Proverbs 12
Proverbs 12 Kingcomments Bible Studies

To Love Knowledge and Obtain Favor

Pro 12:1 is a good illustration of the fact that love is not about a pleasant emotion. Accepting “discipline” is often not easy. To accept discipline you must love it. You do that when you recognize its importance. This is about whether we have the explicit will to accept discipline or whether we do not want to be disciplined. If we have the will to accept discipline, we will love discipline. It is a love that must be learned. The other case, hating “reproof” happens almost automatically. This is how we are by nature.

Those who want to grow spiritually must learn to accept and learn from “discipline” or correction. This requires voluntarily acting as a disciple toward someone who disciplines him. It shows the humble mind of one who does not think highly of himself. The one who disciplines him may be God Who speaks to him through His Word. God can also speak through a person, anyone, or through an event.

“Whoever loves discipline”, which implies that a person longs to be disciplined, proves that he loves “knowledge”. Discipline is associated with “knowledge”. It is about the knowledge of God and Christ, which is knowing God’s will to live to His glory. To gain knowledge requires effort through training. When it is about “the knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Lord” (Phil 3:8), no way can be too hard and no cost can be too high. There is no easy way to spiritual knowledge. Eve chose the easy way and sin made its entry.

The second line of verse begins with “but”, indicating that now the contrast with the first line of verse follows. There are two contrasts: “hate” is contrasted with love and “stupid” with knowledge. “He who hates reproof”, who contemptuously refuses and rejects, acts foolishly and stupidly like an animal that has no understanding. To hate means to dislike. That aversion comes from the prideful heart that does not want to know about reproof. He who hates reproof shows the unreason of an animal that does not realize that it is for its own good if it is hurt.

“A good man” (Pro 12:2) is he who by the grace of God is good, for “there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom 3:12b). “None is good, but one: God”, that is the Lord Jesus (Mk 10:18). He who has Him as his life can also be good and therefore do good. The good one is full of goodness, which can only be worked by the Spirit of God. Goodness is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

A good man wants only what God, the Good One, wants and what is expressed through the Spirit. This brings him “the favor from the LORD”. God connects Himself to him, for in him He recognizes Himself. There is harmony between the good and the Good. This applies to every believer who walks with God. It applies above all to Christ. He is the perfectly good Man and also the perfectly good God. As Man, He obtained God’s favor.

Opposite the man of goodness is the man “who devises evil”. In such a person there is no goodness; he has no life from God. He acts according to his sinful nature, as evidenced by the plans he makes to harm others. Such a person does not obtain the goodness of God, but obtains condemnation. Here we see that not only a sinful act makes someone condemnable before God, but also devising evil. Absalom was a man who devised evil, who set out to remove his father David from the throne and seize power (2Sam 15:2-6).

Not Established – Not Moved

There is no stability in wickedness. This applies to both society and individuals. It is written here in the most general sense, “a man”. No one, no matter what wicked, obtains constancy in whatever he does. Wickedness means apart from God, without asking for His will by consulting His Word. People like Abimelech and Ahab disrupted society in the days of their reign and were not established.

Only the righteous are established in life through their righteousness. Righteous people do not have stability in themselves, but they “will not be moved” because they are rooted in Christ (Eph 3:17), in His Word (Col 2:7). The life of the righteous may be shaken violently so that it seems as if they are toppling over, but their root, the principle on which their life is based, is not moved. Wickedness does not last because there is no root in them that is in Christ.

An Excellent Wife

“An excellent wife” is a ‘stout’, ‘brave’, ‘firm’ wife, a wife who knows her task and performs it with satisfaction. By her performance, she enhances the dignity of her husband. She is his “crown”, his fame, a jewel of honor. When he says something and people know who and how his wife is, it gives his words extra strength. The wife makes this valuable contribution because she answers to God’s purpose with her and that is to be of help to her husband.

It is always good, if a servant of the Lord is married, to know what his wife is like, to know who the wife is behind the husband. Boaz tells Ruth that everyone knows she is “a woman of excellence” (Rth 3:11). Any married woman can be a woman of excellence by being as God purposes her to be (cf. Pro 31:10).

The opposite of a wife who is “the crown of her husband” is the wife who “shames” her husband. It does not say what she shames him with, but we can think, for example, of irresponsible spending, neglecting her children and household, excessive talking, immoral behavior. She does not support her husband by her behavior, but renders him powerless in his testimony. The “rottenness in his bones” means that what should give him strength to walk is rotting away from within, rendering him powerless. Bones give firmness and structure to life. A wife who is not of excellence destroys that. She is like the worm in the wood that rots the wood.

The Righteous Against the Wicked

There is an ascent in these verses with contrasts between the righteous and wicked. With the righteous, it goes from their just thoughts in Pro 12:5 through their delivering words in Pro 12:6 to their house standing firm in Pro 12:7. With the wicked it goes from their deceitful counsels in Pro 12:5 through their bloodthirsty words in Pro 12:6 to their overthrow in Pro 12:7.

Of every man who lives apart from God, “every intent of the thoughts of his heart” is “only evil continually” (Gen 6:5), but through repentance and new life a person becomes a righteous one. Of all the righteous, God has become the source of their thoughts. What they think of is governed by Him and His grace in the new life. As a result, it can be said that the thoughts of the righteous “are just” (Pro 12:5). God wants us to direct our thoughts toward Him and Christ. Then our thoughts are just. This verse shows that the thoughts or purposes of good people are focused on what is just for God, for other people and for themselves.

With wicked people, the opposite is true. Their “counsels ... are deceitful”. Their thoughts are only evil. Therefore, their counsels can only lead to evil. The cause is that they have no connection with God. They have a depraved heart and what else can come out of it but bitter water (Jer 17:9; Mt 15:19). While the righteous set their senses on doing good to others, wicked set their senses on doing evil to others.

Nehemiah was such a righteous one. It is said of him by his enemies that he had “had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel” (Neh 2:10). Mordecai and Esther also sought good for their people. In contrast to this is what Haman came up with. Out of ‘patriotism’, he made the proposal to King Ahasuerus to kill the Jews (Est 3:8-9). The same spirit possessed Herod. He said he wanted to worship the Child, when in reality he wanted to kill Him (Mt 2:8; 16). Ahithophel gave Absalom “good counsel” (2Sam 17:14) on how to eliminate his father David and conquer the kingship (2 Samuel 16-17).

Words are the natural means of making thoughts (Pro 12:5) known (Pro 12:6). “The words of the wicked” are like an ambush. The vivid picture of “lie in wait for blood” involves the wicked making false accusations as a trap for the upright. They act deliberately, not on a whim, and are children of their father, the devil, who is a murderer of men from the beginning (Jn 8:44). Many wicked witnesses spoke words against the Lord Jesus to get Him condemned. They laid traps for Him and wanted to catch Him in His words (Lk 20:20-21).

“The upright” who have gained knowledge and experience through discipline and teaching are able to avoid traps of the wicked. They not only avoid words from which blood flows, but use the power of the word to rescue from them those who are trapped by the words of the wicked. Mordecai pleaded with Esther and Esther pleaded with the king to deliver the Jews from Haman’s ruse to exterminate the Jews (Est 4:7-14; Est 7:4-6).

The Lord Jesus, as the perfectly Upright One, always put His opponents to shame by His wise answers. They have lain in wait for His blood, but never have they been able to catch Him in anything He said. They were finally able to kill Him because He surrendered Himself into their hands according to the will of God. Only then could they do what they wanted with Him: shed His blood.

The evil ones are out to harm others, while the upright are out to deliver others from evil. The latter are led by the Holy Spirit, Who works life. They speak from their new life, showing that Christ is their life. If they are killed because of their testimony, they will be delivered from eternal death by the testimony of their mouths. They will be justified by their words (Mt 12:37).

After the thoughts in Pro 12:5 and the words in Pro 12:6, we see the end of the wicked and the righteous in Pro 12:7. It is the contrast between what disappears and what remains. The wicked disappear because God overthrows them with power. They may have built an empire that is very powerful and give the impression that nothing and no one can threaten them, but they have built their entire existence on sand.

From the picture of the fate of the wicked, that they are “overthrown”, shines power. It signifies complete extermination, reminiscent of what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:25). The wicked disappear from the world stage without leaving behind anything of lasting value.

In contrast to this is “the house of the righteous”. The house means the family, as we read that Noah and his house were saved (Heb 11:7). The house means the posterity. The house of the righteous will stand because its foundation is Christ, the Rock. As a result, it will stand in times of need, meaning it will always stand. It marks the enduring consequence of righteousness versus the momentary sojourn on earth of the wicked (Mt 7:24-27).

By “the house of the righteous” we can also think of the house of Israel in the future. That house will consist only of the righteous (Isa 60:21), for it is formed by a faithful remnant from Israel. This remnant was formed and protected by God during the great tribulation. To those who are the new Israel, God fulfills His promises. Their house will remain standing during the millennial kingdom of peace. The wicked are the apostate mass of the Jews who, together with the antichrist, will be overthrown at the end of the great tribulation and disappear forever from the world stage.

To Harvest Praise or Despise

The term for “insight” or understanding refers to the ability to think clearly. This saying shows the appreciation of clear thinking. This is not about intelligence. At birth, each person is given a certain degree of insight or understanding in the sense of intelligence. Of this God says in His Word of all men that they are “darkened in their understanding” (Eph 4:18) and that there is no one who is wise (Rom 3:11). The insight referred to here is the thinking a person receives when he is converted and receives new life. Then he receives the “mind of Christ” (1Cor 2:16).

The believer has received “the understanding” by which he knows “Him who is true” (1Jn 5:20). Practically speaking, it means that through this new insight a person can come to know God and Christ better. This is open to every believer, regardless of the degree of intelligence. “According to” that he has come to know Them and shows it in his words and actions, he will be “praised”. People will notice the beneficial effect even though they may remain inwardly hostile to the gospel. The Lord Jesus has been praised for His words and deeds, although that did not lead to a national conversion, but the people even ended up rejecting and killing Him.

“One of perverse mind”, literally “of perverse heart”, lacks the ability to see things as they really are. He turns against God and Christ and God’s people. Perverse heart means a heart that is deviated, crooked, bent, degenerate. It has departed from God’s Word. A person who is of perverse heart needs not lack logical thinking ability. He may even be extremely intelligent. It is about the nature of the beast, so to speak. Because of being of perverse heart, he makes wrong choices. As a result, he brings upon himself the despise of his fellow men. Abimelech was one of perverse heart (Jdg 9:1-6).

Humility, Care and Diligence

He who in humility is satisfied with what he has is better off than the braggart who is hungry (Pro 12:9). This is about the fine appearance that someone can put on, when in reality he is miserable. It may be someone who has fallen on the lower ground, but wants by all means to hold his head up to the outside world. Some people turn their life into a hollow show. They pretend to be important persons. Simon the magician said of himself “that he was a great man” (Acts 8:9).

The lesson is to be content with the little comfort we have – having a servant is convenient anyway. First and foremost, it is about the mind of humility, about being lightly esteemed or lightly esteeming oneself. However, he who wants to live in opulence and provide himself with all the comforts and puts himself in debt for it, while he cannot provide for the basic needs of his family, is foolish. You cannot fill your stomach with a caravan bought on the cheap.

The verse is a warning against grandstanding, boasting. God “regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar” (Psa 138:6). The pride of life “is not from the Father, but from the world” (1Jn 2:16). God is close to the humble. With him He dwells, there He feels Himself as at home, as it were, as in heaven (Isa 57:15). But there is a vast distance between Him and the haughty one, whom He sees in the distance.

Just as God cares for the animals, for example the sparrows (Mt 10:29-31; Psa 147:9; Job 39:3), so does the righteous (Pro 12:10). That God draws our attention to His care for animals is to show us that His care for man is even greater than His care for animals. The Lord Jesus, after speaking of God’s care for the ravens, says: “How much more valuable you are than the birds!” (Lk 12:24).

We must remember this at a time when people are doing all kinds of things to give animals a “human existence”, while killing babies in their mother’s womb. This kind of “compassion” characterizes the wicked, while they are ruthless toward the most defenseless there is. The so-called compassion of a wicked animal activist is cruel. This is evidenced by his destruction of property or even human lives of those who, in his view, mistreat animals and justify it by his claim to stand up for animal rights.

That does not take away from the fact that God’s concern is also for animals. Compassion for animals shows one’s character. It is about “his animal” that is, his own animal, not animal welfare in general. Even less is it a call to establish a party for animals in order to give animals ‘a voice’. What we need to be aware of is that we share with animals that we and they were made by the same Creator. Animals are fellow creatures of man and that should define our attitude toward them. For example, God has established a day of rest for man, but in doing so He has also decreed that animals must rest on that day as well (Exo 20:8-11).

Animals were given to man to serve him and also for food, not to abuse them. The righteous not only cares for his animal, but he “has regard for the life of his animal”. He will take into account what an animal is capable of and needs (Gen 24:32; Gen 33:13-14). If a beast of burden succumbs, even if the animal is owned by an enemy, we must help it (Exo 23:5). When God spares Nineveh, He also considers the animals (Jona 4:11). The righteous will feed the animal as it works (cf. Deu 25:4). In all this he shows the likeness to God Who also cares for His creation with the perfect knowledge that is belongs to Him, through which He knows what each creature is capable of and needs.

The point of the verse is to point out that the righteous is good to all, even to his animals, how much more so than to his neighbor. In contrast to this is the cruelty of the wicked, even toward men, his neighbor. In his inner being there is no compassion, but his inner being is hardened.

Tilling the land (Pro 12:11) is not a consequence of the Fall, but is a command of God to Adam that predates the Fall (Gen 2:15). After the Fall, the command to work remained, though the work became harder (Gen 3:19; Isa 28:23-26). What also remained is the promise that work pays. There is pay for working the land in the form of bread. He who acknowledges this and therefore works will be satisfied with bread.

This principle also applies to the work we do for the Lord. We are called to always be abundant in the work for the Lord and may know that it is not in vain, but will be rewarded (1Cor 15:58). Every believer has a piece of “land” to till (2Cor 10:13). If he has a family, that “land” is first and foremost his family. To that he will have to give attention and invest time. Work must also be done in the church. Whoever performs his task faithfully will be rewarded by the Lord.

In contrast to tilling the land is to pursue what is “worthless” things or people. Worthless people are people who follow worthless things, i.e. fantasies or dreams or people who have such fantasies or dreams. All such people prove that they are ‘work-shy’. The company of idlers consists of empty heads, which are heads that “lack sense”. There is no regard for God and His Word. God has said that whoever will not work will not eat (2Thes 3:10-12). The pursuers of worthless things or persons will surely experience this to their shame one day.

Fruit and Escape

“The wicked man” has desires (Pro 12:12). Those desires form a safety net [“booty” is literally “net”] in which evil is caught and held. By the wicked man is meant especially the antichrist, for he is the embodiment of evil. Everything he desires is evil. There is nothing good in that man. He is a prisoner of evil, he cannot get away from it, and he himself holds evil captive, he does not want to let it go. Everyone who follows him exhibits the same characteristic.

Evil is practiced and the victims or the looted goods are enclosed by him in his ‘safety net’. Death and destruction are the results of his work, both as to his victims and as to him personally, for he will perish in the evil in which he is imprisoned.

In opposition to the evil desires of the wicked, “the root of the righteous yields” corresponding fruit. Producing fruit is not an activity, but the result of the root being in good soil and receiving good nourishment. The righteous have their root in Christ (Col 2:6-7). The Lord Jesus says that those who have their abode in Him and in whom He is bear much fruit (Jn 15:5). It is about having a living connection with Christ.

“The transgression of his lips” happens when rash statements are made and certainly when there is deliberate lying (Pro 12:13). Then the evil man is ensnared in what has been said. He who transgresses in what passes his lips is in danger of being judged for it. Sometimes a politician tries to nuance his statements through a whole verbiage. It may happen that this does not convince and then he has to step down. An Amalekite’s lie to David about Saul’s death became his death, when he thought he would receive a reward (2Sam 4:9-12).

“The righteous” will not get into trouble because of what he says. He knows what to say and what not to say. As a result, he “will escape from trouble”. He does not have to talk his way out of anything or justify himself. What he says is consistent with the truth.

The language of the righteous is compared to “the fruit of his words” (Pro 12:14). He who speaks the truth in love in his language “will be satisfied with good”. Good words give great satisfaction. God gave man a mouth that out of it might come forth fruit for Him, that is, praise, “the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Heb 13:15). God responds and gives satisfaction in the heart that has produced that fruit.

Similarly, in general, there will be blessing or good for one who is wise and sensible in conversation while honoring God. Good advice, sound teaching passed on, is a fruit of words. The words are compared here to a tree that produces fruit. Fruit presupposes growth, beauty and the ability to give satisfaction to others. Fruit demands to be eaten. Words can be eaten (Jer 15:16).

Timothy was nourished on “the words of the faith and the sound doctrine” which he had been following (1Tim 4:6b). This allowed him to pass them on as the fruit of his words. Joshua and Caleb spoke good words about the land and were “satisfied with good”.

The Wise and the Prudent and the Fool

The fool is so set up that he trusts in himself alone (Pro 12:15). He determines his own way which is then completely right in his own eyes. He follows his own way and will not listen to advice. “The way of a fool” is characterized by headlong actions. He pursues those actions despite good advice not to do it. Even if he thought long and hard about a particular path and weighed all the arguments for and against it, it is still a headlong decision, because he does not tolerate any advice. He has a high opinion of himself and his mind. That is the essence of foolishness. God plays no role for him because He does not even exist for him (Psa 14:1).

People show their maturity or immaturity by how they respond to counsel. A reasonable thinking person, that is, a wise person, will recognize and accept good counsel, even if he himself often gives counsel to others. Council is an application of wisdom and knowledge to a specific situation based on keen observation or thoughtful opinion that includes the opinions of others.

One of the names of the Lord Jesus is “Counselor” (Isa 9:5). It is especially important to listen to His counsel. He gives that counsel in His Word. We also do well to consult or listen to God-fearing people when they give us unsolicited counsel. David listened to Abigail’s good counsel and refrained from killing Nabal when he was on his way to him (1Sam 25:32-35).

The fool makes himself known as foolish by his anger, which becomes “known at once”, that is, his anger ignites immediately (Pro 12:16; cf. Ecc 7:9). He is always hot-tempered and convinced of his own rightness. When he is contradicted, he reacts as if stung by a wasp. He has a short fuse and explodes immediately. He lacks reflection and thoughtfulness. As a result, his shame becomes public. An outburst of anger garners not admiration, but contempt. Saul’s moments of rage were a disgrace to him.

He who is prudent controls himself and thereby covers shame; he does not expose himself to it. He is able to deal with criticism without reacting instinctively and irrationally. It is not so much that the prudent man suppresses his anger or feelings, but that he deals with them thoughtfully and keeps them to himself. He knows himself and knows that he can make a mistake. He will, if contradicted, reconsider the matter to himself and not react impulsively. In this we see self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

Speaking Happens From the Heart

When someone “speaks truth” (Pro 12:17), words come out of his mouth that belong to the Divine nature he possesses. He cannot but make known what is “right”. Truth leads to the making known what is right. Right can only be called right if it comes from truth. Given the contrast with the second line of verse, which speaks of “a false witness”, we can think of a trial. But it can also be applied more broadly.

The true or truthful witness is trustworthy because he tells the truth. He gives the right view. He who brings forth the truth will not bend right, but will make it known.

A false witness violates the truth. He commits “deceit” regarding the facts. He lies about it. We can all err at times in representing certain facts. But deceit is deliberately giving a different representation, and that as a witness, than corresponds to reality.

The Lord Jesus always spoke truth and thereby made known what is right. He also had to deal with false witnesses. The one evokes the other. Those who will not bow to the truth are going to lie to and about the truth.

In Pro 12:17 it is about a person’s character, what animates him and what he produces as a result. What we say makes it clear who we are. To speak truth means that it comes from within. John the baptist spoke the truth of God about marriage by making known to Herod God’s right about his illicit relationship with the wife of his brother (Mk 6:18).

Words can act “like the thrusts of a sword” (Pro 12:18). Words spoken hastily and thoughtlessly (Lev 5:4; Num 30:6) can damage the soul of a person. They are words that wound and hurt (cf. Psa 57:4; Psa 59:7; Psa 64:3). The enemies of Jeremiah say they want to “strike at him with” their “tongue” (Jer 18:18). The friends of Job spoke many true words to Job, but these were words like the thrusts of a sword.

And what of the terrible insinuation, uttered by the Jews against the Lord Jesus, that He would have been born of fornication (Jn 8:41). What a thrust of a sword! And what a calm, quiet and thoughtful response from the Lord. Their thrusts of the sword made it clear that they had the devil as their father, and the Lord tells them so (Jn 8:44).

A person can be so damaged by words that it makes it impossible for him to live. Many people know the stinging pain of false, unkind, thoughtless remarks about his person or about a loved one. We must also consider that we ourselves, possibly unconsciously, have done it at times.

Conversely, what the wise say brings healing. Of ourselves, we do not have a “tongue of the wise”. We can get one by learning from the Lord Jesus, because He had that tongue. He learned to speak as a wise man and is an example to us in this. From Him we can learn how to speak (Isa 50:4). Then our words will be healing, for then they will be trustworthy and true. We speak gently and kindly, uplifting and encouraging to those who are the targets of slander.

Barnabas had a tongue of the wise. He spoke reassuring words to the church at Jerusalem about Paul (Acts 9:27). The tongue should be a healing instrument both for damaged hearts of individuals and for critical situations in churches. That happens if a good word is spoken, a word that edifies and gives grace to those who hear it (Eph 4:29). Even an admonishing word can have that effect if it is said at the right time, to the right person and in the right mind.

“Truthful lips” truthfulness, outlasts all lies, always, and never dies (Pro 12:19). Truth is from God. God is the God of truth. Therefore, truth is connected to eternity. What is said in truth will never be undone. All attacks on truth, all opposition to truth, cannot undo truth in any way, ever.

It is different with “the lying tongue”, the lie. That one can be as old as the devil, he is and remains a temporary intruder. Lies can only exercise and maintain a certain power for a limited time. It is “only for a moment”. This expression indicates that it is for no longer than the duration of a blink of an eye. It is so short that the length of time cannot be calculated (cf. Job 20:5). The life of those who speak with a false tongue is of short duration compared to the eternity that awaits. All false teachers will experience this. Their lies disappear, while the truth remains.

Every believer must have a truthful lip. Then he speaks the truth and that will last forever. Lip here stands for the person who uses the lip.

The contrast in Pro 12:20 is between “devise evil” and “counselors peace” and in both cases with a view to the consequences. Because there is deceit “in the heart”, the heart is the forge of evil. Evil results from deceit. The consequence of devising evil is only sorrow and trouble. “Evil” here implies the idea of pain.

Opposite this are “counselors of peace”. Peace, shalom, does not cause pain, but works wholeness and well-being, both for an individual and for a community (Psa 34:14; Psa 37:37). Those who counsel peace will reap the inner satisfaction of doing what is right, as well as the pleasure of seeing positive results.

The difference between truth and lie is the difference between peace and war. All wars are born of a lie, except the wars of God. The lie was born when satan declared war on God.

No Harm Befalls the Righteous

This verse deals with the contrast between “the righteous” and “the wicked” with regard to harm and trouble. That “no harm befalls the righteous” means that he will not definitively perish from harm. The harm of hell will not affect him in any way because Christ bore the punishment for his sins. He has become a righteous person and lives as a righteous person.

It does not mean that he will never get sick or experience anything bad. We see this in a man like Job who was a righteous one. His friends do explain the harm that befalls Job that way. Job, they judge, must be a wicked one given the harm that befalls him. The end of the book of Job shows that God justifies Job to his friends and compensates him doubly for all that has been taken from him. It is about the good that God has in mind for the righteous (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28; 35-39). God has the last word, not harm.

With the wicked, it is the other way around. They may live a prosperous life, but there is no protection from trouble in their prosperity. Protection is found only in Christ, and Him they do not want. Therefore, they will end up “filled with trouble”, with no possibility of recovery, let alone receiving a double blessing. They will have to bear the full consequences of their sinful life forever.

To Deal and Speak Faithfully

“Lying lips” continually speak lies (Pro 12:22). This can happen by speaking lies about everyday things. It can also happen by proclaiming false teachings, as, for example, the roman-catholic church does in its worship of Mary. Selling lies for truth is “an abomination to the LORD”. It is in direct contradiction to His nature as the God of truth. To speak lies is an abuse of the God-given ability to speak.

Opposed to lying lips are “those who deal faithfully”. They “are His delight”, which stands in opposition to what is an abomination to Him. With what is an abomination to Him, He has no fellowship. With those who deal faithfully He can associate Himself with joy. They not only speak the truth, but do the truth, they live it out. Words and deeds, doctrine and life, correspond to one another. Those who deal faithfully exhibit the characteristics of the Son of God in Whom all God’s delight is.

“A prudent man” refrains from exhibiting “knowledge” (Pro 12:23). The verb “conceal” does not mean that he never speaks, but that he is careful, thoughtful, with his words. He will not speak to display his knowledge or to avenge an injustice done to him. He possesses self-control to say the right word at the right time in the right situation (Ecc 3:7b). Elihu could wait his turn to speak (Job 32:4). Mary kept in her heart what the angel told her (Lk 2:19). Joseph waited for the right moment to make himself known to his brothers (Gen 42:7).

Conversely, in “the heart of fools” there is foolishness that they cannot keep to themselves but proclaim it (Ecc 10:3). The fool rattles on at a stretch and babbles on numerous subjects, not hindered by any knowledge of the matter. It is impossible to have a good substantive conversation with him. He can’t listen, let alone wait his turn. Big talkers waste time and hurt others.

Diligence Opposite to the Slack Hand

He who works diligently will get ahead in society. He will climb up the social ladder and get an executive position. Diligence is the usual path that leads to prosperity. The diligent one is on his way to the top, but the lazy one sinks into a slave job. There is no top job for him. This is due to his laziness. He does nothing and has no desire for anything. In order to still earn something, he has to offer himself for the least of chores.

In the kingdom of God it goes the same way. If we are diligent in the Lord’s work and work with our talents, we will be given authority over cities in the future. If we are lazy, we will get nothing and even have what we had taken away from us (Mt 25:14-30; Lk 19:11-27). We will reign with Christ if we serve Him now as subjects in His kingdom. Let us take to heart the exhortation to not be “lagging behind in diligence” (Rom 12:11).

A Good Word and to Ask For Advice

“Anxiety” can so engross a person that his heart is weighed down and that he goes his way dejected (Pro 12:25). His mind can no longer occupy itself with anything but that particular worry or concern. He cannot get free of it. When it has taken possession of his heart, it affects all his pursuits and thinking. His joy is gone. The future is bleak.

How encouraging, even rejoicing, then is “a good word”. It is not about all kinds of well-meaning advice to see things differently, because such a person cannot. The problems, the worries, remain. A good word is a word that shows compassion. It is a kind and not an admonishing word. It is saying something that the person needs to regain proper perspective and renew hope and confidence.

Barnabas was a man of consolation who encouraged others (Acts 4:36). If we can get to look above the difficulties to the Lord Jesus, worries come into a different perspective. We can then become joyful right through the worries because we then see Him Who said: “Do not be worried” (Mt 6:25-34). We may cast our worries and anxieties on Him, for He cares for us (1Pet 5:7; Psa 55:22).

The first line of Pro 12:26 can be translated in several ways. One translation that does justice to the contrast in the second line of verse is: “The righteous properly guides his neighbor”. The wicked do the opposite. They mislead themselves and others, leading them astray and down the wrong path. The general thrust is that the righteous give proper guidance, while the wicked bring trouble to themselves and others.

The Results of Laziness and Diligence

The first line of verse describes a person who starts something but does not finish it. The picture is that of a lazy man who has obtained a piece of game by deception but will not roast it, meaning he will not eat anything from it. Because of the contrast with the second line of verse, the lazy man seems to be someone who uses deception because he does not want be diligent. He is a sluggard. This prevents him from eating what he has obtained by deception.

Opposed to the lazy deceiver is the “man” of “diligence”. He is in possession of the most precious thing a man can have: his diligence. This is his most precious possession, for by it he can obtain everything he desires.

What Leads to Life and Not to Death

Those who enter righteousness by faith and strive to live righteously are on the way to eternal life. That “in [its] pathway there is no death” underscores that it is about eternal life. Death is completely absent from eternal life. It is a state of ‘immortality’, to which permanence and stability are attached.

Those who walk in the way of righteousness already partake of it. By walking the way of keeping the Word of God and doing what is right, death is avoided in its fullness and with all its terrors. Death is not a killjoy, for the life enjoyed in the way of righteousness is immune to death. He Who is this life has conquered death (Rev 1:17-18), so that “death is swallowed up in victory” (1Cor 15:54).

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

All rights reserved. No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

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