us the power, strength, capacity, and opportunities to walk in His Plan for our lives.
The righteous recognize that God is doing all the work through us with the result that we are blessed for it. Just as His Son did all the work on the Cross for our salvation, His Son, by means of His Word, coupled with the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit, sent by His Son, causes us to walk in righteousness and produce Divine Good, where we are blessed.
Our human effort ultimately does not determine our blessings cf. Psa 127:1f; Ecc 5:18ff. It is by grace you have been saved and by grace He blesses those who are walking inside of His Plan.
This book has told us that diligence is necessary for success, e.g., Prov 10:4, yet that diligence is in the right application of His Word, to serve our Lord.
In contrast, painful or wounding labor comes from self-ambition and human effort, Prov 10:3 and stands under God’s judgment, not his blessing, cf. Psa 127:1; Prov 20:21; 28:22; 1 Tim 6:9-10.
Psa 127:1, “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.”
Finally, this verse introduces the main ideas of the following Unit, vs. 23-26 as it presents the pleasure of the fool as the result of a bad conscience that anticipates a dreadful end; whereas, the pleasure of the righteous entails a good conscience and a confident expectation of blessings and rewards.
Unit 4, Vs. 23-26, Contrasting Mental Fortitude.
Prov 10:23, “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, and so is wisdom to a man of understanding.”
Here we begin with the negative, “Doing (ASAH) wickedness is like sport to a fool (KESYIL).”
“Wickedness” is the Noun ZIMMAH, זִמָּה that means, “a plan, a shameful deed, or plot.” In most cases it refers to an evil plan or the result of an evil plan; a wicked act. Sometimes it is used metaphorically of spiritual adultery and idolatry, Jer 13:27; Ezek 16:27; 22:9. Therefore, we see it represents walking outside of the Plan of God for your life, walking consistently out of fellowship.
“Like sport” is the Preposition KE with the Noun SECHOQ, שְׂחֹק that means, “laughter, jesting, mocking, derision, or a laughingstock.” It is used in positive and negative ways. Here it is the negative beyond laughter and designates “satisfaction” of the perverted pleasure a foolish person derives from the evil conduct he has spawned.
Prov 21:10a, “The soul of the wicked desires evil.”
When the wicked person plots, plans, and carries out sin, his sin nature is satisfied with the act; and since his soul is controlled by sin, it too has a form of satisfaction.
“And so is wisdom (CHOKMAH) to a man (ISH) of understanding (TEBUNAH).”
Just as performing evil to the wicked man is “satisfying”, to the righteous man filled with Bible Doctrine, the gaining of wisdom, God’s Word is satisfying to his soul and spirit.
Prov 15:23, “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!”
What a person chooses to spend his time and energy on reveals his true nature, because people receive pleasure from and therefore seek what is most in agreement with their inner nature. For the wicked, they seek and gain pleasure from sin, for the righteous, they seek and gain pleasure from Bible Doctrine.
The fool who is self-centered naturally enjoys making and enacting wicked plans, yet the discerning righteous man loves and pursues wisdom, Prov 8:17-21.
Solomon warns that what a person most enjoys reveals the true state of his heart.
Prov 23:7, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.”
Then in Prov 10:24 we have, “What the wicked fears will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.”
Here we have the comparison with vs. 23 of joy and fear for the wicked (RASHA). As their wicked acts bring them joy, it will also bring fear to their souls, as they truly have guilt for their actions and are fearful of the consequences of what they have done.
“Fear” is MEGORAH, מְגוֹרָה that means, “terror.” It is the feminine by-form of MAGHOR that occurs three times in the Old Testament, Psa 34:4; here and Isa 66:4, it always refers to an object of “dread or terror” a generic sense of fear.
This fear differs radically from the fear (YIRAH – awe and respect) of the Lord. It emphasizes the terror a bad conscience has as it expects bad things to happen, and they are just waiting for it to occur with fear, worry, and anxiety.
“Will come upon him”, is the Qal Imperfect of BO, meaning, “to go, to arrive, to bring, or to reach an end”, which tells us that the punishment will fit the crime; as they have caused misery to others through their evil plans and acts, evil will come upon them too – “reap what you sow!”
It suggests that the wicked are miserable, regardless of their apparent prosperity or “happiness,” because they live their lives in fear of what may happen, and because they know what happens to those whom fortune frowns upon, Prov 28:1; 19:4, 6f.
Prov 28:1, “The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
In vs. 28, we will see that the hope and desire of the wicked are destroyed and all that is left them is their fear, as they suffer from well-founded anxiety and the pains of a bad conscience that hound them to their dire destiny, cf. Gen 4:13-14.
“But the desire of the righteous (TSADIQ) will be granted (NATHAN).”
“Desire” is the Noun TA’AWAH, תַּאֲָוה meaning, “desire, wish, delight, longings of one’s heart.” It denotes the aspirations rooted deep in a person’s existence. In a negative sense it means, “appetite or lust.” But here it is used positively of desires that are good and just, cf. Psa 10:17; 21:2
Psa 10:17, “LORD, you have heard the desire of the humble.”
Psa 21:2, “You have given him his heart’s desire.”
Likewise, good desire fulfilled is a “tree of life”, Prov 13:12, and “sweet to the soul”, Prov 13:19.
Prov 11:27, “He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.”
The Lord will fit the “desire of the righteous” with their reward, Mat 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
The righteous are confident because their obedience to the Word of God has placed them in the path of life where they are not only protected, but blessed Prov 10:17.
Yet, the wicked will be overtaken by the disaster that they fear, cf. Prov 28:22; Job 15:21; 20:22; Psa 36:12; Ezek 32:11.
Yet, for the wicked fear will “come” upon them, which connotes the inevitability of judgment, yet for the righteous, “will be granted”, cf. Prov 1:4, connotes God’s gracious reward for the righteous, Prov 2:6; 10:22; cf. Psa 37:4.
Those who entrust themselves to the Lord, and who submit to his wisdom, live without fear.
Then in Prov 10:25 the fate of the righteous and wicked is now escalated to their entire life, which has impact in the eternal realm as well.
Prov 10:25, “When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation.”
Here, the metaphor of ruin for the wicked is continued and contrasted with the blessings of the righteous.
For the wicked, “when the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more”
“Whirlwind” is the noun SUPHAH סוּפָה that means, “a destructive storm or storm wind” often used to denote the fate of the wicked. Hebrew also uses the nouns SA’AR and SEARAH translated, “whirlwind” in the English that means, “storm”, but here it is SUPHAH. In all but one of its occurrences, Job 37:9, SUPHAH translated as “whirlwind” refers to the judgment of God, cf. Prov 1:27; Isa 5:28; 17:13; 21:1; 29:6; 66:15; Nah 1:3.
Prov 1:27, “When your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.”
Nahum 1:3, “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind (SUPHAH) and storm (SEARAH) is His way, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.”
Therefore, the whirlwind speaks of God’s Divine discipline for the reversionistic believer, or punitive Divine judgment for the unbeliever, where problems and difficulties, calamities and catastrophes come into their lives, in judgment. (Remember for the believer walking inside the plan of God, problems or calamities are not discipline or judgment, as many times it is Satan trying to lead you astray, which God uses for people, system, momentum, or evidence testing and suffering for blessing.)
Here it is speaking of Divine discipline for the wicked believer who will be swept away, (i.e., “is no more” – AYIN) when the whirlwind passes.
The reason they are “no more” or swept away by the whirlwind is because they have no Bible Doctrine in their soul to fall back on, (as contrasted to the righteous in the second half of this couplet), to give them understanding as to why these things are happening, no faith rest to endure the difficulties, and no inner peace, happiness, or contentment in all situations, cf. Phil 4:11-13. Instead they will have the fear, worry, and anxiety that they have plotted and brought against others, which will consume them.
Hosea 8:7, speaks to the discipline for the wicked, “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind, (SUPHAH). The standing grain has no heads; it yields no grain. Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up.”
This indicates the “reap what you sow” principle. For the believer it is self-induced misery that can lead to all three stages of Divine Discipline, “weak, sick, and sleep”, of 1 Cor 11:30.
Therefore, however attractive sin’s activities and rewards may appear, ultimately the wicked will perish from them, Prov 10:28; 12:7; 29:16.
Prov 29:16, “When the wicked increase, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall.”
Prov 12:7, “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand.”
“But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.”
“Everlasting” is the Noun OLAM, עוֹלָם that means, “forever, eternity, something everlasting.” It can mean in eternity future or the rest of one’s temporal life, Ex 21:6, and connotes “durability, finality, and inalterability.”
“Foundation” is the Noun YESOD, יְסוֹד that means, “foundation wall or base.”
Interestingly, the first mention of YESOD in scripture refers to the “bottom or base” of the Brazen Altar, Ex 29:12; see also Lev 4:7; 5:9, where they would commit the sacrifices. Nine of the twenty times this word occurs in the Old Testament, it is used this way. As you know, the foundation of the altar is typology for the Cross of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the righteous have a solid everlasting foundation in Christ (salvation) and His Word that the wicked do not.
Regarding the wicked, YESOD is used figuratively in Ezek 13:14, to describe the false prophecies of false prophets in which the people had placed their faith, as a wall reinforced only with whitewash.
Ezek 13:14, “So I will tear down the wall which you plastered over with whitewash and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation is laid bare; and when it falls, you will be consumed in its midst. And you will know that I am the LORD.”
This reminds us of our Lord’s rant against the legalistic Pharisees of His day who relied on their human good deeds to earn their salvation, as He called them “whitewashed tombs”, having no faith or foundation in Christ, Mat 23:27, cf. with Paul of Acts 23:3, “whitewashed wall.”
Likewise, this word is used of a hostile prince in the figure of the “foundation” of a royal house in Hab 3:13, (where the YESOD is translated “thigh”).
And Job describes human frailty in terms of a “foundation” that rests upon dust, one which will ultimately crumble, Job 4:19, “How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the moth!”
Compare also, Mat 7:26-27, “Everyone 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, (sounds like a whirlwind), and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
Yet the righteous have an “everlasting foundation” that is so firm and secure that not even the greatest misfortune can shake him. cf, Psa 118:22; Hab 1:12; Mat 21:42; Eph 2:20, etc.
Hab 1:12, “Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O LORD, have appointed them to judge; and You, O Rock, have established them to correct.”
Psa 118:22, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.”
Eph 2:19-21, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.”
Christ is our foundation and corner stone for salvation, His Word for living the spiritual life.
1 Cor 3:10-11, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Mat 7:24-25, “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, (whirlwind), and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”
This foundation rock is the Lord Jesus Christ as noted in Mat 16:18, not Peter.
The harmony of the gospels also recounts Mat 7:24-25 in Luke 6:48.
Luke 6:48, “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent, (whirlwind), burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”
This also reminds us of Christ as our rock and cornerstone, our firm foundation, by which we execute the spiritual life for blessings and rewards for time and eternity, yet the unbeliever rejects Him for salvation and the reversionistic believer rejects His Word for living in righteousness, Heb 6:1-2; cf. Rom 9:31-33; 1 Peter 2:1-8.
Rom 9:31-33, “But Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
Heb 6:1-2, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.”
Then Prov 10:26, we end this unit with a negate summary of who the wicked are, “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy one to those who send him.”
Here we have a double comparison of the wicked for emphasis. It compares two things vexing and hurtful to the body with that which is frustrating and damaging in social relationships. What acidic vinegar to poor teeth, smoke to eyes, and a sluggard to a sender have in common is unexpected irritation and hurt.
This verse protects the proverb against the misinterpretation that the Lord’s blessing of true wealth happens apart from diligent work, because the sluggard, who is worse than a fool, refuses to work and is an unexpected source of hurt and damage to others.
All believers are in full time Christ service, 2 Tim 2:4, and the sluggard is the believer who is living for himself and not for Christ. As a result, he is an irritation to God and man having no Divine Good Production.
“Vinegar” is the noun CHOMETS, חֹמֶץ. Vinegar is formed when a sugar-bearing liquid, like wine, passes through a fermentation process resulting in acetic acid.
First off, vinegar is used in scripture to denote a person at his lowest point who is given vinegar as an insult Psa 69:21.
Psa 69:21, “They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
Matthew, in his Gospel, presents the ultimate suffering Servant as such a one, Mat 27:48. He too was offered vinegar at his lowest point.
“Vinegar and Smoke” (ASHAN – עָשָׁן) both represent things that are annoying, as vinegar is sharp to the taste and painful to the teeth, while smoke causes the eyes to be irritated. These metaphors are used for the “sluggard”, (the Adjective used pronominally ATSEL – עָצֵל, meaning, “idle, lazy, etc.”), who we saw in Prov 6:6, 9, who like the wicked are without a moral sense of responsibility to others and are thus an irritant to those by whom they are employed because of their lack of production. They disappoint, irritate, and exasperate those who send them.
“A. D. Crown in his book, “Messengers and Scribes: The Sopher and Mazkir in the Old Testament,” has shown that royal messengers in the ancient Near East could hold very high, even a courtly, social status. They were privy to the innermost thoughts and confidences of the king and were often entrusted with the most difficult tasks involving transporting prisoners and conveying and gathering information over long distances. Often they were entrusted with a high degree of authority that transcended the mere transmission of instructions (see also 13:17).” (Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary.)
Waltke’s note is a perfect description of the Royal Priests and Ambassadors of the Church Age which includes every believer, even those who are in reversionism.
Therefore, the wicked is one who is not producing Divine Good, the fruit of the Spirit, and will be discarded as in John 15:6, by means of the Sin Unto Death, the third stage of Divine Discipline.
John 15:6, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”
In addition, the reversionistic believer will lose out on blessings and rewards in the eternal state, (wood, hay, and straw), because they did not build on the foundation of Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 3:10-15.
So coming full circle, we see in vs. 23-26 that the righteous are blessed by the Lord for their diligent service unto Him, not by their own human power and resources but by the grace provisions of the Lord, with blessings and rewards for both time and eternity. Yet, the sluggard believer will have ruin and destruction in time and loss of rewards in eternity, being an irritant to God and man. The righteous believer will have strength to carry the day, while the wicked believer will have nothing to sustain him in the time of trouble. These verses speak to the transience (existing for a short time) of the wicked and the security of the righteous, providing a transition to the topic of vs. 27-30, contrasting how the wicked and righteous believer deals with fear and its consequences.
Unit 5, Vs. 27-30, Contrasting Fear.
This subunit elaborates the topic of the permanence of the righteous versus the transience of the wicked noted in vs. 24-25, and emphasizes our conduct as Christians as each verse uses “ethical terms” in their comparisons (i.e., fear of the Lord and righteous, versus wicked and evil doer) rather than terms of wisdom. Therefore, “head knowledge” is extrapolated to “application in life” in these comparisons.
Prov 10:27, “The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.”
“Fear” is the Hebrew Noun YIRAH, יִרְאָה as opposed to MEGORAH that we saw in vs. 24. MEGORAH means, “fear or terror” being afraid of something or someone, where YIRAH means, “awe and respect”, which is the concept of worship and obedience towards YHVH (the “Lord” God), has we saw in Prov 1:7, 29; 2:5; 8:13; 9:10, and is in every other usage in this book, as we will see.
As we have noted, “having fear for the Lord” means respect of and obedience towards the Lord in worship, prayer, conduct, and faith. The only way we can do this is to know His Word, which tells us about Him and His way of thinking. Therefore, “fear of the Lord” is the intake and application of Bible Doctrine on a consistent basis.
So our comparison begins with the contrast in how the believer thinks about the Lord, do we respect Him and His Word through our obedience to it in our lives, or do we not by neglecting and rejecting Him and His Word.
This contrast will progress in the next three verses, culminating in the result of not respecting God and His word with the other type of fear that means being afraid, accompanied by worry and anxiety.
Now in this first verse, if we do have YIRAH for the Lord, there is an associated blessing we receive, “prolonged life” as we also saw in the prologue of Chapters 1-9.
“Prolonged” is the causative Hiphil Imperfect of YASAPH, יָסַף that means, “to add, increase, or continue.” So we are caused to have an increase.
It is used here with the Noun YOM, יוֹם translated “life” that really means “days”, that once again emphasizes the blessing associate with the intake and application of God’s Word, a “longer life” or “more days” here on earth to glorify God, as noted in Prov 3:2; 9:11.
This is contrasted in the second half of this verse with the “wicked person’s shortened life,” which is that of the reversionistic believer.
“Wicked” is RASHA once again, and “shortened” is QATSAR, קָצַר, that means, “to harvest, to shorten”.
“Life” is the Plural of the Noun SHANAH, שָָׁנה, meaning, “years.”
Therefore, the wicked person will not have extended days to glorify God because of the third stage of Divine discipline that will come upon them, as noted above in vs. 25a, “is no more”, in the understanding of John 15:6 that also uses the analogy of a harvest.
John 15:6, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”
And please remember that John 15:6 is not speaking about losing your salvation, it is a metaphor of a negative harvest, where there is no fruit and the non-fruit bearing branches that are gathered and burned up in the fire of 1 Cor 3:12-15, the BEMA seat of Jesus Christ, which is for positive and reversionistic believers who will be in heaven.
Finally, the “prolonged life” YASAPH YOM, of the righteous believer is compared to the “no sorrow” ETSEB life of vs. 22 that means, “no toil or laborious work” to execute God’s plan for your life, as YASAPH is used there to tell us that God does not require us to “add” our human power, resources, or assets to our spiritual walk, but that it is totally by faith and the grace of God that we worship, serve, and glorify Him, with the result that we are blessed in time and eternity.
Then in Prov 10:28 we have, “The hope of the righteous is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked perishes.”
“Hope” is the noun TOCHELETH, תּוֹחֶלֶת, that means, “expectation or hope.” Just as the Greek word ELPIS means, “hope or confident expectation”, so does TOCHELETH here. It is used only six times in the Hebrew, and typically refers to hope in the Lord.
In the context of our chapter, this confident expectation is the kind of hope that honors God and prospers the community, having adjusted to the justice of God, walking in His plan consistently. You confidently and securely reside inside of God’s plan for your life with a Personal Sense of Destiny, thereby having impact on those around you.
This confident expectation of the “righteous” TSADDIQ, results in “gladness”, SIMCHAH, שִׂמְחָה meaning, “joy, gladness, or rejoicing.” It denotes both the feeling and display of joy, and often expresses exceeding joy or jubilation. It means being glad or joyful in your whole disposition, as indicated by its association with the heart, in Psa 19:8; 105:3.
This joy is demonstrated in joyful leaping, Jer 50:11, stamping of the feet and hand clapping, Isa 55:12, dance, music, and joyful shouts, 1 Sam 18:6; 2 Sam 6:12, 14. It is seen at marriages, Song 3:11; Jer 7:34; 25:11, wine harvest, Isa 9:2; 16:10, reception of victors, 1 Sam 18:6, the coronation of a king, 1 Sam 11:15; 1 Kings 1:40, 45, and holy days, Num 10:10.
So here we see the joy the positive believer has as a result of having their hopes and desires met, as they are fulfilled in what they are doing in life, as they walk inside the Plan of God consistently, which is expressed in outward rejoicing. The inner happiness of God, +H, is expressed outwardly.
So here we have seen two of the 11 Problem Solving Devices, a Personal Sense of Destiny and +H, Sharing the Happiness of God.
“But the expectation of the wicked perishes.”
“Expectation” is the synonym to TOCHELETH, the more common word TIQWAH, תִּקְָוה meaning, “hope.” Its root QAWAH means, “to wait or long for.” TIQWAH is used for both positive and negative hope, as here it is used for the “hope” or expectation of the “wicked”, RASHA, that “perishes”, ABAD, אָבַד (avadh) that means, “to destroy, to annihilate, to perish, to ruin, or to exterminate” with the nuances of becoming lost, Lev 26:38, going astray, Psa 2:12, or dying, Esther 4:16.
The meaning here is that for those believers who are in reversionism, whatever they are hoping or longing for in this life will not be satisfied. Their lusts and desires will not be satiated. Their frantic search for happiness inside of Satan’s Cosmic System will not be met. They will have a constant longing for something, which will not come to fruition. Their lusts and desires will perish with them.
So the two basic ways of life described throughout Proverbs are here contrasted by comparing their results; fulfillment and joy in life for the righteous, yet unfulfilled desires leading to sorrow and death for the wicked.
Prov 23:18, “Surely there is a future (for the righteous), and your hope will not be cut off.”
Prov 24:14, “Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find it, then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Prov 11:7, “When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of strong men perishes.”
Prov 11:23, “The desire of the righteous is only good, but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.”
Then in Prov 10:29 we have, “The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright, but ruin to the workers of iniquity.”
“The way” (DEREK) “of the Lord” (YHVH) “is a stronghold” is the Noun MA’OZ, מָעוֹז that means, “a place or means of safety, protection, refuge, or stronghold.” It is used of various strongholds, such as fortresses, e.g., Dan 11:31, cities which are fortified, Isa 23:4, and lands where one seeks refuge, Isa 30:2f. It can also denote an area which is strategically defensible, as in a hill, Judges 6:26. The noun is frequently used as a simile for the protection of YHVH, who is the Protector, the Fortress of the righteous, 2 Sam 22:33, and the poor and defenseless, Psa 27:1; 28:8; 31:4; 37:39.
Who is the Lord a fortress for here? “The upright”, TOM תֹּם meaning, “completeness and integrity.” It uses TOM for a person who is literally “the one of integrity,” which usually then is translated as “the upright” or “the righteous.”
Just as the Greek word PLEROO stands for the spiritually mature believer filled with Bible Doctrine, here too we see those who are spiritually mature walking in the integrity of God consistently. Therefore, in times of difficulties and disasters, outward pressures and stress, the Lord is the fortress or refuge for the spiritually mature believer.
This is the “way” of the Lord, that refers to his character and conduct to reveal and uphold His ways of righteousness and morality, and His determination to bless the righteous and discipline the wicked, cf. Psa 27:11; 67:2; 119:27; 143:8; Mat 22:16; Acts 9:2; 18:25-26; 24:14
The Lord is not a hiding place for the reversionistic believer but a Father of discipline as His judgments bring, “ruin to the workers of iniquity.”
“Ruin” is the Noun MECHITTAH, מְחִתָּה meaning, “terror or destruction” as we saw in vs. 14 & 15. Here it is the introduction of inward stress upon the soul, because the reversionistic believer does not have or put up the FLOT line of their soul, (i.e., the armor of God, Eph 6:12ff).
11 Problem Solving Devices, on the FLOT Line of Your Soul!
- Filling of the Holy Spirit
- Doctrinal Orientation
- Faith Rest Drill
- Grace Orientation
- Authority Orientation
- Personal Sense of Destiny
- Personal Love for God the Father
- Impersonal Unconditional Love for Mankind
- Sharing the Perfect Happiness of God
- Occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ
As a result, the outward pressures of life become inward stress upon the soul leading to fear, worry, and anxiety. This fear leads to Divine discipline as noted above.
This “destruction” is for those who are “workers of iniquity”, which is PA’AL, meaning, “to make, practice, or commit”, and AWEN אָוֶן meaning, “trouble, sorrow, wickedness, idolatry, iniquity, or evil”, cf. Prov 6:12, 18.
Therefore, it means those who are consistently walking outside of God’s Plan for their lives, those who are consistently out of fellowship with God, walking in sin; the reversionistic believer who walks inside of Satan’s cosmic system. For them there is the assurance of God’s justice in Divine discipline that can lead to the Sin Unto Death, with no rewards and blessing in the eternal state.
This theme is continued in Prov 10:30, “The righteous will never be shaken, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.”
First we have the blessing: “The righteous”, (TSADDIQ), “will never”, is the Hebrew negative Particle BAL, בַּל meaning, “not”, with (OLAM – forever, eternity, something everlasting), for “will never.” Then we have “be shaken” that is the simple passive Niphal Imperfect Verb MOT, מוֹט meaning, “to totter or falter.” Altogether it means, “the righteous will not receive the action of faltering”, “they will not be shaken.”
The righteous believer will not crumble under weight of adversity causing him to sin, and thereby receive Divine discipline. He will walk securely in this life, he will not have fear, worry, or anxiety, and he will not lose out on rewards and blessings.
“But the wicked (RASHA) will not (LO) dwell in the land (ERETS – earth or land).”
“Dwell” is the Qal Imperfect Verb SHAKAN, שָׁכַן that means, “to settle, to abide, or to stay.” Therefore, the reversionistic believer will not remain in the land.
Living in the land was the consummate phrase for blessings in time and eternity for the Jews as God promised land blessings to Israel in both conditional and unconditional covenants, cf. 2 Sam 7:10; Psa 37:29; 69:36.
2 Sam 7:10, “I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly.”
Here it is in regard to the conditional covenant of the Mosaic Law, as to whether they would be blessed or not. If the Jews kept the Law, they would be blessed; if they did not, they would be disciplined.
There are Five Covenants to Israel; four unconditional and one conditional.
- The Abrahamic covenant defines the race for client nation Israel, (an eternal people). Abraham became a Jew at age 99; circumcision was the sign, Gen 12:1-3; 13:15-16; 15:18, 22:15-18; 26:3-4; Ex 6:2-8.
- The Palestinian covenant defines the land for client nation Israel, (eternal land), Gen 15:18; Num 34:1-12; Deut 30:1-9; Josh 1:3-4. This is the real estate of the client nation.
- The Mosaic Law defines the policy for client nation Israel (both spiritual and temporal policy). This is the one conditional covenant, and blessings are either given or withheld, as a result of Israel’s volition towards God and His Law, Lev 26, (including the 5 Cycles of National Discipline for client nation Israel in 14-38).
- The Davidic covenant defines the dynasty for client nation Israel, (an eternal throne and king), 2 Sam 7:8-16; Psa 89:20-37.
- The New Covenant defines the restoration of the client nation Israel at the Second Advent and its millennial operation, Jer 31:31-34, which is not operational until the Second Advent.
Thus in our passage, the abiding or dwelling in the land is figurative language to emphasize the benefits and blessings involved in the conditional Mosaic Covenant. Those who walk in a relationship with the Lord are allowed to live in the place of His presence, His holy hill or fortress, and thus experience intimate fellowship with God and its accompanying blessings. Cf. Prov 2:21, “For the upright will live in the land and the blameless will remain in it.” While the reversionistic believer will be cut off from God’s blessings and suffer the consequences of their actions.
Like the preceding verses, this poem promises security to the obedient and warns the wise that the wicked will not be secure in this life, and will suffer God’s discipline rather than His blessings.
Unit 6, Vs. 31-32, The Conclusion of Contrasting Speech.
In this unit the subjects continue to be the righteous and the wicked believer, and the topic returns to the contrast of speech, but in connection with their destiny.
Prov 10:31, “The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, but the perverted tongue will be cut out.”
We begin with the “righteous” (TSADDIQ) person’s “mouth” (PEH), that “flows with wisdom”, (CHOKMAH). This is the believer who is filled with God’s Word and applies it to life’s situations in their speech. It means that this positive believer uses his words to evangelize the lost or exhort his fellow believers, bringing life to its hearers as indicated in the Hebrew word for “flows.”
“Flows” is the Qal Imperfect Verb NUB, נוּב (nuv) that means, “to increase or thrive.” It is used only here and in Psa 92:14 and Zech 9:17 in a positive way, as well as negatively in Psa 62:10. The verbal idea of the word is “to bear fruit,” and by extension, “to grow or to increase.”
Psa 92:12-15, “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, 15To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
In our verse it means the righteous person’s words bring forth wisdom for the benefit of those who listen; his speech bears fruit. That is, the words of the positive believer edify those he speaks to rather than tearing them down as most people’s words tend to do these days.
“But the perverted tongue (LASHON will be cut out.”
Continuing with the agricultural metaphor context, this part contrasts a lush or fruitful plant that is vibrant and growing with one that is cut off because it is not producing fruit, it is not fruitful, as we noted in John 15:1-6; cf. Isa 5:1-6. Therefore, this part contrasts the consequences of righteous words that edify (produce fruit) with evil ones that result in Divine discipline for its speaker, (being cut out).
“Perverted” is the noun TAHPUKAH, תַּהְפֻּכָה meaning, “perversity or perverse things.” We saw this word in Prov 2:12, 14; 6:14; 8:13. It is used for the person who speaks perverted things, like gossiping, maligning, slandering, lying, blaspheming, or anything that is antagonistic towards God, His Word and His people. It includes false doctrines and sinful speech, (i.e., sins of the tongue).
Prov 2:12, “To deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things.”
The one with the perverted tongue “will be cut out”, which is the passive Niphal Imperfect of the Verb KARATH, כָּרַת that means, “to cut off, to cut down, or to exterminate”, as in Prov 2:22.
Prov 2:22, “But the wicked will be cut off from the land and the treacherous will be uprooted from it.”
In extended meanings, this word is used to refer to people who are cut off, signifying they are destroyed, as a result of their evil ways.
In addition, it is used to refer to “cutting” or “making” a covenant. The covenant can be between two people or between God and man, as we saw in the conditional covenant of the Mosaic Law relationship with God and Israel in vs. 30, as the “wicked will not dwell in the land,” which is a metaphor of God’s discipline towards the reversionistic believer.
Here in vs. 31, as in vs. 29-30, the Lord is the agent who disciplines, i.e., cuts their tongue out. To cut the tongue out means to stop someone from speaking any further, and in this case to bring a halt to the sins of the tongue (perversion – TAHPUKAH), the reversionistic believer is spreading. And how does that happen? It typically is the result of someone dying the Sin Unto Death, which stops them from spreading evil here on earth.
So just as in Unit 5, vs. 27-30, the discipline for the reversionistic believer that is in view is the final stage of Divine discipline, (i.e., years shortened, expectations perish, ruin/destruction, will not dwell in the land, and now cut out).
Then in our final verse of Chapter 10 we have in Prov 10:32, “The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.”
This complements vs. 31 with the “lips”, (SAPHAH), of the “righteous”, (TSADDIQ), “brings forth”, which is actually the Qal Imperfect Verb YADAH, that means, “to know or understand”, “what is acceptable”, which is the Noun RATSON, that means, “favor, pleasure, or will”, i.e. “pleasing.”
So the first half of vs. 32 should read, “The speech of the righteous will know what is pleasing.” This is the application of Bible Doctrine in your speech. In other words, the righteous will speak / apply, God’s Word in all situations of life which is certainly pleasing to God, as being part of His will. At the same time, these words will be pleasing to man winning many souls to salvation and encouraging down trodden fellow believers. Therefore, the righteous person’s words will be edifying to the souls of its hears
1 Thes 2:3-5, “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; 4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. 5For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.”
Rom 14:17-19, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18For he who in this way serves Christ is pleasing to God and approved by men. 19So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up (edifying) of one another.”
2 Tim 2:4, “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”
To be pleasing to God, we have to leave our old life of sin behind and walk in His righteousness.
Eph 5:7-10, “Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”
Rom 12:1, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Jesus is our example of how to be pleasing to God.
Rom 15:3, “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.”
Therefore, rather than living for yourself and your own pleasures, living to satisfy them day in and day out, we live for the benefit of others and the glorification of God.
Enoch walked in such a way as another example as how to live by faith, which is how we please the Lord.
Heb 11:5-6, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP, (he was raptured); 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.” (Italic in parenthesis mine)
We are empowered to please God not by our own human efforts and resources, but by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ in us, (Bible Doctrine plus the filling of God the Holy Spirit).
Heb 13:20-21, “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
1 Thes 4:1, “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.”
Living a life that pleases God also affects our prayers, as they are answered when we live by His Word which is pleasing to Him.
1 John 3:22, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”
Our rewards in the eternal state depend on us being pleasing to God.
2 Cor 5:9-10, “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment (BEMA) seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
Children’s respect for their parents is pleasing to God, Col 3:20, “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.”
Workers operating in righteousness on the job are pleasing to God, Titus 2:9.
Our free will offerings given in joy are pleasing to God, Phil 4:18.
Yet the contrast! “But the mouth of the wicked bringing forth what is perverted”, is not pleasing to God.
“The mouth”, (PEH), “of the wicked”, (RASHA), [will bring forth], “what is perverted” (TAHPUKAH), once again.
Here we see that the wicked person brings forth (speaks) perverted things, things which are contrary to God’s Word, whether they are false doctrines or any one of the sins of the tongue.
As Rom 8:7 tells us, “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God (Bible Doctrine), for it is not even able to do so, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
The wise believer thinks long and hard before speaking, e.g., vs. 19b, they know how to make their words, teaching, and counsel acceptable and pleasing to God and edifying to man. Yet the wicked, who speak from the flesh, (their Old Sin Nature), and are careless about their words, vs. 19a, offer nothing but their own twisted thoughts. As we have seen, a person’s words reveal the nature of his heart, Prov 23:7, and for this type of believer, their disaster is sure when the Lord withholds his blessings from them and instead brings about His discipline.
Therefore, in contrast to the righteous believer, the wicked person uses his words not as edifying to mankind, but as the devil’s advocate to confuse God’s righteous principles and precepts to overthrow God’s rule in their souls. Cf. Col 3:1-17.