Bible: What Does Proverbs 11-12 Teach Us About Humility and the Differences Between the Righteous and the Wicked?
The Wisdom of Solomon
Proverbs 11-12: Humility; Contrasting the Righteous and the Wicked
Humility Necessary To Acquire Wisdom
To acquire wisdom, one must possess humility (v. 2). Humility knows that wealth cannot buy heaven; only righteousness saves you (v. 4; cf. 10:2).
In fact, Solomon speaks often of the value of righteousness in relation to "salvation" (vv. 5-6).
Again, the way you use your mouth (or do not use it) readily shows you what category you fall into—righteous or wicked.
When opportunities come to destroy someone's life or reputation verbally, the wise faithful man will say nothing, while the hypocrite will boldly blurt out what is on his mind (vv. 9, 11-13).
Before committing to a decision, it is wise to consult as many "sages'' as possible to ascertain the best and safest course of action (v. 14).
Again, Solomon advises against becoming surety for people one does not know; following his counsel may ensure one’s financial security (v. 15).
The Right Way and the Wrong Way
Verses 16-31 touch upon a variety of topics, but Solomon's thrust remains to provide a contrast between the right and the wrong way.
The right way seeks honor, goodness, righteousness, blamelessness, generosity, salvation for others, and reward, while the wrong path glories in riches, cruelty, deception, evil pursuits, perversity, indiscretion, greed, and stinginess.
Saints benefit their souls by what they do (v. 17); they are the LORD's delight (v. 20).
They see their children "saved" (v. 21b); they want only good things (v. 23a); they scatter their "seeds" widely, and are blessed (vv. 24a, 25, 26b, 28b, 31a).
On the other hand, the unsaved injure themselves, sometimes to death (vv. 17, 19), and will be punished by God's wrath (vv. 21a, 23b).
Poverty, curses, trouble, collapse, emptiness, and servitude constitute the lot of the wicked (vv. 24b, 26a, 27b, 28a, 29b).
[What one must keep in mind about these sayings is that seldom is life as black and white as they seem to paint it.
The righteous do not always prosper, and the wicked do not always end up in trouble.
Solomon’s observations are accurate and true—generally speaking. In the Old Testament, God blessed faithful Israelites with material possessions; such is not always the case in the Church.]
The Godly Wife
The Wife of Valor
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Solomon continues to show how the righteous and the wicked differ, explicitly contrasting one group with the other.
However, in some verses he only implies that a certain action, quality, or attitude characterizes a particular group. For instance:
(1) The lover of spiritual knowledge and moral instruction is the righteous, while he who hates reproof is normally the stupid wicked (v. 1).
(2) The excellent wife, usually belonging to a righteous household, strengthens her husband, but one who causes shame (oftentimes located among the unrighteous) brings deterioration to her spouse (v. 4).
(3) Wisdom and commendation go hand in hand (usually among the just), but the perverse among the unsaved receive hatred (v. 8).
(4) Worldlings often do not esteem highly the people of God, yet they heap all kinds of honors upon themselves (v. 9).
(5) Diligence in plowing belongs to the believer; frivolity characterizes the unbeliever (v. 11). Such circumstances should always hold true, but they do not.
Righteous and Wicked
Do you think there are more righteous people than wicked ones?
To expand the categories a little, the writer employs synonyms:
(6) Good, upright, prudent, wise, truthful, counselors of peace, and diligent are adjectives which pertain to the righteous; foolishness, lying, deceitfulness and sloth speak of the wicked character.
(7) God gives grace to the “good” man, but liars the LORD hates (vv. 2, 22).
(8) The diligent man prospers and rules well, but the frivolous, slothful fellow will suffer servitude and loss because he lacks understanding (vv. 11, 24, 27).
[What “vain things” does the lazy individual do?]
(9) He who is prudent knows when and how much to speak; a fool, however, explodes in anger, showing his inner character (vv. 16, 23).
Contrasting the Righteous and the Wicked
Most of the chapter's verses follow a familiar format: a direct contrast between the righteous and the wicked.
On the one hand, a wicked man's foundation for life is shaky and weak (vv. 3a, 7); his words are murderous (v. 6a), and even his mercies are cruel (v. 10). He covets (v. 12), lies (v. 13), and goes astray (v. 26).
On the other hand, the righteous puts down strong roots, and builds firm foundations (vv. 3b, 7), thinks right things (v. 5a), truly cares about his property (here, animals) [v. 10a], is fruitful (v. 12), perseveres (v. 13), is preserved (v. 21), and should show discernment (v. 26).
Godly Principles for Daily Living
Throughout this section, the author again heavily emphasizes the words, mouth, and lips of the respective groups or individuals (vv. 6, 13-14, 17-19, 22).
Various facets of life receive mention: marriage (v. 4), the treatment of farm animals (v. 10), agriculture (v. 11), and hunting (v. 27).
Solomon employed these proverbs in order to show the direct applicability of godly principles to the daily lives of his readers.
[Reading how the righteous should live elicits not a little introspection].
© 2013 glynch1