Proverbs ~ Chapter 12
Proverbs Contrasting Righteous and Wicked Lives, Chapter 10-15.
Josh Billings, the pen name for Henry Wheeler Shaw, (a distant relative of mine), was a humorist and lecturer of the 1800’s. He stated that “genuine proverbs are like good (kambrick) needles—short, sharp, and shiny.” They are thought-provoking to the interpreter. On one hand, they prick the mind through their “teasing refusal to explain themselves.” On the other hand, they prick one into thought by the sharpness of brevity and by vivid pictures and analogies.”
Proverbs Chapter 12 gives us more contrasts between the righteous and the wicked in regard to their thoughts, speech, and actions, along with their respective associated Divine judgments; blessings versus Divine discipline.
“This chapter traverses with keen observation all the realms of life, and everywhere finds confirmation of its great principle that goodness is wisdom and sin folly.” (Expositions of Holy Scripture.)
It is made up of two sections of equal length, vs. 1-14 and vs. 15-28. It deals with thought, speech, and action, (mental, verbal, and overt behaviors), of the righteous and the wicked contrasting the blessings for the righteous with the judgment of the wicked. Each sub-unit identifies for us the close relationship between character, conduct, and consequences in regard to our thoughts, speech, and actions.
Each section begins with an educational aphorism contrasting the teachability of the wise with the incorrigibility of the fool, vs. 1, 15. And to encourage the son to accept the teachings that follow, each half concludes with a proverb promising the righteous life now and into eternity, vs. 14, 28.
There is also a correlation between Prov 11:31-12:1 & 12:28-13:1, in regard to the linkage between divine judgment and receiving God’s Word where “discipline” is used for the academic setting of receiving God’s Word that results in blessings.
As H.A. Ironside notes, the theme for Chapter 12 is, “The man who loves instruction for its own sake values true knowledge, whatever channel it may come through.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
Section 1, vs. 1-14
The introduction of vs. 1-3, lays down foundational truths about wisdom, ethics, and theology, emphasizing the mentality of the soul as either righteous or wicked. Then the main body contains two subunits that pertain to speech, vs. 4-7, and actions, vs. 8-12 contrasting the righteous and wicked. Then vs. 13-14 serve as a link between the first and second sections. The pun on “good” in vs. 2 (of people) and vs. 14 (of things) frames the first section.
We begin with the first subunit of Section 1, vs. 1-3.
Prov 12:1, Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”
“Whoever loves discipline” is the Qal Active Participle Verb AHEB for “love” and the Noun MUSAR for “discipline.” Remember this “discipline” means training by words and actions; instruction. This means taking in God’s Word consistently in an academic setting, as we do here at all of our services. The one who loves the academic setting is the one who truly “loves knowledge.”
“Loves Knowledge” is AHEB with DA’ATH meaning “knowledge or skill.” Knowledge here is epignosis Doctrine, God’s Word, resident within your soul. This is the person who loves God’s Word and cannot wait to learn more of it and have it in their soul. This is the one who truly loves their day to day relationship with the Lord.
In view here is both the training process and the data necessary to obtain God’s “wisdom” and walk in a close and intimate relationship with Him. The believer who loves the academic setting of the inculcation of God’s Word is one who also loves God’s Word (i.e., knowledge). Discipline begets knowledge, and knowledge begets discipline. The one who loves God loves both.
There is a direct correlation between these two that manifests itself in the life of the believer. In other words, God can tell who the people are who truly love God’s Word, because they are present at the academic setting of the intake of Bible Doctrine when it is taught by their right Pastor/teacher. And for those believers who do not make the intake a first priority in their lives, it is just a hobby at best and a duty at worst.
Pastor Bill Wenstrom sent out a note today from Steven Lawson that is pertinent to this discussion. Steven Lawson writes “A new way of doing church is emerging. In this radical paradigm shift, exposition is being replaced with entertainment, preaching with performances, doctrine with drama, and theology with theatrics. The pulpit, once the focal point of the church, is now being overshadowed by a variety of church-growth techniques, everything from trendy worship styles to glitzy presentations to vaudeville-like pageantries. In seeking to capture the upper hand in church growth, a new wave of pastors is reinventing church and repackaging the gospel into a product to be sold to ‘consumers.'” (The Priority of Biblical Preaching: An Expository of Acts 2:42-47,” Bibliotheca Sacra 158 (April 2001): 198.)
Unfortunately, these pastors are just placating to the appetites of the people in our generation who may say they love God, but truly do not, as they will not stand for more than 5-10 minutes of a Bible lesson before they are bored to tears or distracted by the details of life and want to hear nice stories and fantasies.
Yet, the one who does love God, loves the academic setting and loves receiving more and more epignosis doctrine to discover new things about God every day; building and growing in their relationship with Him.
“But he who hates reproof is stupid.”
“He who hates reproof” is the Qal Active Participle of SANE for “hates”, plus the noun TOKACHATH, תּוֹכַחַת that means a, “rebuke, correction, reproof, or argument.” The primary thrust of this word is that of correcting some wrong.
This is the person who does not want to learn God’s Word, especially because it steps on their toes, i.e., tells them to stop doing certain things that they are doing, or to start doing things they are not doing. They are afraid of the changes God’s Word may have on their lives, not knowing that those changes are for the better both now and in eternity.
So the one who hates the academic setting for the inculcation of God’s is “stupid” BA’AR, in God’s eyes, meaning they are “senseless, foolish, or brutish.” Its root BEIYR means to be like an animal grazing. “It refers to a stupid man who does not have the rationality that differentiates men from animals, Psa 73:22.” (Chou-Wee Pan, NIDOTTE.) It means that this person just keeps on doing what they have been doing inside of Satan’s cosmic system like a dumb animal, not knowing that the things they are doing are hurtful to them and those around them. They just keep on grazing in the fields of oblivion.
Therefore, the one who hates reproof, Prov 1:22, stands outside of God’s Plan for the inculcation of Bible Doctrine in an academic setting, cf. Prov 9:3, and belongs to the animal kingdom.
And that is what the believer is who does not take seriously the academic setting for the teaching of God’s Word, and instead either does not bother with it at all, or listens casually and only when it is convenient for them.
Unfortunately, too many Christians are fitting God into their schedule rather than fitting themselves into God’s schedule, and they wonder why they do not have the things of life God desires for them.
Until you place God as your number one priority in life you will be just chasing after your own tail, day after day, and never getting ahead in the spiritual life and never producing Divine Good to God’s glory.
A necessary condition of learning is having the desire to learn.
Those who love knowledge are willing and eager to be corrected, since they know that learning has at least two aspects: 1) gaining new material, and 2) having wrong information, interpretations, or practices corrected.
On the other hand, whoever despises correction is little better than a brute, since their attitude renders them unwilling and unable to learn. This makes them vulnerable to the deceptions of Satan’s cosmic system, since they cannot benefit from the wisdom of God, cf. Prov 1:25, 30; 13:18.
Prov 1:25, “And you neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof.”
Prov 1:30, “They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof.”
Prov 13:18, “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored.”
The Word of God is designed for application. As believers with sin natures, we are not going to make good or righteous decision from our flesh inside Satan’s cosmic system. Therefore, we need to learn the Word of God in order to correct the wrong decisions we make.
If we do not like to receive correction in the form of the academic setting of expository Bible teaching, then we will also not be able to apply God’s Word to our lives. As a result, we will be destined to continue to wallow our way through life, making bad decision after bad decision and never producing Divine Good nor sharing in the Happiness of God.
This also points out the arrogance complex of the soul of the believer who does not learn and / or does not apply God’s Word to life. They truly think more highly of themselves than they ought to, Rom 12:3, and just keep on living the same way they have for years, thinking they have it all down and are doing it right. But unfortunately, they are doing it all wrong because they have no humility to learn and try something new.
This is the person of Prov 30:2-3, “Surely I am more stupid than any man, and I do not have the understanding of a man. 3Neither have I learned wisdom, nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.”
As a result, this believer will not be a recipient of God’s grace, but instead will be under His judgment, vs. 2, and therefore does not have a good future in store for himself, vs. 3.
“The educational saying (v. 1) is now connected with the ethical and religious sayings.” (Waltke, NIC)
Prov 12:2, “A good man will obtain favor from the LORD, but He will condemn a man who devises evil.”
In this verse, we see the judgment of the Lord once again towards both the righteous and the wicked.
“A good man” is the Masculine Singular of the Noun TOB (tov) that means, “good.” Here it stands for the man walking in the righteousness of God. It is a believer who plans to apply God’s Word that he has learned under the academic setting, produce Divine good, and act well in this life, whereas the wicked man is one “who devises evil.”
“Will obtain” is the declarative Hiphil and future Imperfect Verb PUQ, פּוּק that means, “to wobble or to bring out, elicit, obtain, or cause to come out from.”
This is a play on words with “will not be moved”, BAL MOT, in vs. 3. PUQ is used twice in scripture for “wobble”, first in Isa 28:7 for “drunken staggering” in an analogy for reversionism in Israel, which here with the negative will not happen to the righteous believer. In addition, Jeremiah uses the verb in Jer 10:4, to describe the process of idol making and the absurdity of worshiping these material images, especially when these idols have to be hammered to their bases, lest they “wobble.” These objects considered to possess some divinity by pagan worshipers are incapable of even remaining upright, let alone of possessing any supernatural force. Therefore, we see the comparison to the righteous believer who is not steeped in sin, evil, and human good, including false doctrines. He is steeped in sound Bible Doctrine as he walks in righteousness producing Divine good.
Therefore, the thing the righteous man “obtains” here is the “favor of the Lord”, (RATSON – רָצוֹן YHVH – יְהָוה). In vs. 3, the blessing is a solid physical and spiritual foundation for generations to come.
Once again we have the principle of what is pleasing (RATSON) to the Lord, which is walking in His righteousness, which we noted in Prov 8:35; 10:32; 11:1, 20, 27. This also indicates that when we walk in righteousness, we have capacity for God’s blessings in time and eternity.
So this first character is one who has loved the academic setting for the inculcation of Bible Doctrine and the resultant epignosis doctrine he has received, who by means of it, walks in God’s will and plan on a consistent basis, having a positive impact on the community around him and his future offspring, as noted in vs. 3. This pleases the Lord with the result that God is able to pour out His blessings upon him in both time and eternity.
“But He will condemn a man who devises evil.”
Here is our second character, one who “devises evil,” and as a result brings harm to the greater community and potentially to his offspring.
“He will condemn” is the declarative Hiphil and future Imperfect once again, but this time with the Verb RASHA, רָשַׁע that means, “wickedness”, and here, “to act wickedly or to condemn as guilty.”
RASHA encompasses all of Israel’s covenant-breaking behavior in Neh 9:33, and it is summed up as turning away from God in Psa 18:21
Psa 18:21, “For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.”
Therefore, it is speaking about the believer who is walking in sin and Satan’s cosmic system, walking in reversionism. This is the foolish and evil believer who is operating in sin on a consistent basis where God’s judgment will be against him, leading to Divine discipline and loss of blessings and rewards in time and eternity and potentially for future generations.
This sinful believer is identified as “a man who devises evil”, (ISH MEZIMMAH).
The Noun MEZIMMAH, מְזִמָּה simply means, “a thought, plan, purpose, discretion, device, or plot.” So literally it means, “a man who plots or devises.” Therefore, it is mental attitude sinning that can also lead to verbal and/or overt sinning too.
Previously in Proverbs we have noted this word in regard to the righteous that have “discretion” in Prov 1:4; 2:11; 3:21; 5:2; 8:12. But in the last three usages of MEZIMMAH in Proverbs it means, “evil plans or thoughts”, Prov 14:17; 24:8.
Prov 14:17, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices [MEZIMMAH] is hated.”
Prov 24:8-9, “One who plans to do evil, men will call a schemer (mischief maker) [MEZIMMAH]. 9The devising [ZIMMAH] of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to men.”
So we have a believer who is filled with mental attitude sins, plotting and planning to bring harm and evil against others so that he can get ahead in this life. This is the person of Prov 6:18a who practice one of the 7 Abominations to the Lord. Prov 6:18, “A heart that devises wicked plans.”
Yet in reality, God has everything under control and will bring about His judgment against the wicked, both believers and unbelievers. Therefore, we note that the Lord is the agent who upholds the moral order by blessing those who walk in righteousness and disciplining those who walk in sin and evil, performing both with longsuffering and lovingkindness, Deut 34:6-7; Num 14:18; Psa 86:15; Rom 2:4-11.
Deut 34:6-7, “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger (longsuffering/patience), and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
Vs. 2 & 3 are separate sayings, but are closely linked. Vs. 2 explained the righteous and the wicked’s contrasting fates on the basis of Divine activity, and now vs. 3 contrasts the two regarding judgment by association.
Prov 12:3, “A man will not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will not be moved.”
“Will not be established” is the negative particle LO with the passive Niphil future Imperfect Verb KUN, “to prepare or establish.” Here “established” is synonymous with “root” of the righteous in the second half of this verse. They both mean the setting of a foundation for future generations. Here the wicked reversionist will not establish a good foundation for his offspring; they will lose out on blessings by association. And given the context of vs. 1, they will not pass down a foundation of sound Bible Doctrine from generation to generation.
“By wickedness” is the Preposition BE and the Noun RESHA. This is the opposite of TSEDEQ – righteousness. Here the evil man (reversionist) will ultimately not prosper and succeed because eventually their evil will catch up to them and destroy them, as we have noted previously in Proverbs, cf. Prov 4:17; 8:7; 10:2. And as a result, his offspring may suffer.
“The root of the righteous will not be moved.”
“The Root” is the Noun SHORESH, שֹׁרֶשׁ. This identifies the offspring of the righteous.
“The Righteous” is the Adjective TSADDIQ used pronominally. This is the believer walking inside of God’s Plan for their life, keeping themselves experientially sanctified.
“Will not be moved” is the Particle BAL, בַּל for “not or nothing” with the passive Niphil future Imperfect Verb MOT, מוֹט that means, “to totter or falter.”
Remember, that “totter or falter” is a play on words with “obtain”, PUQ, of vs. 2 that can also mean, “to wobble.” In that sense similar to Isa 28:7 noted above, Isa 40:20 uses MOT for false doctrine, idol worship, “He who is too impoverished for such an offering selects a tree that does not rot; he seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman to prepare an idol that will not totter.” cf. Isa 41:7.
MOT with the negative is also used for the foundation of the earth to spin correctly on its access in Psa 104:5. And used alone in Isa 24:19 for a prophecy of End Times when during the Tribulation the earth will lose its correct spin.
Isa 24:19-21, “The earth is broken asunder, the earth is split through, the earth is shaken (MOT) violently. 20The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard and it totters like a shack, for its transgression is heavy upon it, and it will fall, never to rise again. 21So it will happen in that day, that the LORD will punish the host of heaven on high, and the kings of the earth on earth.”
But here it is for the righteous believer who will not wobble, totter, or falter; because they have a solid foundation / root of salvation in Christ and Bible Doctrine in their soul.
Combining “root” and “will not be moved” usually describe the permanence of something; a stability. Here it is that the righteous will receive the action of not being moved and receive stability in their life and for generations to come. We noted that the righteous will never be moved in Prov 10:30.
Prov 10:30, “The righteous will never be shaken, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.”
Psa 62:2, “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.”
So the second blessing is identified. The first was the blessing of “being blessed by God in time and eternity”, and here it is “blessing by association” for their offspring. The blessing and blessing by association can be in the way of material things in time, escrow blessing in eternity, and most importantly, having a solid foundation of sound Bible Doctrine passed down from generation to generation.
“The root of the righteous will not be moved” identifies the spiritually mature believer’s offspring and declares them as being safe. This is in contrast to the unrighteous man who is said to have his roots wrapped about a heap of stones, such as scrub brush which is prone to dry up and perish, Job 8:17. That is, he is not a blessing to his offspring.
In addition, although sin may seem to payoff quite well in this life, as the warnings against envying the wicked imply, e.g., Prov 23:17f; 24:1f, 19f; cf. Psa 37; 73, it does not provide a firm foundation for life. And it especially does not pass down a righteous spiritual heritage of Bible Doctrine that can assure blessings to future generations.
Yet a righteous life, which grows out of having Bible Doctrine in the right lobe of your soul, has a permanent and secure foundation now and for generations to come, Psa 16:8; 17:5; 30:6; 121:3, as a righteous believer passes on his doctrine to future generations.
Psa 16:8, “I have set the LORD continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
Psa 17:5, “My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped.”
Psa 121:33, “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.”
From vs. 3 we also understand that we can know our future. If we operate in righteousness, we will have a secure future of blessings from the Lord for ourselves and our offspring, yet if we operate in wickedness, we can expect Divine discipline from the Lord and loss of rewards, as Deut 32:28 notes.
Deut 32:28-29, “For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them. 29Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future!”
Prov 12:4, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.”
We now turn to the second unit of section one which includes vs. 4-12. This section compares and contrasts righteousness and wickedness inside and outside the home and business.
The first proverb concerns the house-wife that forms the beginning of this group, and at the conclusion, we will see four more verses regarding the management of the house and business.
In this verse we will compare a virtuous wife to a non-virtuous wife with their respective blessing and suffering.
“The contrasts of wives here tell us that the former is high, outward, and highly visible to the community; the latter is deep, inward, and invisible.” (Waltke, New International Commentary).
We begin with the blessing!
Prov 12:4a, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”
We begin with the virtuous wife who brings honor to her husband just as she brings to herself, as we noted in Prov 11:16.
“An excellent wife” if from the noun ISHSHAH, אִשָּׁה, meaning, “woman or wife”, here it is wife, and the Noun CHAYIL, חַיִל, that means, “strength, might, efficiency, wealth, or army.” In addition, some translate CHAYIL as “virtuous or valor.”
“Northwest and South Semitic languages widely attest this noun, generally with the military nuance dominant. The common denominator for all the nuances of chayil is “power.” There are a variety of forms of power in all societies.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
These varieties include military, economic, or political strength, wealth, dominance of one over another, etc., with the usages in the Old Testament applied mostly to an army (70 times) and then wealth (30 times).
Here it is used for the wife who has Bible Doctrine in her soul that is applied on a consistent basis. As a result, she operates in honesty and integrity, as well as having tremendous inner strength to endure and overcome the problems and difficulties of life, as well as mastering the details of life having reached the penthouse of the Edification Complex of the Soul, (ECS). She has Doctrinal Orientation to the problems of life by utilizing the 11 Problem Solving Devices. She applies the Faith Rest Drill having a Relaxed Mental Attitude. She understands and applies all three categories of Love, towards God, her right man, and impersonal and unconditional love toward all of mankind. She shares in the Happiness of God, +H.
As she applies these things to her own life, they are also projected towards others as they are blessed by her modus operandi in all of these ways, especially her husband, as noted here.
CHAYIL is also used for the wife in Prov 31:10, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” See Prov 31:10-31.
“Is the crown” is the Noun ATARAH, עֲטָרָה meaning, “garland, diadem, crown, or wreath.” A crown is a highly visible object and signifies honor and dignity that the virtuous wife is to her husband and brings to her husband.
We saw ATARAH in Prov 4:9, along with LIVYAH for garland, in regard to “wisdom” (Bible Doctrine resident in your soul) being a crown to your head. So here it emphasizes the Doctrinal woman who brings glory to herself, her husband, and most importantly God.
“Crown connotes that she is her husband’s most prominent social adornment and symbolizes her empowering him to rule.” (Waltke, New International Commentary.)
“Her husband” is an interesting word. It is the Noun BA’AL, בַּעַל with the pronominal suffix in the 3rd Person Feminine that means, “her owner, husband, or lord.” It is the proper name for the Canaanite god Baal, Yet BA’AL is never used for God, except for Hosea 2:16 in reference to the Baal’s compared to the Lord. Its verbal root means, “to marry or rule.” Here it is speaking about the virtuous woman’s husband, where in the ancient days she called him “lord”, cf. 1 Peter 3:6. We need to reinstitute some of these ancient customs, lol.
So we see the blessing a virtuous wife is to her husband, and as such, he should be tremendously appreciative for that kind of woman when he has one, because he could end up with the contrasting type of woman, as noted in the second half of our verse.
Prov 12:4b, “But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.”
This is the non-virtuous wife as noted in the word “shame” which is the causative Hiphil Participle BOSH, בּוֹשׁ meaning, “one who brings or causes shame.”
We noted BOSH in Prov 10:5 for the sluggard son who brings shame to his father. But here it is for the woman who embarrasses herself and her husband by her non-virtuous actions. She causes him frustration, disgrace, and humiliation due to her actions because she is primarily operating under the control of her sin nature, rather than from a position of strength from Bible Doctrine in her soul. So this is the non-virtuous woman.
The discipline or suffering she brings is “rottenness in the bones” which is RAQAB רָקָב ETSEM, עֶצֶם.
RAQAB (raqav) means, “rottenness or decay.” It indicates the process or result of decay and decomposition, and therefore speaks to disease that causes ill health.
It is used generically in regard to not having God’s Word applied from your soul and instead allowing the sin nature, “passion”, to rule your soul in Prov 14:30, “A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion (envy) is rottenness to the bones.”
Divine discipline includes ill health, (i.e., weak, sick, and death, 1 Cor 11:30.) Likewise, Hosea uses RAQAB for the discipline of the Lord on apostate Judah.
Hosea 5:12, “Therefore I (the Lord) am like a moth to Ephraim and like rottenness to the house of Judah.”
“Bones” is ETSEM. Throughout the Old Testament, people’s bones are regarded as the center of his physical health and strength, Job 20:11; 21:24; Prov 3:8; 15:30; Lam 4:7.
In Prov 3:8, we saw that God’s Word is a refreshment to our “bones”, as are a good report and sweet words (i.e., the application of Bible Doctrine in your speech), in Prov 15:30 & 16:24.
But here the non-virtuous woman is decay to her husband’s bones, which also means she saps or drains his strength. She undermines him in several ways by being unfaithful, Prov 2:17, contentious Prov 19:13; 21:9, 19, and/or incompetent.
Prov 21:9, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
Prov 21:19, “It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing (angry) woman.”
Keil and Delitzsch note, “This rottenness to the bones slowly but continuously increases, till at last the part of the body which the bone bears and the whole life of the man falls to ruin; so an unhappy marriage gnaws at the marrow of life, it destroys the happiness of life, disturbs the pursuit, undermines the life of the husband.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
“Solomon’s physiology is impeccable; as modern medicine has discovered emotions are an important factor in physical health.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
So we see the effect upon the husband of the non-virtuous wife. This may be the result of him allowing his wife to reject the application of Bible doctrine and act shamefully, as he is the head of his wife, 1 Cor 11:3; Eph 5:23. But remember that all women have their own volition and are responsible for their own behavior. So in any case, we have discipline or suffering by association.
Remember also, that the husband is commanded in Eph 5:25-33; 1 Peter 3:7, to love his wife regardless of how she acts or operates. Therefore, with the non-virtuous wife, it takes all the mustering of Bible Doctrine in his soul to apply impersonal and unconditional love to her, which is exhausting and can cause emotional distress, (rather than just embarrassment), that eats away at his body causing various illnesses.
The Mosaic Law allowed a man to divorce a wife who corrupted the holiness of the home, Deut 24:1-4, although it is not God’s desire for this to occur, cf. Mat 19:3-12.
For those who are yet to be married, the contrasting effects that a spouse can have upon you emphasizes the importance of choosing wisely when choosing your helpmate, cf. Prov 11:22; 18:22; 19:14.
And as Prov 12:1 told us of the opposing affections towards God’s Word that people have, these two kinds of wives show their contrasting ways of thinking and acting, cf. Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23.
“Marriage is no light matter; the wife either makes or breaks a man in his home and in the community (see 14:1; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-31).” (Waltke, New International Commentary.)
The next two verses, 5-6, of Chapter 12 show us how righteous thoughts lead to righteous words, compared to wicked thoughts that lead to wicked words. Then in vs. 7-8, we will see the consequences of both. We begin in vs. 5.
Prov 12:5, “The thoughts of the righteous are just, but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.”
This verse starts off with the “righteous” (TSADDIQ) believer whose “thoughts” (MACHASHAVAH, מַחֲשָׁבָה, thoughts or plans) are said to be “just” (MISHPAT, just, right, proper, fitting, etc.).
Here we see the right mental attitude of the righteous believer from the application of Bible Doctrine stored in the right lobe of his soul. Rather than entering into mental attitude sins from the weakness of his old sin nature (OSN), he is applying the strength of God’s Word to the decisions he makes every day. As a result, his thoughts and plans are right and just, so that his advice is also trustworthy.
This is linked with the one who devises evil of vs. 2. The “counsels” is the plural Noun TACHBULOTH, תַּחְבֻּלוֹת, which means, “steering, direction, guidance, or counsel.” We saw this noun in Prov 1:5 & 11:14. It is thought to have derived from pulling ropes in order to steer a ship. It is used six times in the Old Testament, all in Proverbs except for one use in Job 37:12. In all usages it stands for “wise counsel” except for our verse where it stands for the “wicked” (RASHA) believer’s evil and “deceitful” (MIRMAH, מִרְמָה, deceit or treachery) counsel.
So we can say that the reversionistic believer is pulling on the wrong ropes of his ship. Rather than pulling on the cords of Bible Doctrine, he is pulling on the strings of his old sin nature (OSN) that deceive him and those who listen to him.
The righteous believer is to steer clear of the one who is led and controlled by his sin nature, and instead continue to apply the Doctrine that is in his soul. Remember that the counsel of the wicked is only what is in his own best interest, not yours, and any advice is only as good as its source, which must be evaluated before acting upon it.
The righteous have one goal, to do that which is right in the sight of God and of men, but the reversionist has only selfish purposes, which they seek to attain by deceiving at the cost of others.
Prov 12:6, “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright will deliver them.”
This verse continues the theme of the wicked first and then ends with the righteous. Here we see the link between thoughts and words, and as you know; as one thinks, so goes his mouth.
The phrase “lie in wait for blood” (ARAB DAM) was also used in Prov 1:11. Here we see the outcome of the unrighteous person’s thoughts, which now leads to actions. The wicked here is trying to lure someone into a trap with their words so that they can take what is not rightfully theirs. They want to bring some kind of harm to others in order to gain something from them.
The “mouth” (PEH) of the “righteous” (YASHAR) will “deliver them” (NATSAL, saved or delivered), which means they will not be deceived by words of the deceiver and fall into their trap, cf. Prov 12:12; 14:16; 22:3.
They will be delivered by the Doctrine in their soul that gives them discernment and understanding, Prov 22:3.
Prov 22:3, “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.”
We often take the gift of speech for granted and abuse our ability that ought to be guarded and used to the glory of God.
Satan and the flesh (OSN) want to control the tongue, and the results are sad. More damage is done to lives, homes, and churches by the tongue than by any other means. The tongue can be used to damage reputations and cause trouble, when it ought to be used to praise God, pray, and witness to others about Christ.
James 3:5 tells us, “The tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.”
As such, it should be controlled and used as a tool of righteousness, Rom 6:12-19, to God’s glory.
From time to time it is important to consider some of the sins of the tongue, so that we understand their evil nature, and thereby are encouraged to use our gift of speech more carefully for righteousness’ sake.
Foolish believers who operate consistently under the sins of the tongue are recognizable in several ways:
- They are gossips. Instead of speaking directly to other believers, they criticize them behind their backs.
- They spin things to their favor, where impartiality, honesty and impersonal love are not priorities.
- They tend to NOT work toward reconciliation. They will not lay out conditions, after the meeting of which they would be happy to reconcile. There is always another problem or worry or suspicion.
- Their speech does not include much gracious context. There may be flattery or patronizing but not much humility. Therefore, they do not receive and welcome other believers as Christ has received them, Rom 15:7.
Rom 15:7, “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”
- They typically cannot be reasoned with. They will not meet you halfway.
- Their aim is to condemn others to make themselves feel better. They think they are delivered from their sins by sealing others in their sin.
- They are unable to admit wrong and confess it, due to having a lack of humility and graciousness.
So these are the “unwise” that have no grace orientation in their speech and actions, and are walking contrary to God’s Word, will, and plan for their lives.
On the other hand, the righteous will use their speech for right purposes:
- To bringing peace to the situation, Prov 15:1, 26.
- To give wise reproof to the believer walking outside of God’s will, Word, and plan, Prov 25:12; 28:23.
- To deliver lost souls from death, Prov 11:9; 14:3-5, 25; 12:6.
- To teach others the things of the Lord, Prov 15:7; 16:21, 23; 20:15.
- To carry the good news of the Gospel throughout the world, Prov 25:25.
Prov 25:25, “Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land.” Cf. Rev 3:16.
And finally, when used for good, the tongue is like:
- Valuable silver, Prov 10:20.
- A beautiful and fruitful Tree of Life, Prov 15:4; cf. Prov 12:14; 18:20.
- A refreshing well of water, Prov 10:11; 18:4.
- A healthy dose of medicine, Prov 12:18. See also James 3.
Prov 12:7, “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand.”
In vs. 1-4, we saw the comparison between wicked and righteous thoughts, words, and actions. Now in vs. 7-8, we will see the consequences of righteous thoughts, words, and actions compared to those that are wicked. As Waltke notes, “As plans (see v. 5) give rise to words (v. 6; see 16:27), words give rise to destinies (v. 7).” (NIC)
We begin with
“The wicked” – RASHA the Hebrew word for “wicked, evil, etc.”
“Are overthrown” is the Qal Infinitive Absolute of the Verb HAPHAK, הָפַךְ that means, “to turn, overthrow, or overturn.” It tells us that this believer has been changed, drained, perverted, or converted from the righteousness they once operated under. It means that evil and sin has taken over the soul of this believer. At one point they operated under the righteousness of God but for some reason, either quickly or slowly, the mentality of their soul was changed becoming more and more influenced by sin and the sin nature. This describes the reversionistic believer.
This word is also used in Prov 17:20, “He who has a crooked mind finds no good, and he who is perverted in his language falls into evil.”
The context turns this word into a metaphor for God’s judgment, as this word is also used for God’s judgment against evil such as that of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen 19:21, 25, 29; Jer 20:16; Amos 4:11; Lam 4:6, which leads to the next phrase.
“Are no more” which is the Substantive AYIN with a Pronominal Suffix in the 3rd Masculine Singular. It means, “nothing or non-existent” and is used here in regard to the judgment that the reversionistic believer will receive, Divine discipline, where the third stage of Divine discipline is in view, the Sin Unto Death. It means that this believer will no longer be here on planet earth. It does not mean they lose their salvation. In other words, “now you see them, now you don’t” as God removes them from earth as a result of the 3rd stage of Divine discipline.
The Contrast! – The blessing.
“But the house of the righteous will stand.”
Here we see the opposite of Divine discipline for the wicked, where the righteous and their family will be blessed.
“House of the righteous”, BAYITH TSADDIQ, indicates blessing by association to the current and future generations based on the blessings God is able to give to the righteous person, the one walking consistently in experiential sanctification.
“Will Stand” is the Qal (active), Imperfect (future), of AMAD עָמַד that means, “to stand.” It denotes that this house is built on a solid foundation, Christ and His Word, Prov 10:25, 30; 12:3, 12; cf. Mat 7:24-27, and that it will withstand any trial, tribulation, or disaster. It means that the lineage of the righteous person will continue for many generations. In other words, his “name” will continue. Unlike the wicked person who will be no more and won’t leave a heritage to his family, the righteous person will.
So we see that the wicked and righteous have a contrasting fate. “Their fates correspond to their plans and words: the prevaricators and murderers will themselves die, and the righteous who conform their lives to the Holy One and who aim to give life to others will live.” (Waltke NIC)
Prov 12:8, “A man will be praised according to his insight, but one of perverse mind will be despised.”
In the first half of vs. 8, it continues the blessing for the righteous.
In the Hebrew this phrase begins with LE PEH SEKEL that means, “at the mouth of his insight” and plays on the use of the mouth for righteous words. It comes to mean, “a man of insight.”
“Insight” is the Hebrew noun SEKEL, שֵׂכֶל that means, “prudence, insight, intelligence, or good sense” and is used as a moral quality in Proverbs. It is speaking about the one who applies the Bible doctrine he has acquired over the years in the academic setting of Bible teaching, “discipline” of vs. 1. This intelligence is more than just mere book knowledge, or “head” knowledge, or learning about a particular subject. It has a greater significance and means insight or understanding and has to do with a full understanding of scripture in order to apply it to daily life. It is the practical application of God’s Word to life’s situations. This insight is a gift from God, 1 Chron 22:12, and as Prov 19:11 tells us, it gives a person patience too.
Prov 19:11, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”
Only fools despise this kind of intelligence, Prov 23:9.
Prov 23:9, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”
Yet, the “man”, ISH, possessing this type of insight from Bible Doctrine in His soul “will be praised”, which is HALAL in the passive Pual and future Imperfect that means, “to flash forth light, to shine, to boast, or praise.” In the Pual Imperfect it means, “will be praised or commended.” This is an interesting word because it is used in scripture negatively for boastfulness, arrogance, etc. It is also the root word for Lucifer, “star of the morning” HEYLEL in Isa 14:12, whose arrogance regarding his God given beauty, intelligence, and power lead him to rebellion against God. Yet, used positively, as it is here, it means to praise someone. So interestingly, what the wicked desire most because of their arrogance, (praise from others), the righteous will actually receive without desiring or seeking for it, as a result of their humility.
As Prov 27:2, says, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”
Cf. Prov 31:30-31 for the praise of the righteous woman.
Therefore, it tells us of the blessing the righteous believer will receive from having wisdom and insight that comes from the right application of Bible Doctrine in your soul; they will win praise from others.
The Contrast! – The discipline.
“But one of perverse mind will be despised.”
“One of perverse mind” is AWAH for “to do wrong, or transgress” and LEB for “heart.” Here we see that this person’s heart, (right lobe of their soul), is wrong, sinful, or perverted, meaning they do not have wisdom and insight from Bible Doctrine stored in the heart of their soul, and therefore have sin and evil resident in their soul with built up scare tissue on their soul. This person is led not by the Word of God and the filling of the Holy Spirit, but by their sin nature, feelings, and emotions.
This type of believer “will be despised”, HAYAH LE BUZ that literally means, “to be for contempt.” BUZ means, “contempt” and is sometimes translated “despised or a laughingstock” in Scripture. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “contempt” as, “reproachful disdain, as for something vile or dishonorable; bitter scorn, or the state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace.”
And that is what will occur to Satan in the final judgment, and that is what happens to the reversionistic believer here on earth. Rather than being praised as they so lust for, they will receive the opposite. They will be disgraced, dishonored, and despised because of their evil deeds and actions; a laughing stock to the world.
Now remember that these verses are from the standpoint of Divine viewpoint, and those that possess it here on earth. Yet, we have to keep in mind that the world loves its own and those who are of the world love sin and sinners. At the same time, they despise righteousness and the righteous. As Waltke notes, “A wise person rescues his city without the city being thankful to him (Eccl. 9:15), and apostates praise the wicked (Prov. 28:4).” (NIC)
So you cannot judge your spiritual walk by the feedback the world gives to you, but by the feedback the righteous of this world gives to you, and by knowing God’s opinion of your thoughts, words, and deeds, as you stand confidently in His Word.
And remember that upon our Lord’s return, He will certainly commend the wise, Mat 5:11-12; Luke 12:42-44; 1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 Cor 10:18.
- So far, in 1 we have noted the theme of our Chapter, the comparison of loving God’s Word and applying it verses despising it and rejecting it, being a “stupid” believer.
- Then in 2-6, we saw the contrast of blessings for the righteous versus Divine discipline for the wicked believer based on our thoughts, words, and actions.
- Then in 7-8 we saw the contrast of earthly destines of the righteous versus the wicked believer.
Now in vs. 9-14 we begin a new theme that gets back to contrasting principles of righteousness versus wickedness in regard to our conduct in business ventures.
Prov 12:9, “Better is he who is lightly esteemed and has a servant than he who honors himself and lacks bread.”
This is an interesting verse and has been translated in several different ways. For example, Charles Ryrie translates this verse, “Better is a man of humble circumstances who works for himself, than one who plays the big man and has nothing to eat.”
We will look at the Hebrew here, as we do all verses, and determine what the author was intending to say.
Here, the theme of the humble natured servant of God continues in the first half of vs. 9, “Better is he who is lightly esteemed and has a servant.”
“Better” is TOB (tov) for “good.” It is used in this verse as a comparison to the wicked believer. This is the first of the “better than” proverbs in this chapter. We previously have seen three in Prov 3:14; 8:11, 19, (i.e. the Word of God is better than gold, silver, riches). And we will see 19 more in the coming chapters.
“Lightly esteemed” is the passive Niphal Participle Verb QALAH, קָלָה. QALAH means, “the process for roasting grain or to burn” and comes to mean, “to be lightly esteemed, despised, to be of little account or value, to be belittled, or shamed.” It refers to a social view of someone as unimportant or inferior as in Isa 3:5d, “And the inferior against the honorable.” The passive participle means, “one who receives the action of being despised.” So we can say, “is despised.”
Here we have a switch from vs. 8,where the righteous are viewed from the Divine perspective to here in vs. 9, where the righteous are viewed from the world’s perspective, (Satan’s cosmic system). And this is a positive thing for the believer in God’s opinion.
John 15:18-20, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”
So to be “lightly esteemed, despised, or belittled” by the world is a good thing for the believer. Unfortunately, too many believers are chasing after the world’s approbation and/or praising and exalting those who are steeped in cosmic viewpoint and cosmic living, which will be to their shame.
But here the righteous believer who is despised by the world and worldly is better off than the wicked believer who is embraced and/or praised by the world. This is emphasized in the next phrase.
“And has a servant” is the Conjunction WE with the noun EBED (evedh), עֶבֶד that literally says, “and a servant or slave.” It has no verb. The translators of the NASB used “has” but we must keep to the context of the preceding verb which was a passive voice. So rather than ownership of a slave, we translate this “and is a slave.” This functions to emphasize the lowly nature of this individual in society’s viewpoint, but when applying Divine viewpoint, it is an honor to be a servant or slave of God, Rom 6:16-23; 1 Cor 9:19, 27.
1 Cor 9:19, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.”
So we translate this, “It is good (or better) if you are lightly despised and a servant/slave”, meaning you are living for Christ which the cosmic system hates. When we suffer for Christ as servants of God, we will be highly exalted by God and obtain our escrow blessings for time and eternity.
“Than he who honors himself and lacks bread.”
“Who honors himself” is the Verb KABED כָּבֵד, that means, “to weigh heavy, to honor, to glorify, etc.” Here in the Hithpael it is reflexive meaning, he honors or glorifies himself. This is the epitome of arrogance. This is the arrogant boastful individual who goes around telling everyone how great he is and of the things he has done. Whenever he does something good, he does it in such a way that people notice, as he fawns for their praise and applause.
With this is “and lacks bread”, which is CHASER, “to be lacking, or needy, or wanting”, with LECHEM for “food or bread.” Remember this verse is from the Divine viewpoint perspective. And as God is the provider of all of our Logistical Grace blessings, which includes, food, clothing, shelter, and Bible Doctrine. If the believer is lacking in any of these things, it is a good indication that they are in reversionism and rejecting His provisions of these blessings in some form or manner, usually due to the sinful life they are living.
So someone can boast all they want about how good they are, and the good that they do, but if they are lacking or have need of His logistical grace blessings, they are fooling themselves. The reason for lacking these blessing is not because God is not providing them, but the fact that due to your sinful lifestyle, you have rejected God’s provisions of these things in some way or manor.
So in this proverb we see it is better to be ridiculed by the world and have God’s grace pouring out in your life, than to be loved by the world and not have God’s grace in your life.
“To live comfortably without social importance is better than an outward show of affluence to win public praise that conceals poverty, cf. Prov 15:17.” (Waltke, NIC)
Prov 15:17, “Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred.”
“The petty person unwisely spends his sparse resources to keep up a vain show. Some folk pretend competence but in fact are incompetent, and some pretend to be religious but in reality are spiritually bankrupt. The modest person is humble in heart, and the pretentious have perverted hearts (cf. 13:7; Luke 14:11). The pretentious is a slave to human opinion and doomed to shame (cf. 11:2).” (Waltke, NIC)
Prov 12:10, “A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.”
In vs. 10, we have an a-fortiori principle. If you can do the greater, you can certainly do the lesser. The greater here is to be compassionate towards your animals. This is the greater principal. It is much harder to have compassion for a lower being that we are given dominion over, Gen 1:28-30; 2:19-20, than for a fellow member of the human race who we are equals with and have rapport with.
Here the “righteous man”, TSADDIQ, is one who has “regard”, YADAH, for his “animal’s”, BEHEMAH, בְּהֵמָה, (beast, cattle, animal), “life”, NEPHESH, נֶפֶשׁ
“Regard” is the Qal Active Participle of YADAH, יָדַע that means, “to know, to learn, to perceive, to discern, to experience, to confess, to consider, and understand.”
Keil and Delitzsch note, “The explanation: the righteous takes care for the life of his beast, fails, for 10a is to be taken with Ex 23:9; נֶפֶשׁ, NEPHESH, signifies also the state of one’s soul, the frame of mind, the state of feeling; but יָדַע has, as in the related proverb, 27:23, the meaning of careful cognizance or investigation, in conformity with which one acts.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
So it means this righteous / wise man knows what his animals need and how to best care for them. He knows what they require not just physically but mentally too and gives them the necessitated corresponding compassionate care so that they will continue to be healthy and thrive and be productive. Even God the Creator has compassion for animals, Deut 11:15; Psa 36:6b; 104:14, 17; Jonah 4:11, and in His law, He commanded Israel to share his Sabbaths with them, Ex 20:10; 23:11-12; Lev 25:1-7.
Therefore, if the wise can have compassion for their animals, they certainly should be able to have compassion on their fellow man in this life.
“But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.”
“Compassion” is the Noun RECHEM, רֶחֶם that literally means, “womb or compassion.” It reveals the intimacy of care in relationships, as a mother cares for her child. Utilizing RECEHM here for the wicked is sarcastic, showing the hypocrisy of the reversionistic believer’s type of love and compassion.
So we see that for the “wicked”, RASHA, their form of motherly love is one of “cruelty”, AKZARIY, אַכְזָרִי which is an adjective that means, “cruel.” We have noted this word in, Prov 5:9; 11:17, describing the type of people we are to avoid, especially because they are self-destructive. Here we see the type of care giving the wicked believer gives. It is of the type that inflicts pain or suffering because this person is morally unfeeling.
Synonyms for cruel that describe this type of believer include: barbarous, inhuman, sadistic, vicious, pitiless, and ruthless. It means that this person is predisposed to inflict violence, pain, or hardship on others, and they find satisfaction in the suffering of others. They like to harm and are indifferent to the suffering of others.
The attitude and actions of the wicked reveal that they are willing to manipulate and destroy other people in order to gain their own ends. Therefore, it is futile to hope for compassion and understanding from these reversionistic believers.
Waltke quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as having insight honed by the Holocaust, who says that “the bad deeds of a good person are better than the good deeds of the wicked.” (Waltke, NIC)
The principle is: How someone treats their animals reveals how they will treat people. If they treat them well, there is a good chance they will treat other people well too. If they are abusive to their animals, they most likely will be abusive towards other people as well.
Finally, this proverb may also be pointing out the contrasting mental attitude towards and treatment of the teachers of Bible Doctrine, given the context of vs. 1. As the Law gives instruction on caring for one’s ox / beast in Deut 25:4, it is used as an analogy for your care and treatment of your Pastor/Teacher in the New Testament, 1 Cor 9:9-11. The wicked believer could be careless about the needs and provisions of their pastor, including their mental health, where the righteous have great compassion for his overall well-being.
1 Cor 9:9-11, “For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?”
Prov 12:11, “He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.”
This is our fourth verse in a row that begins with the exhortation of the righteous and ends with admonishing the wicked.
“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread.” Continuing with the agricultural theme, this proverb exhorts the righteous believer to do the work at hand. Whereas in vs. 10, the emphasis was on the treatment of others, here it emphasizes the choices we make for ourselves.
“Till his land” is the Qal Active Participle Verb ABAD, (avadh), that means, “to work or serve,” with the noun ADAMAH, אֲדָמָה that means, “soil, dirt, ground, earth, or clay.” So literally they mean, “work the soil.” This proverb assumes that he works his land with the diligence and intelligence of the ant noted in Prov 6:6-8.
“Plenty” is the Qal Imperfect Verb SABA, or SABEA, שָׂבֵע, meaning, “to be satisfied, to be filled, to be full.” It basically means to be satisfied, or to have had enough of something. The something he will be satisfied with is “bread or food”, LECHEM. It means that when you do the work that the Lord has given to you, you will be blessed. And as a play on words, in vs. 11 the hard worker will have plenty of bread/food, but in contrast to vs. 9, the arrogant worker will lack bread/food.
So the principle of vs. 10 & 11 is that those who serve the creation, (their animals), as well as their land are in turn served by those very same things. Jesus is our Creator, yet He came to serve us!
“But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.”
“Pursues” is the Piel Participle of the Verb RADAP, רָדַף that means, “to pursue, to chase, or persecute.” It means to chase after, to pursue someone in a hostile manner. We noted this word in Prov 11:19.
This believer vehemently chases after “worthless things”, which is the Adjective REYQ, רֵיק, used substantively. As an Adjective it means, “empty, worthless, or vain.” It indicates something that has nothing in it; evacuated. As a noun it means things or business ventures that are worthless, empty, and vain. It is like chasing after the wind, which the foolish believer will do.
So in contrast to the honest worker who labors to placate his hunger and sustain his life, stands “the one who pursues fantasies.”
In view are ventures or gambles that do not involve hard work or contribute to the common wealth, and are any get-rich-quick scheme, Prov 21:5-6 or waiting for one’s ship to come in, and not merely idleness.
Prov 21:5-6, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. 6The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.”
This type of believer “lacks sense”, CHASER LEB, meaning they lack in heart, which means they do not have the wisdom or insight of Bible Doctrine stored in the right lobe of their soul. Since there is no doctrine in the heart of their soul, it gets filled with all sorts of cosmic thinking, sin, human good, and evil. The pursuit of sin, human good, and evil is unfruitful to say the least.
So the worker who pursues hasty and vain ventures lacks the insight gained from having Bible doctrine in the right lobe of the soul, just as the arrogant worker who lacks the application of Bible doctrine of vs. 9 will lack bread/food.
It is ok to enjoy things in their proper time and place, but to hotly pursue or chase after them with a lustful desire in the frantic search for happiness, seeking to satisfy some perceived need, is the result of not having Bible Doctrine resident within your soul and being fully satisfied with the things of God.
This verse is very similar to Prov 28:19, “He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.”
It differs only in the last two Hebrew words: “lacks sense” versus “will have poverty in plenty.”
Prov 28:19 contrasts the results of the pursuit of different goals, whereas here in Prov 12:11 by using a different conclusion, points out why they chose different goals in the first place.
The choice of goals reveals the true nature of the heart. The discerning, who are able to determine and pursue proper goals, succeed, yet the empty-hearted, who by their very nature cannot determine and pursue proper goals, fail.
H.A. Ironside writes regarding this passage, “This is a challenging word for young Christians. God’s Word is a field well worth cultivating. The apostle urged, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Those who obey this injunction are invariably repaid for every hour earnestly devoted to the consideration of this precious field. Many waste much time in idle folly, keeping company with empty, frivolous, worldly people, neglecting their Bibles to the serious detriment of their spiritual life. They often wonder how other Christians can discover so much that is new and edifying in the Scriptures. They see no such lovely lessons and helpful suggestions, because they do not really work the land. If they did, they too would be satisfied with the bread of God’s Word.”
He goes on to say, “The loss by those who do not study the Scriptures is incalculable, both here and in eternity. This neglect of the Bible is the root of much backsliding, coldness of heart, and departure from God. The believer must make it a daily practice to dig into the Book for himself. When he seeks to walk in the truth learned by the Spirit’s power, he will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the things of God. Timothy is a fine pattern for all young saints on this point (2 Timothy 3:14-17). The ungodly Jehoiakim is a warning beacon for all in danger of taking the opposite course (Jeremiah 36:22-32)”. (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary -Proverbs.)
Prov 12:12, “The wicked man desires the booty of evil men, but the root of the righteous yields fruit.”
This proverb now escalates being sensible about economic gain through viable work as noted in vs. 10-11a, not through foolish ventures, vs. 11b, to contrasting business gains by evil activities with righteous ones.
Vs. 12 begins with the wicked person’s behaviors and continues the last theme of vs. 11 in regard to seeking after vain things.
Here the “wicked”, RASHA, believer “desires”, which is the Qal Perfect of the Verb CHAMAD, חָמַד that means, “to desire, covet, or take pleasure in.” The thing these reversionistic believers covet is the “booty” MATSOD, “of evil men”, RA.
“Booty” is Noun MATSOD, מָצוֹד that means, “net.” It is derived from TSUD that means “to hunt”, and therefore MATSOD refers to a hunting implement, usually translated “net or snare” and sometimes used for “a siege tower.” Here it is speaking of the net the wicked person throws to capture that which is evil, referring to the vain pursuits of vs. 11. In contrast to the righteous believer who is trying to yield Divine good in his business ventures, the evil man is pursuing the lusts of his flesh utilizing tactics and schemes that are evil, sinful, full of human good, and in line with the normal workings of Satan’s cosmic system, which are all “evil” in God’s eyes.
“But the root of the righteous yields fruit.”
The basic contrast of this verse lies between “desires” and “yields” or “coveting” and “producing.”
I want to begin with the last part of this phrase, “the righteous”, TSADIQQ, “yields fruit”, NATHAN. Notice that “fruit” is in italics, which means it is added for context, and “yield” is the (active) QAL, (future) Imperfect of the Verb NATHAN that means, “to give, put, place, make, etc.” It is the fifth most frequent word in the Hebrew Bible, and occurs 2016 times. The most common usage is with the primary meaning of “to give” something to someone. “To make” is also popular. “Yield” has to do with producing something. In regard to the righteous business man, he desires to give back to others as a result of his business dealings, that is, to yield a benefit for them. In other words, it is not just all about him and what he can get out of the deal. He is fair and balanced in his transactions, operating in righteousness and justice.
Now for the word “root.” As you know, we noted “root”, SHORESH, שֹׁרֶשׁ in vs. 3, where it spoke of a solid or firm foundation for generations to come, speaking of offspring and future generations and blessings by association. Well the same goes for this verse as well. It tells us that the righteous man has a firm and solid foundation in that he stands and relies on God’s Word in all his business transactions. Likewise, based on his firm foundation, his offspring will take after him, and they too will operate in business transactions with honesty and integrity, righteousness, and justice, based on applying God’s Word from their soul. They will also have an eye out for the needs of others and benefit them as they can in their business transactions. They will have a heart for giving.
Therefore, wicked men lust after that which they may “net” for themselves utilizing evil schemes and tactics, while righteous men desire to yield the fruit of the Spirit that benefits others. They function with the application of Bible doctrine from the right lobe of their soul.
“The wicked are concerned only with gaining their own desires, by any means, including the tools of sin. Wickedness is thus a negative or parasitic force that cannot produce anything of itself, whereas righteousness, like a plant, naturally produces what is good (implied by the contrast). It is therefore foolish to expect the wicked to produce good results, so that both may be known by their fruit.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary.)
Vs. 13 & 14 conclude the first section of Chapter 12 by reminding us of the contrast of words and deeds between the righteous and wicked and their consequences. At the same time, they act as a link to the second section of Chapter 12 with words like lips and hands as the theme of contrasting words and actions continues.
Prov 12:13, “An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape from trouble.”
“An evil man” is the noun RA, for “evil or bad.”
“Ensnared” is the Noun MOQESH, מוֹקֵשׁ that means, “bait, lure, trap, or snare.” It has the connotation of getting caught by your own words, when you gossip, malign, slander, and lie.
“The metaphor depicts lethal speech to take a victim by surprise and to destroy him before he can deliver himself.” (Waltke, NIC)
This reversionistic believer is ensnared by, “the transgression of his lips,” BE PESHA SAPHAH, which means he is ensnared by his verbal sins / sins of the tongue.
The noun PESHA means, “transgression, break away, rebellion, offense, or trespass.” Typically, it is translated as transgression or sin. With the greater meaning of this word, we have here the revolt of the soul when the sin nature and emotions take over the soul. This revolt of the soul leads to all kinds of verbal sins, which ultimately come back to bite the reversionist. The verbal sins of evildoers become their own snares, and the schemer is caught by his own schemes.
This indicates the detrimental effect of allowing our sin nature to rule our soul, resulting in verbal sins. The thoughts of temptation to sin are a trap lying in wait to spring upon us, and when we step into the trap via verbal sins, the snare is released and we are caught in the words that we have said, which will come back to negatively affect us either in consequences or Divine discipline.
Prov 18:7, “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”
The sins of the tongue carry liability for Triple Compound Divine Discipline. Mat 7:1, “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged.”
- Believers are ordered by God to stop slandering, maligning, or judging others.
- The sins of the tongue involve two categories of sinfulness related to Christian degeneracy: mental attitude sins which motivate the verbal sinning; and the actual verbal sins which result. No one ever slanders, maligns, judges, or gossips about another without the motivation of some mental attitude sin.
- Verbal sins are motivated by an oscillation between self-righteous arrogance and self-pity in emotion.
- Verbal sins involve verbal murder, which is character assassination of others, plus the blasphemy of assuming the prerogative of God in judging others.
- Mat 7:1 is the first of two laws found in Mat 7:1-2. This is the law of reversal of Divine punitive action. The sins of the tongue carry three categories of liability for punitive action from God.
- Divine discipline for the mental attitudes that motivate sins of the tongue.
- Divine discipline for the verbal sin itself.
- Divine discipline for the sins of others that you mention.
You name certain sins real or imagined which you assign to another believer. The sins you name have penalties attached to them. If the person is guilty, his discipline is removed, because the judgment did not come from heaven, and the punishment is transferred to the one who maligns. If the sins are imagined, then the victim gets blessing comparable to the intensity of the discipline, as long as he puts the matter in the Lord’s hands and does not attempt to vindicate himself.
The victim of your slander does not receive these penalties, but you do. You are mentioning sins which you did not commit, but you assign them to your victim by slandering them. You get the punishment for the mental attitude sins which motivated the verbal sins, and for the sins which you named. While not committing those sins, you get judged for those sins as if you had committed them. This is the perfect justice of God in which He reminds you to mind your own business and live your own life as unto the Lord.
Mat 7:2, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”
Prov 29:6, “By transgression an evil man is ensnared, but the righteous sings and rejoices.”
That leads us to the second half of vs. 13!
The Contrast! The Exhortation!
“But the righteous will escape from trouble.”
This tells us that by means of the application of Bible Doctrine in our soul, the righteous (TSADDIQ) are able to avoid the snares of verbal sin, Prov 13:14, 14:27; 29:25, and therefore Divine discipline.
This avoidance is noted in the phrase “escape from trouble” which is the Qal Imperfect of the Verb YATSA, יָצָא that means, “to go out,” and is used to mean, “to escape free, leave, or go away”, along with the Preposition MIN for “away or out from”, and the Noun TSARAH, צָרָה that means, “distress or affliction”, and is many times translated as “adversity or trouble.” Cf. Prov 1:27; 11:8.
“Fools, who speak wickedly, arrogantly and without concern for the consequences of their words, entrap themselves, since their words, however clever, will eventually reveal their true nature. Because the righteous, on the other hand, weigh their words before speaking, and are careful to say what is true, good, and helpful, they need not fear being ensnared by them (12:6; 21:23).” (Complete Biblical Library)
Prov 12:14, “A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.”
Continuing with the righteous, vs. 14 begins with another exhortation.
“A man will be satisfied” is the Qal Imperfect of the Verb SABA or SABEA, שָׂבֵע that means, “satisfied, satiated, to be filled, or full.” We noted this word in vs. 11, where the one who “tills his land will be satiated with bread” that refers to digging into the Word of God and being filled with the mind of Christ.
Now here, being made full is the result of Divine “good”, TOB (tov), that comes with speaking righteously, i.e., the “fruit”, PERIY, “of his words”, PEH ISH that literally means, “the good fruit from the mouth of a man.”
In vs. 11, we noted the righteous man has inner peace, happiness, and contentment, as a result of learning Bible Doctrine and having it stored in the right lobe of his soul. Now in vs. 14, the righteous man will have inner peace, happiness, and contentment, as a result of applying the Word of God in his speech.
Therefore, learning and applying Bible Doctrine results in a life of experiential fulfillment having inner peace, happiness, and contentment in your soul; the +H of God.
Prov 18:20, “With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; he will be satisfied with the product of his lips.”
“Like the tree’s choice produce, one’s good teachings, peacemaking guidance, godly exhortations, and comforting encouragement reveal his basic character, are produced effortlessly, and sustain the life of the community (cf. Prov 10:20, 21).” (Waltke, NIC)
The second half of vs. 14 is linked to the first half and is primarily referring to the righteous believer, but it is also a double-entendre, because it can be applied to the wicked believer as well: “The deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.”
“Deeds” is the Noun GEMUL גְּמוּל that means, “a dealing, recompense, benefit, or reward.” Derived from the noun GAMAL that means, “to reward”, GEMUL conveys the sense of getting what one deserves, both in the sense of reward and retribution. It is translated “deed” to indicate the means by which one is recompensed, and to complement the next phrase, “a man’s hands,” which is ADAM YAD. In addition, GEMUL is translated “deeds” because recompense is noted in the last phrase “will return to him,” which is the Qal Imperfect of SHUB (shuv), שׁוּב that means, “return or to turn back” with the Preposition LE having a masculine Pronominal Prefix for “to him.”
Therefore, it affirms the doctrinal teaching that deeds and their consequences are inseparable. What a man does with his hands indicates for us overt actions that can produce either Divine good for the righteous or the third category of sins, “overt sins” for the wicked. In both cases, what a man produces, “returns to him.” If a believer produces righteousness with his overt actions, he will be blessed and rewarded by God in both time and eternity. If a believer produces overt sins and evil, he will suffer the consequences of his actions in time via the reap what you sow principle, and God’s Divine discipline, as well as loss of rewards in the eternal state.
Prov 13:2, “From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good, but the desire of the treacherous is violence.”
Gal 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Our Lord stated in Mat 12:33-37, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
“If the mouth of a man brings forth fruit—namely, the fruit of wholesome doctrine, of right guidance, of comforting exhortation, of peace-bringing consolation for others—this fruit is also to his own advantage, he richly enjoys the good which flows out of his own mouth, the blessing he bestows is also a blessing for himself. The same also is the case with the actions of a man. That which is done, or the service which is rendered by his hands, comes back to him as a reward or as a punishment.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament.)
We begin Section 2 of Chapter 12 that mirrors Section 1.
The first thing to note is the word “way”, which is the Hebrew word DEREK, is used to frame this section being used in vs. 15 for “the way of the fool”, and vs. 28 for “the way of the righteous.”
- Vs. 15, like vs. 1, gives us our context, contrasting the fool and the wise, i.e., the wicked and the righteous.
- Vs. 22 gives us the theological foundation for this section.
- Vs. 16-23 once again contrasts the use of the tongue between the wicked and the righteous.
- Vs. 24-27 once again contrasts the deeds or actions between the wicked and the righteous.
- Vs. 28 then concludes with general principles regarding the righteous.
We begin with vs. 15.
Prov 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”
In this verse “wise” and “fool” are defined in terms of their acceptance or rejection of authoritative counsel, which counsel is Bible Doctrine either from the book that is now in their soul or from the doctrinal counsel of mature believer(s).
We begin with The Negative!
“The way”, DEREK, “of the fool”, EWIYL (ev-eel), “is right”, YASHAR, יָשָׁר that means, “straight, just, right, level, reliable, etc.”, and “in his own eyes” is BE AYIN.
This is the person who thinks they have it all down. They are doing everything right and are certainly not out of line in their thoughts, words, or actions. In all of their actions and transactions, they think they are without blame and are faultless. And if they do say or do anything that might be construed as wrong, bad, or evil, they self-justify their words or actions.
As Paul noted in 2 Cor 10:12, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding (foolish).”
Prov 16:2, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives.”
Prov 16:25, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
Prov 21:2, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts.”
This type of arrogance in a believer is in fact seen by God as doing evil cf. Judges 2:11; 3:7; 4:11; 17:6; 21:5, and in fact, this know-it-all individualist, who does it his own way, is living in a fool’s paradise, but no one can tell him that.
“A wise man is he who listens to counsel.”
“A wise man”, CHAKAM, חָכָם, “listens”, SHAMAR, שָׁמַע, “to counsel”, LE plus ESAH, עֵצָה, that means, “advice or counsel.” We noted this word in Prov 8:14 as “wisdom”, i.e., Bible Doctrine which is given the attributes of having counsel, along with sound wisdom, understanding, and power.
So in our verse, the thing the wise man listens to is Bible Doctrine / God’s Word. This “listening” is more than just hearing. It is the inculcation of Bible Doctrine, where it is then applied. So to listen to counsel means he does what it says. In other words, the wise man applies the doctrine he has learned.
Conversely, the fool does not listen to advice. He does not learn and apply Bible Doctrine. Instead he goes about life picking up the garbage of Satan’s cosmic system and operates solely by his sin nature, feelings, and emotions; yet he thinks he is correct in all that he does.
Therefore, we are exhorted here and in Prov 3:5 to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding”, by learning and apply God’s Word. And as Proverbs tells us, it has tremendous benefits for our lives.
Prov 19:20, “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days.”
Here we also understand that the wise person does not establish his being righteous (experientially sanctified) by his own opinion of himself. He recognizes his need of counsel and not only receives it but searches out for it.
The arrogant fool, on the other hand, is convinced that he has no need of correction, Prov 14:12; 16:25; 16:2; 21:2, and therefore refuses to listen, Prov 26:5, 12, 16; 28:11a, to sound Bible teaching and instruction.
Finally, although this verse does not pertain directly to speech, it is foundational to it and introduces the right and wrong applications of our speech in vs. 16-23. And as we will see, if one is wise, HAKAM through listening to counsel, vs. 15, he has the tongue of “wise people”, HAKAMIM, which brings “healing” in vs. 18.
Prov 12:16, “A fool’s vexation (anger) is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor.”
Now, beginning in vs. 16, we see the results of the fool not learning and applying God’s Word. The result is the “fool’s”, EWIYL, emotions control his soul and his “anger”, KAAS, כַּעַס.
KAAS means, “anger, provocation, vexation, or grief.” It means to get excited, to be upset, or to be incensed about something. Here we see the emotions of a man getting the better of him. This is the person who has what we call “a short fuse”, meaning he gets angry very easily and very quickly.
As this proverb says, his anger “is known at once”, which is the passive Niphal future Imperfect of the verb YADAH for “to know” with the metaphor BE YOM for “in the day.” It connotes public disclosure. So this person is consistently known for his quick temper.
“The fool’s gestures and speech communicate his intolerant and uneducable attitude. He gives himself away by outbursts of anger (cf. 29:11), readiness to pick a quarrel, and desire to come to blows (cf. 20:3).” (Waltke, NIC.)
Prov 29:11, “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.”
The perennially angry person is therefore a danger to himself as God’s Word regards this inner mood of irritation as a dangerous emotion in that it kills the fool, Job 5:2, and must be restrained.
Job 5:2, “For anger slays the foolish man, and jealousy kills the simple.”
Likewise, this person is a dangerous companion, Prov 22:24f, because ultimately he is a fool.
“If a man does not control his temper, it is a sad admission that he is not in control of his thoughts. He then becomes a victim of his own passions and emotions, which lead him to actions that are totally unfit for civilized behavior, let alone behavior for a priesthood holder.” – President Ezra Taft Benson
“He who harbors hatred and bitterness injures himself far more than the one towards whom he manifests these evil propensities.” – David O. McKay
“Anger itself does more harm than the condition which aroused anger.” – David O. McKay
“For every sixty seconds of anger, you lose one minute of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Waltke notes, “According to Rabbi Ileaj (third or fourth cent. A.D.), one recognizes a person from his cup (kôs), his purse (kîs), and his annoyance (ka-as) (T. B. Erubin 65b; i.e., how he comports himself while drinking, while dealing with money, and in an attitude of inner excitation).” (New International Commentary)
“Instead of ruling his spirit and controlling his environment, his hot temper rules him, works social havoc, and brings him shame (cf. 14:17, 2; 25:28).” (McKane, Proverbs)
“Whenever you get red in the face, whenever you raise your voice, whenever you get ‘hot under the collar’, or angry, rebellious, or negative in spirit, then know that the spirit of God is leaving you and the spirit of Satan is beginning to take over.” – Theodore M. Burton
“A prudent man conceals dishonor.”
“Prudent man” is ARUM עָרוּם, meaning, “clever, prudent, crafty, or shrewd.”
We will see this prudent man again in vs. 23, where he “conceals knowledge”, which means he does not talk about people behind their backs. Then in Prov 13:16, “Every prudent man acts out of knowledge”, and in Prov 22:3 where, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge.”
In our verse, the prudent man “conceals” KASAH, כָּסָה, “to cover or conceal”, “dishonor,” which is QALON, קָלוֹן that means, “shame or dishonor.” The root QALAL indicates the lowering of a person’s social status. So it means to gossip, malign, or slander someone, which is to commit character assassination. This is what the prudent man does not do.
Psa 32:1, is the only other occurrence of KASAH in the Qal stem where it is used metaphorically of covering sin to signify forgiveness.
“So the wise realize that offense may be more often taken than intended and that there is little profit in mentioning them, especially if the offense was intentional, and have disciplined themselves to ignore the slights, snubs, and insults of life in a fallen world.” (Fredric Clarke Putnam, Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
So we see that the fool is always ready to “blow his top” when the slightest little thing happens to him or around him, and in revenge motivation, he begins to malign, gossip, slander, and lie about others. Yet, the prudent man is “slow to anger”, as he keeps calm, cool and collected, is not motivated by his sin nature to get revenge, and therefore holds back his tongue.
“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” -Thomas Jefferson
Kelly, Burton C. noted, “Most people usually do not assume responsibility for their anger. Instead, what we typically hear is, “You made me angry.” “They made me upset,” etc. I trust it is evident that these types of statements are not true. No one else can “make” you angry. We have to make ourselves angry. What others say and do is, yes, a part of the equation, but without our contribution to the equation, anger cannot arise nor exist. This can be a very threatening conception of anger, and yet it is also very freeing, for as long as we do determine our own emotional responses, we are free to change and to control them. If other people or events were, in fact, responsible for our emotional responses, then we would not have the freedom nor ability to change them, unless we could control other people and events, which is much more challenging and usually impossible. Thus, principle 1 in the case against anger is, we are ultimately responsible for our own anger.”
Prov 17:27, “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”
Prov 19:11, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”
“He who angers you, conquers you.” – Elizabeth Kenny
Self-control “is indeed a victory more honorable than martial triumph (Chap. 16:32; 19:11; 20:3), not only subduing our own spirit, but melting the hardness of our adversary (Rom. 12:18-21)” (Bridges, Proverbs)
Let me leave you with this short story:
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence….
Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper….
The day passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone….
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.
Here we will move on from the restraining negative emotions in vs. 16, to a positive portrayal of the character that responds truthfully even under duress. Vs. 17 pertains to speech that intentionally pursues righteousness or misleads from righteousness, and vs. 18 to speech that intentionally and sometimes unintentionally causes harm to others. And finally we will note vs. 19 that pertains to the consequences of our speech.
Prov 12:17, “He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit.”
This verse is similar to Prov 14:5, “A trustworthy witness will not lie, but a false witness utters lies.” The words here refer to use within a court room, yet it has overall principles for our everyday life.
“Viewed superficially, the proverb appears tautological (repeating meaning in different words); it is not so, however, but places in causal connection the internal character of men and their utterances.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament.) Brackets mine.
So these verses are revealing what is truly in the heart of a man, which is demonstrated through his words, and as we will see, his actions that reveal the true character of these believers.
“Speaks” is the causative active Hiphal and the incomplete Imperfect of the verb PUACH, which means, “to breath or blow.” It is an idiom for speaking. It was used this way for the false witness of Prov 6:9. Here it means that due to the wise man listening to and applying “counsel”, i.e., Bible Doctrine, they are caused to speak in this way.
“Truth” is the Noun EMUNAH, אֱמוָּנה that means, “steadiness, faithfulness, or truth.” Being an attribute of God, it is used to describe God’s character and His actions in Deut 32:4. Here it describes His Word, as Bible Doctrine is absolute truth. It is also used with righteousness to describe the character of this believer here and in Isa 59:4; Jer 5:1. So the wise righteous believer is caused to speak the truth, which is what God’s Word is.
And when they do, they “tell what is right.” “Tell” is the causative Hiphil Imperfect of NAGAD, נָגַד that means, “to be conspicuous, to tell, to report, to make known, or to explain.”
“What is right” which is the noun TSEDEQ, that means, “righteousness.” It means a right relation to an ethical or legal standard. In other words, these believers are making the righteousness of God, His Word well known to others. They are a witness for Christ with their words and deeds.
“But a false witness, deceit.”
“False” is the noun SHEQER, שֶׁקֶר that means, “to lie or deception”, which we noted in Prov 6:17, 19; 10:18; 11:18. As Waltke notes, “Klopfenstein says correctly concerning šheqer: ‘Therefore, the character of falseness or sincerity always affects the whole person.’ Thus, this terminology has to do with more than merely false or true words.”
“Witness” is the noun ED, עֵד that means, “witness or testimony.” So this is someone who is lying about what they have seen or heard, or about the situation in general. They are teaching others the opposite of what God’s Word has to say about living your life, as witnessed by their words and actions.
As you know, a witness is someone who has firsthand knowledge of an event or one who can testify on the basis of a report which he has heard, Lev 5:1. Such people are under obligation to testify about what they know. Therefore, here we see the believer who knows the gospel and God’s Word and, as a royal ambassador, is under obligation to share what they know about Christ and His Word, yet this wicked believer does not, and their words and life’s witness tells a different story.
In fact, this person’s witness is nothing but “deceit”, MIRMAH, מִרְמָה that means, “deceit or treachery”, which we noted in Prov 11:1 regarding a false balance and Prov 12:5 describing the counsel of the wicked. It is metonymy for words that aim to mislead the judge and to frustrate justice by declaring the righteous guilty and the guilty innocent. Therefore, it means telling the opposite of what one truly knows. And that is the sad commentary of many believers today. They have personal salvation but their life tells a very different story to God and others.
The worth of a witness’ verbal testimony is directly related to his character; the testimony of his life. Therefore, if the testimony of his life demonstrates wickedness from cosmic living, his verbal testimony will be viewed the same, and he will be disqualified as a witness in the eyes of others.
The righteous person declares the truth in his words and actions, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and so strengthens the community, especially by bringing the gospel to life. Yet, an unreliable person aims to mislead and damage others with their testimony and thereby clouds, shades, or hides the truth. Remember that in a court of law, the witness’ testimony is vital because it is a matter of life or death. And with your witness, you will either bring eternal life to others or allow them to remain in their eternal death.
Prov 12:18, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Now moving from the witnessing of the righteous versus the wicked, this proverb begins by continuing with the speech of the wicked by demonstrating the mortal wounds that their words and actions cause.
“The proverb promotes thoughtful speech by explicitly comparing the spiritual damage done by the thoughtless “tongue” to the physical damage done by the lethal sword and by contrasting it with one that heals.” (Waltke, New International Commentary)
“There is one who speaks rashly” is the Substantive YESH, יֵשׁ that means, “there is or there exists” and the Qal Active Participle of BATAH, בָּטָה that means, “to speak thoughtlessly or rashly.”
“Like the thrust” is the Preposition KE with the Noun MADQERAH, מַדְקֵרָה, which is only used here in the Old Testament. It is from DAQAR that means, “to pierce” and means, to “thrust, pierce, or stab.” It describes harmful and merciless words that are like sword thrusts to those receiving them.
The thing thrust is “a sword”, CHEREV, חֶרֶב that means, “sword or knife”, the battle instrument designed and used for killing, symbolizes intentional, insensitive slaughter.
The Contrast! The Exhortation!
“But the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
“The tongue of the wise” is a genitive construct, LASHON CHAKAM, and “brings healing” is the noun MARPE, מַרְפֵּא, that mean, “health, healing, or remedy.” This is the one who is speaking the truth of God’s word and sharing it with others. It brings healing to their souls.
“The metaphor connotes their reconciliation of harmful conflicts (cf. v. 20), and the sequence of thoughts connotes that their speech soothes the hurt inflicted by damaging speech and cures its fatal wounds (cf. vv. 6, 25).” (Waltke, New International Commentary)
So in our contrast, the words of the wicked bring a death blow to its hearers, yet the words of the righteous bring healing to them. In the court of law, your false witness will harm the innocent and render them guilty, whereas your true words and witness will set the falsely accused free. Therefore, our spiritual application of this verse tells us that when we use our words for evil and wickedness, it hinders others coming to know Christ and His Word, which can result in them never coming to salvation and their suffering eternal spiritual death. On the other hand, the words of the righteous believer lead others to salvation and healing of their soul, bringing them eternal life.
“Not understanding the power of words (cf. 18:21), and therefore not valuing them highly enough, fools often injure those around them. Careless speech can be no less damaging than premeditated gossip, slander or lies (cf. 26:20-28; 29:5). Properly used, words delight, heal, and restore (16:24), but this requires knowing how to say the right thing at the right time (25:11f).” (Fredric Clarke Putnam, Complete Biblical Library Commentary, Proverbs.)
Therefore, our words can either cause mental or spiritual pain and suffering to others, or they can bring life and soothing healing to them. When we do not have God’s Word in our soul, we will be unable to impart its healing power and will instead cause pain and suffering with our words. On the other hand, when we have God’s Word resident within our soul and speak it, we will bring healing to the unregenerated and/or anguished soul.
Prov 12:19, “Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment.”
We conclude with the warning.
We begin this proverb with the positive. “Truthful lips” is the compound Hebrew word SEPTA-EMET which is formed from SAPHAH that means, “lip or edge” and EMETH that means, “truth, faithfulness, reliability, firmness.” This is the righteous person who tells the truth in a court of law, and identifies the one who consistently speaks or applies God’s Word to life’s situations.
“Will be established” is the passive Niphal Imperfect of KUN that means, “to prepare or establish.” “Forever” is LE AD meaning, “to or towards” and “ever or forever.” This is a blessing for the righteous believer. They will receive the action of being established by God for all of eternity. In other words, they will stand firm in their daily walk here on earth and certainly in the eternal state.
“A lying tongue is only for a moment.”
“Lying” is noun SHEQER once again, and “tongue” is LASHON.
“Is only for a moment” is an interesting idiom. In the Hebrew it is the compound word AD-AGRIA. AD, עַד is a preposition that means, “unto, until, during, etc.” AGRIA is the causative active Hiphil and Jussive of desire of the verb RAGA, רָגַע that means in the HIPHAL stem, “to be at rest or to stay quiet.” So “until they are caused to rest” carries the notion of the Sin Unto Death, and speaks of their life here on earth as only momentary compared to the eons of eternity.
Keil and Delitsch translate this “a wink of the eye.” Or as we would say as an idiom, they are “a flash in the pan”, or something like its parallel “a drop in the bucket.”
This Hebrew pun, (LE AD – “established forever” and AD AGRIA – “for a moment”), focuses the contrast between durability, “forever”, and transience, “for a moment”. It tells us that liars are safe until they are caught, which is inevitable, since lies eventually break down, yet those who tell the truth, on the other hand, have built on what is firm and secure.
“The liar does not plan for his deception to be exposed, but it will happen because lies are hard to cover up. In fact, the covering process is usually what exposes the lie. Lies are told to cover lies and after a while we forget what lies we have said and our story changes. Whala! The deception is exposed. Such is the nature of all sin. We are convinced we will get away with our actions, but in reality, we are discovered.” (Mattoon’s Treasures from Proverbs, Volume 1.)
The context here speaks to the blessing of walking in righteousness and speaking the truth, which has no negative consequences, giving you endurance to go forward in God’s plan for your life, compared to the negative consequences of getting away with the sins of the tongue only for a short period of time before they come back to haunt you and you have to pay the piper.
“Honest speech reveals integrity of heart; falsity reveals deceit of the heart. The one who does not hesitate at deliberate lying scatters pain and sorrow everywhere. His poisoned words pierce the hearts of gentle souls like a sword. The tongue of the wise is beneficial and uplifting to these sensitive ones. But the day of reckoning is coming, when truthful lips will be established forever and lying tongues go into oblivion.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary– Proverbs.)
Our next four verses are framed by the word LEB, “heart”, used to indicate the seat of evil found in the soul of the wicked believer or unbeliever that leads to the outward expressions of evil from their souls, as it is linked to the words “deceit” and “folly” respectfully.
Prov 12:20, “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy.”
This verse begins with the negative, and tells us where the wicked person’s “deceitful” words (MIRMAH) emanate from, the “heart”, LEB. So from the heart of the wicked they “devise”, CHARASH, “evil”, RA.
Notice that the sin nature is not in view here. Even though evil and sinful temptations come from our Old Sin Nature, it is the heart, the right lobe of our soul that truly leads us to sin. That is because the sin nature only generates temptations, but man’s heart is where he stores and retains various types of knowledge that he uses to make decisions. If his heart is filled with evil and sinful knowledge, it will lead him to sin, but if his heart is filled with God’s Word and righteousness, it will lead him to make decisions that are righteous. So what we fill our heart with is vital!
Then we have CHARASH, חָרַשׁ that means, “to cut in, engrave, plow, or devise” and is used in a metaphorical sense, “to prepare or devise.” We noted CHARASH being used of the wicked / evil person who “devises” evil plans in Prov 3:29; 6:14, 18. In Prov 6:18, it is one of the Seven Abominable Sins, hated by the Lord.
The use of CHARASH here tells us that this deceit and evil is etched on the heart of the wicked believer or unbeliever. It is part of who they are and leads them in how they think and act on a consistent basis. Rather than having the truth, righteousness, and justice of Bible Doctrine written on the heart of their soul, they have sin, evil, and human good, which we also call scare tissue of the soul.
So for the wicked, they speak the same things that is in their soul; evil and deceit. Their plans are morally reprehensible because they aim to hurt innocent people as noted in Prov 1:16.
Prov 1:16, “For their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood.”
While the fool of vs. 18 uses impulsive and thoughtless speech, these deceivers skillfully execute their cold and calculated plans, cf. Prov 6:14; 12:5; 24:8, based on the evil etched on the heart of their soul.
In comparison to the joy the counselors of peace experience due to having righteousness in the heart of their soul in the next phrase, it suggests that the wicked experience what they aim to do to others; deceit and evil perpetrated back to them.
“But counselors of peace have joy.”
Here we have the positive side of the righteous believer’s soul, in that they do have God’s Word written on the heart of their soul, Prov 3:3, 7; Jer 31:33; Heb 10:16, and are therefore “counselors” to others.
“Counselors” is the Qal Active Participle of YA’ATS, יָעַץ that means, “to advise, counsel, or plan.” It is somewhat of a technical term for those with authority to advise a plan of action in Solomon’s day, and stands for the spiritually mature Royal Ambassador of the Church Age.
The type of counseling the righteous believer gives from the doctrine in their soul is that of “peace”, SHALOM, שָׁלוֹם that means, “completeness, soundness, peace, welfare, or safety.” It is the opposite of RA, “evil” here and also in Jer 29:11.
Jer 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare (SHALOM) and not for calamity (RA’AH, also evil) to give you a future and a hope.”
Peace is also another way of saying to reconcile two parties without any malice to hurt others. You see, the Royal Ambassador for Christ brings the message that Christ brought to mankind, which is one of peace between God and man, Luke 1:79; 2:14; John 14:27; 16:33; Rom 5:1.
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Rom 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This peace is first obtained at the moment of salvation and then realized in the believer’s soul, when you have His Word resident within your soul that you faith-rest in daily. Then from the peace within your soul, versus the deceit of the wicked, you will share God’s Word with others, which in turn also brings peace to them. Therefore, those who are sincerely concerned for the welfare of others give them advice in the form of Bible doctrinal principles that leads to their good, happiness, and joy. At the same time, it has an effect on the one witnessing, in that the counselor rejoices to see others blessed.
So the result of this peace giving is that your soul, and those which you positively affect, will have, “joy” which is the Hebrew noun SIMCHAH, שִׂמְחָה that means, “joy, gladness, or mirth.” Mirth means happy laughter. So there is not only an inward effect of having Bible Doctrine in your soul with the resultant +H of God, but an outward one too as you apply it in witnessing to others, in that we will outwardly express the joy that is in our souls. So as a result of the wise seeking the good and joy of others, they too will obtain the same for themselves.
“Some men have evil ambitions against their neighbors, but other men only desire their health and peace. While the one uses deceit to corrupt, steal, or hurt, the other uses truth to heal and strengthen. Those who promote peace with that which is good have joy. We are unable to have peace with everything. We cannot have peace with Satan, sin, temptation, wickedness, injustice, etc. Counsel that promotes peace which glorifies God and is pleasing to the Lord, brings pleasure or joy.” (Mattoon’s Treasures from Proverbs, Volume 1.)
Linked poetically with vs. 20, this verse gives application to the two kinds of counselors.
Prov 12:21, “No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.”
“No” is the Negative Participle LO. With this in the Hebrew is the verb translated “befalls”, which is the intensive passive Pual, future Imperfect of the Verb ANAH, אָָנה that means, “mourn or happen.” So it reads, “absolutely will not happen.” What will not happen?
“Harm”, the Adjective KOL, that means, “every, all, total, any, etc.” with the Noun AWEN, אָוֶן that means, “trouble, sorrow, wickedness, idolatry, iniquity, evil, etc.” It signifies evil as ethical wickedness.
“Although it may be used of any misfortune in general, AWEN denotes especially such sorrow as is the harvest and product of sin, Prov 22:8; Job 4:8; Isa 59:4, or such as brings after it punishment, Hab 3:7; Jer 4:15.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament – Volume 6.)
With the negative LO above we could say, “any trouble, or evil, or harm.” So far we have, “will absolutely not happen any trouble.”
Then we have the subject of this phrase, “the righteous”, which is LE TSEDDIQ. So we can translate this, “Absolutely no trouble will happen to the righteous.”
This tells us of the consequence for the righteous believer who does not use their tongue for sin and evil. As a result of walking in righteousness and not sinning verbally, they have no troubles. This does not mean they will never have any trouble at all in their life. They still reside in Satan’s cosmic system. But it indicates that they will not cause trouble for themselves by committing verbal sins. They will not reap evil because they did not sow evil, so they will not come under Divine discipline or triple compound Divine discipline, as note in the previous verses.
Sparing themselves of self-induced misery, the righteous will continue to walk in the joy, +H, of God.
“But the wicked are filled with trouble.”
“But the wicked” is the conjunction WA using the Shureq “U”, plus the noun RASHA for “evil doer or wickedness.”
“Are filled” is the active Qal future Imperfect of MALE, מָלֵא that means, “to fill, to be full, to be complete, to fulfill, etc.” We could translate this “will be filled.” which is a metaphor for “in the heart” as in vs. 20a.
“With Trouble” is not AWEN here, but the Adjective RA, for simple “bad or evil.” So we have, “But the evil doer will be filled with evil.” This means that due to their heart being filled with evil, their speech and actions will be filled with evil, and as a result, they will experience self-induced misery and Divine discipline.
In summary, these two comparisons of vs. 20 & 21 represent the inner disposition of counselors: the wicked are deceitful, vs. 20a, and thus full of evil, vs. 21b, yet the righteous are full of joy, vs. 20b; and they will cause no evil to happen to themselves, vs. 21a. The wicked will reap what they sow; wickedness. The righteous will not reap the same wickedness, because they did not sow it in the first place, instead they will have joy, +H.
Prov 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.”
“Lying Lips” is SHEQER SHAPHAH respectfully, which we have previously noted.
“Abomination” is the noun TO’EBAH, תּוֹעֵבָה, (to-ay-baw) that means, “a disgusting thing, abomination, or abominable.” This is the sixth time we have seen this word in Proverbs, cf. Prov 3:32; 6:16; 8:7; 11:1, 20. And thus far, we have noted that the following are an abomination to the Lord: Perverseness, wickedness, a false balance, a perverse heart, and the seven abominations to the Lord in Prov 6:17-18 that includes: “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.”
With that list in mind, here we have a reemphasis of the lying tongue/lips that are an abomination “to the Lord”, YHVH, יְהָוה. It tells us that liars are repulsive to His nature. Later we will see that fraudulent worship is also an abomination to the Lord in Prov 15:8f; 21:27; 28:9.
“But those who deal faithfully are His delight.”
“But those who deal” is the Conjunction WAW for, “but”, plus the QAL Active Participle of ASAH, עָשָׂה that means, “to make or do.” Given the comparison of this verse, we understand this “doing” to be “speaking.”
“Faithfully” is the noun EMUNAH, אֱמוָּנה that means, “steadiness, faithfulness, truth, etc.”, which we saw in vs. 17, for those who “speak the truth.”
The one who does things faithfully with their lips/tongue, are “His delight”, which is the Noun RATSON, רָצוֹן for “favor, delight, etc.” It means this believer is pleasing to the Lord. In other words, the honest person who speaks truthfully on a consistent basis is one who is cycling Bible Doctrine in their soul and speaking according to its principles and precepts. This believer/counselor is pleasing to the Lord, and as such, they walk in a state of acceptance with Him (experientially sanctified) and so enjoy His blessings and protection.
So the fundamental issue to all of this is the heart, since its state is revealed in the words we speak and deeds we perform. Therefore, it is a heart issue… Do you have God’s Word in the heart (right lobe) of your soul, or do you instead have evil etched upon your soul? If your heart is filled with evil and sin, that will be reflected in your words and actions. If your heart is filled with righteousness (Bible Doctrine), you will speak and act righteously and be pleasing to the Lord.
The heart that is void of doctrine results in abominable speech in the eyes of the Lord, yet the heart filled with His Word results in speech that is pleasing to Him. Therefore, God delights, approves, or accepts those that deal “truthfully” and “truly.” He favors those who are faithful and true. Faithfulness and truth are a big deal to the Lord for God IS faithful and true.
Prov 12:23, “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.”
This verse begins with the positive of the righteous believer, and is similar to vs. 16b.
“Prudent man” is the Adjective ARUM, עָרוּם that means, “shrewd, clever, or prudent” with the Noun ADAM, עָרוּם, for “man.”
“Conceals” is the Qal Active Participle of KASAH, כָּסָה that means, “to cover or conceal.” We have seen this word a number of times already. In three of the last four usages, it speaks to “covering” in that you do not reveal / gossip about other people’s sins, secrets, or even your own anger, Prov 10:12: 11:13; 12:16.
Here the concealing is for general information using the word “knowledge”, DA’ATH, and is contrasted with folly. So the prudent man conceals what he knows about sin and folly in general and that of other people. He does not gossip, malign, slander, or lie, and does not reveal the temptations of sin in his own soul. He keeps them all to himself.
The prudent man conceals this evil knowledge because he is not driven neurotically by pride to parade his knowledge around in front of others, nor does he allow his rage and anger to escape and wreak harm. He has the self-control to wait for the right situation and the prudence to know when to speak up, Prov 3:7; 10:14a; 11:13.
Prov 11:13, “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.”
As such, he maintains inscrutability where he has control over his situation.
Eccl 3:7, “A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
Amos 5:12-13, “For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, you who distress the righteous and accept bribes and turn aside the poor in the gate. 13Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.”
In addition, the prudent man knows when to speak doctrine and when to hold it back.
Mat 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
“He keeps it to himself without bringing it forth until an occasion presents itself for setting it forth at the right place, at the right time, and to the right man. The right motive also regulates such silence as well as modesty.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
“But the heart of fools proclaims folly.”
“But the heart of” is the Waw construct with LEB for “heart.”
“Fools” here is the Adjective KESIYL, כְּסִיל that means, “fool, stupid fellow, simpleton, foolish, or arrogant one.” It is derived from the Verb KASAL that means, “to be or become stupid or foolish”, which is only used in Jer 10:8, “But they are altogether stupid (BAAR – brutish) and foolish (KASAL) in their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood!” (Today we could say “their idol is green!” = money.)
KESIYL has the underlining meaning of “sluggish or dull”, and refers to more than mere lack of experience or mental ability, but a willful and obstinate walking down the wrong path. We noted this in Prov 1:22, 32; 3:35; 8:5; 10:1, 18, 23.
The fool is one of the leading themes in the Book of Proverbs, and KESIYL is the most common of three Hebrew words translated as “fool.” The other two are EWIYL, אֱוִיל, which is used for someone who not only lacks sense, but is also morally corrupt (which we have seen and will see in this verse below), and NABAL, נָבָל (naw-bawl), that adds a coarse defiance to the portrait of the fool. It means, “foolish, godless, or fool.” Godlessness in Israelite society was equated with foolishness, and wisdom was equated with righteousness and godliness.
So in our verse, the KESIYL is known for his folly, which is almost always expressed as a derivative of EWIYL, Prov 13:16; 14:8, 24, noting the heart of the stupid or foolish believer or unbeliever and what it “proclaims.”
“Proclaims” is the Qal stem, incomplete Imperfect of the Verb QARA, קָרָא that means, “to call out”, which is the act of making a vocal sound to establish contact with someone or to proclaim something. The imperfect means they will continue to do this over and over again. So the foolish believer or unbeliever continually proclaims to others “folly.”
“Folly” is the feminine Noun IWWELETH, אִוֶּלֶת, (iv-veh-leth), from the same as EWIYL, indicating “folly or foolishness.”
“Folly in the wisdom literature is primarily imprudency, but at times definitely includes the concept of moral degeneracy. It is characterized as something that is evident to all. Whereas the prudent person is characterized by silent reflection, the fool blurts out his folly to everyone.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
So once again, we see what comes from the heart of the fool; folly, evil, moral, and immoral degeneracy, etc. They are what they think, as Prov 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.”
“Because the wise understand the value of words, they use them carefully. Because they know that wisdom comes by listening and learning, they speak sparingly and well (10:19; 17:27). Fools, ignorant of words’ value, are so busy demonstrating their “wisdom” that they speak without thought (18:2).” (Fredric Clarke Putnam, Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Proverbs.)
2 Tim 3:9, “But they will not make further progress; for their folly (ANOIA) will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’ and Jambres’ folly was also.”
This leads us to the:
“Doctrine of the Fool.”
“Fool” in Hebrew can be one of three words; KESIYL, EWIYL, and NABAL. KESIYL is the most common of the three, used about 70 times.
KESIYL, כְּסִיל means, “fool, stupid fellow, simpleton, foolish or arrogant one.” It is derived from the verb KASAL that means, “to be or become stupid or foolish”, which is only used in Jer 10:8, “But they are altogether stupid and foolish in their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood!”
EWIYL, אֱוִיל is a Noun fairly similar in meaning to KESIYL. EWIYL occurs 26 times in the Old Testament, with 19 occurrences in Proverbs. It denotes someone who not only lacks sense, but is also morally corrupt. It is often contrasted with CHAKAM “wise,” YASHAR, “upright,” or SEKEL, “insight or prudent.”
NABAL, נָבָל (naw-bawl), is an Adjective that occurs only three times in Proverbs, Prov 17:7, 21; 30:22, and adds a coarse defiance to the portrait of the fool. It means “foolish, godless, or fool.” It is derived from the Verb NABEL, נָבֵל (naw-bale) that means, “to wither, to wear out, to be futile, to be foolish,”
“Folly” is the Hebrew feminine Noun IWWELETH, אִוֶּלֶת, (iv-veh-leth), used predominantly in Proverbs. It occurs 24 times in the Old Testament, and all but two are in Proverbs. It primarily means imprudent, and occasionally has the concept of moral degeneracy. It is characterized as something that is evident to all, in other words, the fool blurts out his folly to everyone.
The fool is one of the leading themes in the Book of Proverbs. In Scripture, the fool is willfully and obstinately walking down the wrong path.
KESIYL portrays the fool as a self-confident (arrogant), self-deceived, and/or self-righteous person.
- He does not seek wisdom (Bible Doctrine) seriously, but rejects its advice, Prov 23:9.
- He assumes that he can get wisdom as easily as purchasing something, but there is an inner deficiency that keeps him from actually gaining wisdom; he lacks the heart or inner being to receive it, Prov 17:16.
- He thinks that he can find the secrets of success in faraway places, ignoring the true wisdom that is right before him, Prov 17:24.
- He does not want to listen and learn, Prov 26:9, but merely talks to display his own ideas, 18:2.
- In reality, the fool has none of the knowledge of which he boasts, Psa 92:6.
- His problem is his heart, the Hebrew term for the whole inward being of humans, which we also call the right lobe of your soul. He has inner rebellion against God that produces outward foolishness, Prov 12:23. It flows out in his words, Prov 15:2. Even a proverb is meaningless when he says it, Prov 26:7.
- His downfall is complacency, Prov 1:32.
- He constantly displays his warped attitude of cosmic viewpoint, like a peddler spreads his goods before a buyer, Prov 13:16.
- He actually enjoys his wickedness, Prov 10:23; and repeatedly returns to his wicked behavior, Prov 26:11. The idea of turning from evil is repugnant to him, Prov 13:19.
- He rejects the counsel of God’s Word, because he places his trust in his own cleverness and resources, Prov 28:26.
- He is characterized by anger, hot tempered, and cannot hold his tongue, Prov 12:16; 14:16; 18:6; 29:11, 22; Eccl 7:9.
- His anger is sometimes disguised by his deceit, but hostility still exists, Prov 10:18; 14:8.The Bible warns of the fool’s impact on those around him.
- He is a grief to his parents, Prov 10:1; 17:21, 25. In fact, he can be a destructive force in the family, Prov 19:13.
- His words stir up quarrels, Prov 18:6.
- He goes into bursts of blind anger as dangerous as a mother bear deprived of her cubs, Prov 17:12.
- Close association with him will have harmful effects, Prov 13:20, those who can avoid him should do so.
- The results of choosing the life of a fool are destructive in the long run because:
- He assumes that God does not see his sin, Psa 94:8.
- He tries to present himself as wise, but eventually his folly will be exposed, Prov 14:33.
- His destruction is certain, Prov 1:32.
- How should you respond to a fool?
- There are times when a word of counsel or warning (exhortation or rebuke with Bible doctrine shared) may be appropriate, Prov 8:5; 26:5.
- But if a person has actually chosen this path, rebukes are generally ineffective, Prov 17:10, 16; 18:2; 21:20; 23:9; 26:4.
- In that case, and in general, it is wise to avoid the fool to escape the risks that go with such company, Prov 13:20; 14:7. You do not want to follow his path of destruction, Eccl 10:3.
- It is unwise to entrust any important business to him, Prov 26:6.
- A hardened fool will only respond to the harsh realities of punitive discipline. Sometimes the public pain and shame of the authority’s rod is actually the most beneficial experience for him, Prov 19:29; 26:3, but even that may not be effective, Prov 17:10.
- The worst thing you can do for a fool is give him luxury and honor, Prov 19:10; 26:1.
- The basic problem is spiritual, not intellectual. It lies in the heart, and only God can truly change the heart of a fool. The problem is that the fool has no interest in God and the root of foolishness is antithetical to that of wisdom, as the “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”, Psa 111:10; Prov 1:7.
Prov 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
As we noted at the beginning of this doctrine there are three primary words used for the fool or foolish, KESIYL, EWIYL, and NABAL. The above principles where primarily using the application of KESIYL and told us that folly is equated with wickedness, Prov 10:23, 15:7, and that the foolish are often impulsive and lacking self-control.
The next grouping shows us how EWIYL is used in Proverbs. Remember that EWIYL (ev-eel), denotes someone who not only lacks sense, KESIYL, but is also morally corrupt, and is often contrasted with CHAKAM “wise,” YASHAR, “upright,” or SEKEL, “insight and prudent.”
In Brown, Driver, and Brigg’s Hebrew Lexicon, they identify EWIYL being used substantively for the fool who despises wisdom, mocks when guilty, is quarrelsome and is licentious.
KESIYL told us that the fool does not pursue wisdom (Bible Doctrine), and EWIYL tells us that the first characteristic of the fool is he lacks wisdom (Doctrine in the right lobe of his soul), Prov 1:7.
- Fools are said to die for the lack of having wisdom (God’s Word) in their soul, Prov 10:21.
- Continuing in the lack of wisdom genre, a fool despises even his father’s instruction in Prov 15:5, and ultimately, wisdom is beyond his grasp, Prov 24:7, as a result of the garbage of Satan’s cosmic system in his soul and the resultant buildup of scar tissue within his soul.
- Rather than listening to others, the fool does what seems right to him, Prov 12:15.
- Since this foolishness appears to be a permanent condition, Prov 27:22, the fool will become the servant of the wise, Prov 11:29.
- The only way a fool can appear wise and prudent is to keep his mouth shut, Prov 17:28.
- In regard to having a lack of self-control, especially in regard to his speech, a fool’s mouth typically brings some form of social or civil discipline to himself, “a rod to his back”, Prov 14:3; 16:22.
- Likewise, the babbling fool will come to ruin, Prov 10:8, 10, because his mouth invites it, Prov 10:14.
- When the fool is annoyed, he shows it immediately, Prov 12:16; 20:3, and loves to quarrel. That is why the wise man is instructed to avoid getting into a quarrel with the fool, Prov 27:3; 29:9.
- Finally, utilizing EWIYL we see that fools lack moral reasoning:
- They will mock at making amends for sin, Prov 14:9.
- They are like a hapless animal falling into the trap of stupidity and sin, Prov 7:22, metaphorically presented as an adulteress identifying Satan’s cosmic system, so due to their moral perversion, fools are often found in close proximity to sin.
- Fools suffer affliction because of their iniquities as depicted by rebellious Israel in Psa 107:17.
- The prophet Isaiah envisions a time when the righteous will walk in the way of holiness, and wicked fools will not be found there, Isa 35:8.
- In Jeremiah, God rebukes his people because they are fools who have no understanding and are skilled in evil, Jer 4:22.
Next we have the Hebrew word NABAL for fool that is used for Godlessness in Israelite society that was equated with foolishness, while wisdom CHAKMAH is equated with righteousness and godliness.
- Israel acted foolishly, since the nation chose to provoke God by infidelity, according to the Song of Moses, Deut 32:6, 21.
- Fools are equated with non-belief, Job 2:10; 30:8; Psa 14:1; 39:8; 53:1; 74:22; Jer 17:11.
- The righteous should not die like a fool, who are cut off in their prime by violence, 2 Sam 3:33.
- A godless, foolish son is grief to a father, Prov 17:21, “He who sires a fool (KESIYL) does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool (NABAL) has no joy.”
- A fool, living in a godless state, does all he can to take advantage of the poor, Isa 32:5-8.
Next we have the Hebrew word IWWELETH that is derived from the same root as EWIYL, and is used for “folly” and “foolishness”. It primarily means imprudence, and at times also includes the concept of moral degeneracy.
- The first imprudency we see is in our main verse of study Prov 12:23. There the folly of the fool is often characterized as something that is evident to all. The prudent man is characterized by concealing a matter of offense, whereas the fool blurts out his folly to everyone. This is reemphasized in Prov 13:16.
- At times the folly of fools will bring them punishment, Prov 16:22, which punishment is recommended as an antidote to folly, Prov 22:15.
Prov 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”
- We are warned to avoid a fool in his folly, because there can be undesirable consequences for those who associate with them, Prov 17:12.
Prov 17:12, “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.”
In contrasting the foolish with the wise, Proverbs tells us:
- The foolish woman tears down her house, Prov 14:1, whereas the wise woman builds her house up.
- The folly of fools is deception, but the prudent carefully consider their ways, Prov 14:8.
- The simple inherit folly, whereas the wise are crowned with knowledge, Prov 14:18.
- The fool will end up with nothing but his own folly, whereas the wise end up wealthy, Prov 14:24.
- The fool feeds on folly, yet the discerning seek knowledge, Prov 15:14.
- Folly captivates one who lacks judgment, but a person of understanding keeps on the right course, Prov 15:21
- The foolish are often impulsive and lacking self-control.
- The quick-tempered person winds up doing foolish things, Prov 14:17, 29.
- From the mouth of the foolish gushes folly, whereas the wise person conveys knowledge, Prov 15:2.
- The foolish person is characterized as answering before listening, Prov 18:13.
- Rather than learning from past mistakes, the fool repeats his folly, even as a dog returns to its vomit, Prov 26:11.
- The folly of the foolish can be a permanent condition, Prov 27:22.
- Several passages utilizing IWWELETH include a moral or spiritual dimension.
- The schemes of folly are sin, Prov 24:9.
Prov 24:9, “The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to men.”
- The reversionistic believer ruins his own life and then turns around in rage and blames it on the Lord, Prov 19:3.
- This foolish (reversionistic) believer will be led astray by his folly (sin), to the point of suffering the third stage of Divine discipline, the Sin Unto Death, Prov 5:23.
- Two passages outside of Proverbs also correlate folly with sin and its consequences.
1) God knows all of our folly (sin), Psa 69:5.
2) The consequences of folly (sin) includes stages one and two of Divine discipline from the Lord,
Psa 38:5, “My wounds grow foul and fester because of my folly.”
- We are told to not talk to the foolish in Prov 26:4, and then to talk to them in 5.
Prov 26:4, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him.”
Prov 26:5, “Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes.”
This is not contradictory. Vs. 4 is recommending that we do not associate with the fool or else we will become like him, whereas vs. 5 tells us that at times we need to correct, reprove, or rebuke the fool for his own good.
So from this amazing study of the fool in the book of Proverbs, and elsewhere in the Old Testament, we see what the fool is all about, and we are instructed to avoid the fool and not become a fool ourselves. In addition, if we are already a fool, we are instructed how to change from being a fool. We also noted the severe consequences of being or becoming a fool.
And finally, as many of these verses showed us the contrasts of the fool, we need to heed those principles and precepts which showed us wisdom, insight, and prudence, and apply them to our lives. Then we can walk in the light of Jesus Christ, as we walk in the righteousness that God has given to us at the moment of our salvation. As God has given the believer positional sanctification / righteous at salvation, He desires that we walk in His righteousness by diligently learning and applying His Word. When we do, we will be wise, having the wisdom of Bible Doctrine etched upon the heart of our soul, whereby we walk experientially sanctified, glorifying God on a consistent basis.
James 3:13-18, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
And as a result, God is able to bless us in both time and eternity.
In Prov 13:16-20, we will note the Doctrine of “How to Identify a Fool,” and we will see the fool again in Chapter 14:7-9, and just about every other chapter in the rest of the book of Proverbs. In addition, we will note the New Testament usages of “fool” and “foolish”.
In concluding Proverb 12, we will note vs. 24-28 as a group. In these verses the subject is the means of succeeding in life. There are two ways to do this, one of which leads to error, and the other to life unto Christ.
Prov 12:24, “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.”
Here we move from the mouth to our actions / deeds.
“Hand” is the Noun YADH, יָד, and “diligent” is the Adjective CHARUTS, חָרוּץ, used five times in Proverbs, (Prov 10:4; 12:24, 27; 13:4; 21:5). It is derived from the Verb CHARATS that means, “to cut or decide,” and comes to mean, “to be sharp, diligent, or industrious.”
“Will rule” is the Qal Imperfect of the Verb MASHAL, מָשַׁל that means, “to have power, rule, or reign” that we noted on Prov 6:7.
This means that our hard work will pay off. When we do the things we are required to do with diligence, we will be blessed in that realm.
“But the slack hand will be put to forced labor.”
This show us what happens when we are lazy in life at work and also in our spiritual life.
“Slack hand” is the Noun REMIYYAH, רְמִיָּה, that means, “deceitful, treachery, fault, or laziness, negligence, or sloth.” It refers to what is not truth, steadfastness, or correct, and “to lose character in the sense of slackness, laziness, lack of diligence or attention.”
We noted REMIYYAH in Prov 10:4, and will see it again in vs. 27 for the “lazy or slothful man.” Used adjectivally, it refers to a deceitful tongue, Psa 120:2f. It also refers to a tongue that utters deception or fraud, Job 27:4; Micah 6:12, and to a scheming person, Job 13:7; Psa 52:2; 101:7.
“Forced labor” is the Noun MAS, מַס that is used in Proverbs only once. It denotes a government-enforced taxation, filled by labor or material goods. Forced labor could be the result of defeat in battle, or as here, the result of laziness or the unwillingness to work extra hours to produce a surplus.
“It designates an imposed taxation in onerous labor without becoming an outright slave, (Josh 17:13; Judges 1:28-30, 33-35; Isa 31:8; cf. Ex. 1:11).” (Waltke, New International Commentary.)
It is eerily similar to our current economy of high debt ratio per person and astronomical debt for our nation, that means we work for the government or China (who holds a majority of our debt) and not for ourselves.
“In the Blessing of Jacob, Issachar is accused of having strength but lacking interest in working hard for himself, preferring the lack of anxiety about his labors at the end of the day, willingly becoming a laborer (Gen. 49:15). Ironically, the hand that avoids any work ends up performing the most burdensome tasks, and whoever cannot govern himself loses his independence and comes to drudgery, (see p. 114; Mat 24:45-46; 25:21). (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
“To put it bluntly, the diligent rise to the top and the lazy sink to the bottom.” (Ross, Proverbs)
“The diligent will rule over the indolent, since the refusal of such people to work means that they will fail to produce and to earn. The slothful are therefore at the mercy of those to whom they owe money or property. They cannot pay their debts, and are forced to work in order to pay off their creditors. They are thus put to forced labor just as surely as if they had been conscripted (cf. 1 Ki. 5:13-16; 12:18). The irony is that sluggards tend to view themselves as free (from work, at least) and may even view the diligent as enslaved to their occupations.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Proverbs)
“It is still the experience of today, as it was of Solomon’s time, that slothfulness (indolence) brings down to a state of servitude, if not even deeper, but that vigorous activity raises to dominion or to the position of a master, i.e., to independence, wealth, respect, and power.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary- Proverbs)
Prov 12:25, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.”
Now getting back to the use of our tongue, this verse compares the impact our words have on others.
“Anxiety” is the Noun DE’AGAH, דְּאָָגה that means, “anxiety or anxious care.” Used only once in Proverbs and six times in the Old Testament. It is not the typical word for fear, YIRAH, that carries the connotation of awe and respect, especially in the “fear of the Lord” phrases found throughout Proverbs. DE’AGAH on the other hand, has the concept of “fearful anxiety”, as in Ezek 4:16; 12:18-19, when the Lord removed their bread due to their reversionism. It denotes extreme emotional distress caused by a situation of fearing to lose something vital to life, cf. 1 Sam 9:5; 10:2; Jer 38:19; 49:23.
In our passage this type of anxious fear is what “weighs down a man’s heart”, “as worry strikes at a person’s very core, destabilizing all his behavior so that he wavers like the restless sea.” (Waltke, NIC)
“Weighs down” is the causative active Hiphil stem and incomplete Imperfect voice of SHACHAH, שָׁחָה that means, “to bow down or to worship.” It implies an intolerable, crushing burden.
This type of bowing down is “in a man’s heart”, BE ISH LEB.
Now, given the context of the contrast here, “a good word” spoken, we understand the first half of this verse to be the opposite and the result of “an evil word” spoken. That evil word causes fear, worry, and anxiety in a man’s heart, so much so that he “bows down to it” or “worships it”, which means he is totally consumed or occupied by it, which in turn causes stress and anxiety within his soul.
This once again reminds us of the power of our words, especial of our evil words, (i.e., the sins of the tongue.) The words that you say to hurt someone are so powerful that you can cripple the mentality of their soul causing all kinds of negative effects to their thoughts, words, and actions.
And the fact is that, we are surrounded daily by those living in the cosmic system who use their words in a negative way. So what are we to do? Well fortunately we have the power of the filling of God the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to put on the armor of God in Eph 6:13ff, and establish the FLOT line of your soul with the 11+ problem solving devices, so that we can extinguish the flaming missiles of intentional and unintentional verbal assaults.
But if we do not put on the armor of God and the problem solving devices, we instead will allow the outward pressure of life and the verbal assaults from those around us to become inward stress upon the soul. This will cause us to be defeated in our spiritual walk and lead to all kinds of mental, verbal, and overt sins.
“But a good word makes it glad.”
In contrast to the “words of the wicked” of vs. 6 and the first half of our verse, here we have a “good word”, which is the Adjective TOB (tov) for “good”, and the Noun DAVAR דָּבָר that means, “a word, matter, event, or affair.”
This identifies “good speech” as noted in Prov 1:6, 23; 4:4, 20, that has the power to heal and bring peace to a man’s soul or situation. When we control our tongue and speak in righteousness, we will have a positive effect on those around us.
“Whereas anxiety knocks a person out of commission, the personal and kind, pleasant and sweet, timely and thoughtful word restores him with encouragement and hope (15:30; 25:25; cf. 1 Sam. 2:24).” (Waltke, NIC)
These kinds of words will “make it glad”, that is, it will “cause their heart to rejoice”, using the causative Piel incomplete Imperfect of SAMACH, שָׂמַח, “to rejoice or be glad”, Prov 5:18; 10:1, which means it will continue to cause rejoicing over and over again.
Therefore, rather than crippling the soul of a person through verbal sins of the tongue, the righteous use words of encouragement and exhortation. This does not mean you should use words of flattery, as we noted they too are a sin of the tongue in Prov 5:3; 6:24; 7:21; Psa 5:9.
Psa 5:9, “There is nothing reliable in what they say; their inward part is destruction itself. Their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.”
But instead, the righteous should speak with honesty and integrity as they speak God’s Word, to exhort and encourage, and at times if necessary reprove and rebuke. These kinds of words are freeing to the soul of believers and unbelievers, and bring inner peace and happiness causing them to rejoice in the heart of their soul (right lobe).
“Words are so potent (18:21) that the right word at the right time can change the entire outlook (12:18; 15:4, 23, 30; 25:25). Words that heal rather than wound (12:17) reflect the forethought and compassion that characterize the wise.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
Prov 12:26, “The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
Here we see our words leading to actions.
“The righteous”, TSADDIQ, “is a guide”, is the declarative Hiphil, and Jussive of desire of the Verb TUR תּוּר that means, “to explore, to investigate.;”
“To his neighbor”, REA that means, “kinsman, countrymen, or friend.”
The key word is TUR which is a metaphor denoting a careful, diligent, and penetrating examination in order to find what is concealed. It means that the righteous person explores the heart of a man before he speaks to him or points him in a direction. You see, sometimes you will be talking to a spiritually mature believer and you can speak bluntly or candidly to them, because you know they have wisdom and discernment from Bible doctrine in their soul to be able to handle it. But other times you have to “couch” your words when speaking to an immature believer, because they will not have the discernment of Bible Doctrine in their soul.
Guiding means to shows someone which direction to walk or travel in, and to help others decide what to do by giving them advice or by giving them a good example to follow. And that is what the wise mature believer does as a righteous counsel to others; allowing them to make their own decisions.
“But the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
“The way” is the Noun DEREK for “road or way.” It means, “way, path, or direction someone is heading in.”
“Wicked” is RASHA.
“Leads them astray” is the declarative Hiphil incomplete Imperfect of the Verb TA’AH, תָּעָה, that means, “to wander or go astray”, Prov 7:25: 10:17. The verb has the basic idea of someone or something “wandering, being lost, or going astray” from known ways. The spiritual application is: just as a person may go off a path and get lost, so may a person move away from God’s righteous path and become lost spiritually.
In this case, they too have a guide called “the wicked”, who are guiding or better yet “leading” them into sin and Satan’s cosmic system. Therefore, the friends whom the wicked choose carelessly will lead them astray, Prov 19:19; 24:24f, and this verse admonishes extreme caution in choosing your confidential friend(s), because living in the context of wickedness leads one away from the path of life and into that of death.
“The eyes of the righteous are wide open for indications of incorrigibility (cf. 12:1, 15), deceit (12:20), garrulity, (talkativeness or chattiness), (12:23, and/or unreliable conduct (20:17, 19, 22) in their companions. But the monstrous vanity and colossal selfishness of the wicked blinds them and prevents them from a correct orientation to reality (cf. 1:10-15).” (Waltke, New International Commentary)
So the righteous believer will guide others towards the path of righteousness, while the wicked believer or unbeliever will lead others into all kinds of sinful folly. And remembering the context of this section, they do so with their words, either words emanating from Bible Doctrine in their soul leading others to righteousness, or words of carnality and cosmic thinking leading others to destruction.
Prov 12:27, “A lazy / slothful man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.”
Harkening back to vs. 24, we once again have a comparison between the lazy and diligent.
“A lazy or slothful man” is once again the Noun REMIYYAH, רְמִָיּה that can mean, “laziness or deceit”, which we saw in Prov 10:4 & 12:24 for the lazy, slothful, or slack natured individual. In regard to “deceit” it can mean, “fraud or treachery.” When used adjectivally, it refers to a deceitful tongue, as in Psa 120:2f; Job 27:4; Micah 6:12, and to a scheming person in Job 13:7; Psa 52:2; 101:7.
What does the lazy person not do? “Roast his prey,” which is LO CHARAKH, חָרַךְ that means, to “roast or scorch.” It is a hapaxlegomena, meaning it is only used once in the Old Testament. The traditional rabbinic interpretation is that it means that the slothful does not “roast” what he has caught (so NIV, NASB, NKJV).
“Prey” is the Noun TSAYID, צַיִד that means, “hunting or game.” It is used for the hunter like Nimrod in Gen 10:9 or Esau in Gen 27:30. More often, it is used to describe the game itself, Gen 27:3ff, and in our verse, it describes a slothful man, so lazy that he does not even roast the game he has caught, and therefore it goes to waste.
This parallels other verses that describe the sluggard as beginning a task, but failing to complete it, Prov 19:24; 26:24. And as Kidner notes, “whether as non-finisher or non-starter, the indolent man throws away his chances.” (Kidner, Proverbs.)
Just as the lazy starve physically in the midst of abundant food, the incorrigible starve spiritually in the midst of abundant teaching of Bible Doctrine, Prov 10:21.
This tells us that the lazy have disregard for God’s logistical grace blessings of food, clothing, shelter, jobs, Bible Doctrine, etc. Therefore, due to their indifference, the lazy lets them slip through their fingers and receive no benefit from God’s provisions.
“But the precious possession of a man is diligence.”
“Precious” is the Adjective YAQAR, יָקָר that means, “precious, rare, or something valuable.”
What is valuable here is the “possession of a man”, HON ADAM, where HON means, “goods or wealth” and stands for the substance a man has, meaning his sufficiency to care and provide for himself.
What gives him this sufficiency is his “diligence”, the Noun CHARUTS, חָרוּץ that we saw in Prov 10:4 & 12:24, which can mean, “sharp, diligent, or industrious.”
In other words, it is his hard work and labor by which he is able to provide for himself, as opposed to the lazy boy who will not lift a finger even when he may be starving, cf. Prov 12:11; 13:4; 22:29.
The diligent believer however takes advantage of the logistical grace blessings from God, while the reversionistic believer lets them slip through his fingers.
“Some men can exert themselves for a time, but soon fall back into their customary slothful manner. Many hear the ministry of the Word but fail afterwards to meditate on it and make it their own. They are like a hunter who spares no pain in the excitement of the hunt but afterward does nothing good with his prey. The way of the diligent is very different. He uses his resources well and so more is given to him. See the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
Prov 12:28, “In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.”
The conclusion to the chapter is a double positive which envelopes the life of the righteous believer as described in this chapter.
“In the way of righteousness” is BE ORACH TSEDAQAH
ORACH, אֹרַח means, “pathway, highway, etc.” It describes the literal path one walks on, and functions here to describe the way or path of life for the believer in Christ.
TSEDAQAH, צְדָקָה means, “righteousness, blameless conduct, and integrity.” The noun describes justice, right actions, and right attitudes, as expected from God. Combined they mean, walking in the light of Christ, experientially sanctified.
“Is life” is the Noun CHAYYIM חַיִּים, used here to emphasize the physical and spiritual life God desires for us to live. He has made us perfect righteousness, positionally, from the moment of our salvation based on the work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross and our non-meritorious faith in Him. God also desires that we live a complete and fulfilled life here on earth, which means we must walk in His righteousness experientially. This is living a life unto Christ for the Church Age believer.
In regard to living that righteous life unto God that He desires for us, experientially sanctified, God has given us an Outline in Chapter 12 as how to achieve it. Therefore, we note the following:
Vs. 1, It begins by having a love for the academic teaching of Bible Doctrine, because you love God’s Word.
Vs. 2, As a result, you will be pleasing to the Lord.
Vs. 3, It will give you a firm and solid foundation for generations to come.
Vs. 4, You will be a crown to your husband, i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ.
Vs. 5, Your mental attitude will be one of fairness and justice.
Vs. 6, Your speech will deliver souls unto salvation.
Vs. 7, You and your family will have a strong faith rest life.
Vs. 8, You will have a good reputation among your peers.
Vs. 9, You will have tremendous humility.
Vs. 10, You will have Category 3 Love, lovingkindness (compassion) towards mankind.
Vs. 11, Because you study God’s Word, you will be abundantly fed spiritually.
Vs. 12, You will have Divine Good Production, the fruit of the Spirit: fruit, more fruit, and much fruit, John 15.
Vs. 13, Your words will not cause trouble for you. No “foot in mouth” disease.
Vs. 14, You will be satisfied with your Divine good production, and you will be blessed for it.
Vs. 15, Your wisdom will cause you to learn and apply even more Bible Doctrine.
Vs. 16, You will have a calm demeanor and keep to yourself insults and verbal injuries.
Vs. 17, You will teach others the truths found in God’s Word.
Vs. 18, Your speech will cause soulful healing and reconciliation in others.
Vs. 19, Your words will endure forever, you will save people, and have lasting rewards.
Vs. 20, Your peace bringing counsel to others causes you to have outward rejoicing.
Vs. 21, You will also have inner peace and contentment.
Vs. 22, Your faithfulness to God and His Word will be pleasing to God.
Vs. 23, You have control over your sin nature and soul.
Vs. 24, Your hard work will be rewarded.
Vs. 25, Your doctrinal speech brings inner joy to you and the hearer.
Vs. 26, Your words and actions guide your peers to salvation and righteousness.
Vs. 27, By your diligence you secure logistical grace blessings from God.
Vs. 28, And as a result, you will live the life God desires for you here on earth.
And, as the corresponding second half of this verse tells us, “And in its pathway”, DEREK NATHIYBAH, (used figuratively of the path of life of the righteous, here and Job 19:8; Psa 119:105; Isa 42:16), “there is no death”, AL MAWETH. This means that we will absolutely not come under any form of self-induced misery or Divine Discipline from the Lord that cuts our life here on planet earth short. In other words, we will have maximum opportunity to glorify God in time with the result of storing up blessings and rewards for eternity. And it all starts and ends with your love for God and His Word; the Alpha and Omega!!! (The A and Ω.)