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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 12

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Verses 1-2

To Love Knowledge and Obtain Favor

Proverbs 12:1 is a good illustration of the fact that love is not about a pleasant emotion. To accept “discipline” is often not that simple. To accept discipline, you ought to love it. You do that when you realize its importance. It comes down to whether we are explicitly willing to accept discipline or that we don’t want to accept discipline. When we are willing to accept discipline, we will love discipline. It is a love that has to be learnt. The other case, to hate “reproof”, happens quite automatically. That’s how we are by nature.

He who wants to grow spiritually, must learn to accept “discipline” or correction and to learn from it. Therefore it is necessary for one to act freely as a pupil towards the one who is disciplining him. It shows the humble mind of someone who does not think highly of himself. The one who disciplines him, can be God Who speaks through His Word to him. God can also speak through a person, whosoever, or through an event.

“Whoever loves discipline”, which means that a person longs to be disciplined, shows that he loves “knowledge”. Discipline is linked to “knowledge”. It is about the knowledge of God and Christ, which is to know God’s will to live to His honor. In order to gain knowledge, it is necessary to make efforts by training. When it is about “the knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Lord” (Philippians 3:8), there can be no way that is too tough and no cost that 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 the verse begins with “but” which indicates that now the contrast follows to the first line of the verse. There are two contrasts: “hate” stands against love and “stupid” against knowledge. “He who hates reproof”, despicably refuses and rejects it, acts foolishly and stupid like an animal without sense. To hate means to have an aversion to something. That aversion comes from the arrogant heart that doesn’t want to know about reproof. Whoever hates reproof, shows the stupidity of an animal that does not realize that it is in his interest when it is being hurt.

“A good man” (Proverbs 12:2) is he who is good by the grace of God, for “there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:12). “None is good, but one: God”, which is the Lord Jesus (Mark 10:18). He who has Him as his life, can also be good and therefore can also do good. A good man is full of goodness, which is only to be worked by God’s Spirit. Goodness is a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

A good man wants only what God, the good One, wants and what is expressed by the Spirit. That delivers him “the favor from the LORD”. God relates Himself to him, for he recognizes Himself in him. There is harmony between the good man and the good One. This applies to each believer who walks with God. It applies to Christ above all. He is the perfect good Man and also the perfect good God. As Man He obtained God’s favor.

The opposite of the man who is full of goodness, stands the man “who devises evil”. In such a person there is no goodness; he has no life from God. He acts after his sinful nature, which appears from the ways he devises to harm other people. Such a person does not obtain the favor of God, but a declaration of guilt. Here we see that not only a sinful deed makes a person guilty before God, but also devising evil. Absalom was a man full of evil ideas, who sought to dethrone his father David, to seize the power to rule (2 Samuel 15:2-Joshua :).

Verse 3

Not Established – Not Moved

In wickedness there is no stability. This applies to both the society and to individuals. It is said here in the most general sense, “a man will not”. Nobody, no evil man, whoever he is, will obtain stability in whatever he may do. Wickedness means apart from God, without asking for His will by consulting His Word. People like Abimelech and Ahab disrupted the society in the days of their government and did not remain.

Only the righteous have stability in life because of righteousness. The righteous have no stability by themselves, but they “will not be moved” because they are rooted in Christ (Ephesians 3:17), in His Word (Colossians 2:7). The life of the righteous may severely be shaken in such a way that they look to collapse, but their root, the principle on which their life is based, will not be moved. Wickedness does not remain, because there is no root in it which is in Christ.

Verse 4

An Excellent Wife

“An excellent wife” is a ‘capable’, ‘courageous’, ‘firm’ woman, a woman who knows her task and executes it with satisfaction. Through her act she increases the dignity of her husband. She is his “crown”, his fame, an adornment of honor. When he says something and the people know whom and how his wife is, it empowers his words. This valuable contribution is what the wife delivers, because she meets God’s purpose with her, which is to be a helper to her husband.

It is always good to know, if a servant of the Lord is married, to know how his wife is, to know who the wife is behind the husband. Boaz says to Ruth that everyone knows that she is “a woman of excellence” is (Ruth 3:11). Every married woman can be an excellent wife by being as God has intended her to be (cf. Proverbs 31:10).

The opposite of a wife who is “the crown of her husband”, is the wife who “shames” her husband. It is not said how she shames him, but we may think for example of an irresponsible pattern of expenditure, the negligence of her children and house management, too much talking, immoral behavior. She does not support her husband by her behavior, but makes him powerless in his testimony. “Rottenness in his bones” means that what is supposed to give him strength to walk, is rotting away from the inside, which makes him powerless. Bones give firmness and structure to life. A wrong wife destroys that. She is like the worm in the timber that destroys the timber.

Verses 5-7

The Righteous Against the Wicked

In these verses with contrasts between the righteous and wicked, there is a climax. With the righteous it goes from their just thoughts in Proverbs 12:5 through the deliverance that they bring with their words in Proverbs 12:6 to their house that will stand in Proverbs 12:7. With the wicked it goes from their deceitful counsels in Proverbs 12:5 through their bloodthirsty words in Proverbs 12:6 to their overthrow in Proverbs 12:7.

Of every person who lives apart from God, “every intent of the thoughts of his heart” is “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5), but through repentance and new life one becomes righteous. Of all righteous men God has become the source of their thoughts. What they think, is directed in the new life by Him and His grace. Therefore it can be said that the thoughts of the righteous are “just” (Proverbs 12:5). God wants us to focus our mind on Him and Christ. That will make our thoughts just. This verse shows that the thoughts or intentions of good people are focused on what is right to God, to others and to themselves.

With the wicked the opposite is the case. Their “counsels are deceitful”. Their thoughts are only wicked. Therefore their counsels can only lead to evil. The cause of that is that they have no relation with God. They have a depraved heart and therefore nothing else than bitter water can come out of it (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19). While the righteous set their mind to do good to others, the wicked set their mind to do evil to others.

Nehemiah was such a righteous man. His enemies said about him that he “had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel” (Nehemiah 2:10). Also Mordecai and Esther sought the welfare of their people. It is a contrast to what Haman had come up with. Out of ‘patriotism’ he proposed to king Ahasuerus to kill the Jews (Esther 3:8-1 Samuel :). Herod had that very same spirit. He said that he wanted to worship the Child, while in reality he wanted to kill It (Matthew 2:8; Matthew 2:16). Ahithophel gave “good counsel” (2 Samuel 17:14) to Absalom how to eliminate his father David, so that he could take over the kingship (2Sam 16-17).

Words are the natural means to make known thoughts (Proverbs 12:6; Proverbs 12:5). “The words of the wicked” are like an ambush. The lively picture of “lying in wait for blood” means that the wicked express false accusations as a trap for the righteous. They act deliberately, not on a whim, and are children of their father, the devil, who is a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Many wicked witnesses have spoken words against the Lord Jesus, in order to have Him to be judged. They set traps for Him and wanted to catch Him in some of His words (Luke 20:20-Ecclesiastes :).

“The upright”, who have obtained knowledge and experience by discipline and teaching, are able to avoid the traps of the wicked. They do not only avoid words that cause blood, but use the power of the word to deliver those who are captured by the words of the wicked. Mordecai interceded with Esther and Esther interceded with the king, in order to deliver the Jews from Haman’s guile to exterminate the Jews (Esther 4:7-2 Chronicles :; Esther 7:4-Joshua :).

As the perfect Righteous One, the Lord Jesus had shamed His adversaries again and again by His wise answers. They have lied in wait for His blood, but could never catch Him in any of His words. Finally, they were able to kill Him because He surrendered Himself to them, according to the will of God. Only then they could do with Him what they wanted: to shed His blood.

The wicked seek to do evil to others, while the upright seek to deliver others from evil. The latter are led by the Holy Spirit, Who works life. They speak from the new life and in that way show that Christ is their life. When they get killed because of their testimony, they will be delivered from eternal death because of the testimony from their mouth. They are justified by their words (Matthew 12:37).

After the thoughts of Proverbs 12:5 and the words of Proverbs 12:6, we see in Proverbs 12:7 the end of the wicked and the righteous. It is the contrast between what disappears and what remains. The wicked disappear because God overthrows them with power. Whatever powerful empire they may have built up and give the impression that nothing and nobody can threaten them, they have built their whole existence on a sandy land.

The picture of the fate of the wicked, that they are “overthrown”, radiates power. It means a complete destruction, which reminds us of what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:25). The wicked will disappear from the world stage, without leaving anything behind which has value.

In contrast to that “the house of the righteous will stand”. The house includes the family, as we read that Noah and his household were saved (Hebrews 11:7). The household means the descendants. The household of the righteous will remain, because its foundation is Christ, the Rock. That’s why it will remain in times of distress, which means that it will always remain. It shows the permanent result of righteousness towards the short stay on earth of the wicked (Matthew 7:24-Daniel :).

“The house of the righteous” also reminds us of the house of Israel in the future. That house will consist of only righteous men (Isaiah 60:21), for it is formed by a remnant of believers from Israel. This remnant is shaped and protected by God during the great tribulation. To those, who are the new Israel, God fulfills His promise. Their house will remain during the millennial kingdom of peace. The wicked are the apostate mass of the Jews that together with the antichrist will be overthrown at the end of the great tribulation and will disappear from the world stage forever.

Verse 8

To Harvest Praise or Despise

The term for “insight” refers to the ability to think clearly. From this saying the appreciation for thinking clearly, appears. It is not about intelligence here. At birth everyone receives a certain extent of understanding in the sense of intelligence. Concerning that, God says in His Word about all men, that they are “darkened in their understanding” (Ephesians 4:18) and there is no one who understands (Romans 3:11). The understanding which is meant here, is the mind that one receives when he converts and receives new life. Then he receives the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

The believer has received “the understanding” by which he knows “Him Who is true” (1 John 5:20). Practically, it means that one can learn to know God and Christ better by this new understanding or insight. That is open for every believer, regardless of the degree of intelligence. “According to” his insight of knowing Him, and by showing that in words and deeds, he will be “praised”. Men will notice the beneficial effect, although they inwardly may remain hostile towards the gospel. The Lord Jesus was praised for His words and deeds, although it did not lead to a national conversion, but the people even rejected and killed Him finally.

But “one of perverse mind” lacks the ability to see things like they really are. He is turning against God and Christ and God’s people. Of perverse mind means a mind that is deviated, crooked and corrupt. It has turned away from God’s Word. One of perverse mind does not necessarily lack a logical thinking. He can even be extremely intelligent. It is about, so to speak, the nature of tendency. Because he is of perverse mind, he makes bad choices. That’s what makes him to burden himself with the despising of his neighbor. Abimelech was such one of perverse heart (Jdg 9).

Verses 9-11

Humility, Care and Diligence

He who is satisfied in humbleness with what he has, is better than the boaster who is hungry (Proverbs 12:9). Here it is about the nice appearance that one can keep up, while he in reality is miserable. It can be a person who has become destitute, but wants to keep up appearances to the outside world at all cost. Some people make a hollow show of their life. They pretend to be important people. Simon the magician said about himself “that he was a great man” (Acts 8:9).

The lesson is that, with the little convenience that we have, we should be satisfied – having a servant is indeed comfortable, isn’t it? It is first of all about the mind of humility, about esteeming ourselves lightly. However, he who wants to live in luxury and provides himself with every convenience and therefore gets into debts, while he cannot even cover the basic needs of his family, is a fool. A caravan on credit will not fill your stomach.

This verse is a warning against keeping up appearances and bragging. God regards the lowly “but the haughty He knows from afar” (Psalms 138:6). The haughtiness of life “is not from the Father, but from the world” (1 John 2:16). God is near the humble one. He dwells with him, He feels as it were at home there, just as in heaven (Isaiah 57:15). But there is an enormous distance between Him and the haughty one, whom He sees in a distance.

Just as God takes care of the animals, for example the sparrows (Matthew 10:28-Obadiah :; Psalms 147:9; Psalms 36:6), so the righteous does also (Proverbs 12:10). The reason why God draws our attention to His care for the animals is to show us that His care for man is still much greater than that for animals. The Lord Jesus says, after He has spoken about God’s care for the ravens: “How much more valuable you are than the birds!” (Luke 12:24).

We are to consider this in a time in which people do everything to give animals a ‘human existence’, while they kill babies in their mother’s wombs. This kind of ‘compassion’ characterizes the wicked, while they are ruthless towards the most defenseless there is. The so-called compassion of a wicked animal rights activist. That appears from his destruction of properties or even the lives of those whom in his eyes have wrongly dealt with animals, which he justifies by his claim to defend the rights of the animal.

That does not change the fact that God also takes care of animals. Compassion for animals shows one’s character. It indeed is about “his animals”, thus his own animals, and not about the well-being of animals in a general sense. It is even less a call for starting a group, in order to give animals ‘a voice’. What we are to become aware of is what we have in common with the animals, and that is that we and they are made by the same Creator. Animals are fellow creatures of man and that should determine our attitude towards them. God has for example ordained a day of rest for man, but thereby he also has it recorded that also animals are to rest on that day (Exodus 20:8-1 Kings :).

Animals are given to man to serve him and also for food, and not to misuse them. The righteous does not only take care of his animals, but he “has regard for the life of his animals”. He will take into account what an animal may need (Genesis 24:32; Genesis 33:13-2 Chronicles :). When a beast of burden succumbs, even if the animal is the property of an enemy, we are supposed to help it (Exodus 23:5). If God saves Nineveh, He takes into account the animals as well (John 4:11). The righteous will feed the animal when it works (cf. Deuteronomy 25:4). In this all he shows the likeness with God Who also takes care of His creation with the perfect knowledge which characterizes Him, by which He knows what each creature is able to do and needs.

The intention of the verse is to point out that the righteous is beneficial to everyone, even to his animals, how much more than to his neighbor. In contrast to that is the cruelty of the wicked, even towards men, his neighbors. In his innermost being there is no compassion, but his inner man has been hardened.

To till the land or the field (Proverbs 12:11) is not a result of the fall, but is an order given by God to Adam, which dates from before the fall (Genesis 2:15). After the fall the order to work still remained, even though it became heavier (Genesis 3:19; Isaiah 28:23-Ezekiel :). What also has remained, is the promise that it pays to work. There is a reward for the tilling of the land in the form of bread. He who acknowledges that and makes it a reason to work, will have plenty of bread.

This principle also applies to the work that we do for the Lord. We are called to always abound in the work for the Lord and we may know that it is not in vain, but it will be rewarded (1 Corinthians 15:58). Each believer has a piece of ‘land’ to till (2 Corinthians 10:13). If he has a family, then his family is that ‘land’ in the first place. He will have to pay attention first to his family and invest time in it. Also in the church there is work to be done. He who carries out his tasks faithfully, will be rewarded by the Lord.

In contrast to the tilling of the land, stands the pursuing of “worthless things”. Those who do that are pursuing ‘idle things’ or ‘empty things’, in other words fantasies or dreams. Whoever likes to join such people, proves that he is ‘work-shy’. The company of the pursuers of worthless things consists of empty heads, heads that “lack sense”. They do not pay attention to God and His Word. God has said that whoever is not willing to work, is not to eat either (2 Thessalonians 3:10-2 Kings :). Those who pursue worthless things will surely experience that to their own shame.

Verses 12-14

Fruit and Escape

“The wicked man” has desires (Proverbs 12:12). Those desires form a booty in which evil is caught and captivated. With the wicked the antichrist is mainly meant, for he is the personification of the evil. Everything that he desires is evil. There is no good in that man. He is a captive of the evil, he cannot get liberated from it, and he himself keeps the evil captured, he does not want to let it go. Everyone who follows him shows the same characteristic.

The evil is being committed and the victims or the stolen goods are enclosed by him in his “booty”. Death and destruction are the results of his work, for both his victims and him personally, for he will be killed in the evil in which he is captured.

In contrast to the wicked desires of the wicked, stands “the root of the righteous” with a corresponding fruit. To bear fruit is not an activity, but a result of the root which is in the good soil and which receives good nourishment. The righteous are rooted in Christ (Colossians 2:6-Judges :). The Lord Jesus says that whoever abides in Him and in who He is, will bear much fruit (John 15:5). Therefore it is about having a living relationship with Christ.

“The transgression of his lips” happens when ill-considered statements are made and also certainly when lies are being told deliberately (Proverbs 12:13). Then he “will be ensnared” by what he has said. Whoever transgresses in what his lips say, runs the risk to be judged by it. Sometimes a politician tries to refine his statements by a stream of words. It can happen that it is not convincing enough and that he then has to resign. The lie of an Amalekite towards David about the death of Saul became his death, while he thought that he would get a reward (2 Samuel 4:9-2 Kings :).

“The righteous” will not get into trouble by what he says. He knows what and what not he is to say. That will make him escape “from trouble”. He does not have to talk his way out of things or to justify himself. What he says is in accordance with the truth. Therefore it is not possible to catch him in his talk.

The language of the righteous is compared with “the fruit of his words” (Proverbs 12:14). Whoever speaks the truth in love in his language use will be “satisfied with good”. Good language gives a great satisfaction. God has given man a mouth, so that it would bring forth fruit for Him, meaning praise, “the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). God responds to that and satisfies that heart for bringing forth that fruit.

There will also be blessing or good in a general sense for a person who is wise and sensible in a conversation, while he is honoring God. A good advice, a sound lesson which is being passed on, is a fruit of the mouth. The mouth is compared here with a tree which brings forth fruit. Fruit assumes growth, beauty and the ability to satisfy others. Fruit requires to be eaten. Words can be eaten (Jeremiah 15:16).

Timothy was nourished on “the words of the faith and the sound doctrine” which he had been following (1 Timothy 4:6). Therefore he was able to pass it on as the fruit of his lips. Joshua and Caleb had spoken good words about the land and were “satisfied with good”.

Verses 15-16

The Wise and the Prudent and the Fool

The fool has such an attitude that he trusts in himself alone (Proverbs 12:15). He himself determines his way which is of course totally right in his eyes. He follows his own way and shall surely not listen to advice. “The way of the fool” is characterized by hastily made actions. He continues with these actions, despite the good counsel that he should not to do it. Even if he should think about a certain way for a long time and had considered all arguments for and against, it will still be a hasty decision, for he refuses every counsel. He thinks highly of himself and his intellect. That is the essence of foolishness. God means nothing to him, as for him He doesn’t exist (Psalms 14:1).

People show their maturity or immaturity by how they respond to advice. A right-thinking man, meaning a wise man, will recognize and accept good counsel, even if he himself often gives counsel to others. Counsel is an application of wisdom and knowledge in a specific situation, based on a sharp observation or a well-considered opinion, whereby also the opinion of others is involved.

One of the names of the Lord Jesus is “Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6). It is of the utmost importance to listen to His counsel. He gives that counsel in His Word. We would do well to seek the advice of Godly people or to listen to their advice even when we haven’t asked them for advice. David listened to the right counsel of Abigail and saved himself from killing Nabal when he was on his way to him (1Sam 25).

The fool reveals himself as a fool by his anger, which “is known at once”, which means that he immediately gets furious (Proverbs 12:16; cf. Ecclesiastes 7:9). He is always quick-tempered and convinced of his own right. When he is contradicted, he responds as if he has been stung by a wasp. He has a short fuse and explodes instantly. He lacks sensitivity and discretion. Thereby his shame is revealed. An explosion of anger doesn’t harvest admiration, but despising. Saul’s moments of fury were to his shame.

He who is prudent, controls himself and in that way conceals dishonor; he does not expose himself to that. He is able to deal with criticism without responding instinctively and irrationally. It is not so much that the prudent man suppresses his anger or emotions, but that he deals with it in discretion and keeps it to himself. He knows himself and knows that he can be mistaken. He will, in case he is contradicted, consider the matter once more and not respond impulsively. We see here self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23).

Verses 17-20

Speaking Happens From the Heart

When a person “speaks truth” (Proverbs 12:17), words which come from his mouth, are specific to the Divine nature that he has. He cannot help but speak only “what is right”. Truth leads to what is right. Right can only be called right if it comes forth from the truth. In view of the contrast to the second line of the verse, where it is about “a false witness”, we may think of a trial. But it can also be applied more widely.

The sincere or truthful witness is faithful because he tells the truth. He gives the right view of the matter. He who brings forth the truth, will not change the right, but will proclaim it.

A false witness violates the truth. He commits “deceit” regarding the facts. He lies about them. We can all make mistakes sometimes in rendering certain facts. But deceit is when a person deliberately gives another idea of the matters as a witness than what is in accordance with the truth.

The Lord Jesus always brought forth truth and in that way told what was right. He also had to do with false witnesses. The one stirs up the other. He who does not want to bow to the truth, will lie against and about the truth.

In Proverbs 12:17 it is about one’s character, what inspires him and what he says as a result of that. What we say, makes clear who we are. To speak truth means that it comes from the inside. John the baptist spoke the truth of God about marriage, by telling Herod about God’s righteousness regarding his improper relationship with the wife of his brother (Mark 6:18).

Words can be like “the thrusts of a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). Words that are spoken rashly (Leviticus 5:4; Numbers 30:6), can hurt someone in his soul. These are words that wound and hurt (cf. Psalms 57:4; Psalms 59:7; Psalms 64:3). The enemies of Jeremiah said that they wanted to “strike at him with their tongue” (Jeremiah 18:18). The friends of Job have spoken many true words to Job, but those were words like the thrusts of a sword. And what about the awful insinuations, stated by the Jews against the Lord Jesus, that He was born of fornication (John 8:41). What an awful sword-thrust! And what a calm, steady and prudent response the Lord gave. Their sword-thrust made clear that the devil was their father and that’s what the Lord therefore says to them (John 8:44).

A person can be destroyed by words in a way that life is made impossible for him to live. Many people know the stabbing pain of false, unfriendly, insensitive remarks about their own person or about a loved one. We should also consider that we have sometimes done that ourselves, probably not deliberately.

The opposite brings healing by what the wise say. Of ourselves we have no “tongue of the wise”. We actually can get it by learning from the Lord Jesus, for He had such a tongue. He learnt to speak as a wise man and He is therein an example for us. From Him we can learn how to speak (Isaiah 50:4). Then our words will bring healing, for then we are faithful and truthful. We will speak softly and tenderly, uplifting and encouraging to those who are the target of slander.

Barnabas had a tongue of the wise. He spoke soothing words to the church in Jerusalem about Paul (Acts 9:27). The tongue should be a healing instrument, for both wounded heart of individuals and critical conditions in churches. That happens when a good word is spoken, a word that edifies and gives grace to those who hear it (Ephesians 4:29). Also a word of admonition can have that effect when it is addressed to the right person at the right time and with the right mind.

“Truthful lips”, truthfulness, survives all lies, always, and will never die (Proverbs 12:19). Truth is from God. God is the God of the truth. Therefore truth is related to eternity. What is said in truth can never be annihilated. Every attack on the truth, every resistance against the truth, can in no way ever undo the truth.

That is different with “the false lips”, the lie. That may be as old as the devil; it still is and will remain a temporal intruder. Lies can exert a certain power and maintain themselves only for a certain time. It is “only for a moment”. This expression indicates that it is for no longer than the duration of a wink. It is so short, that the duration of time is not to be calculated (cf. Job 20:5). The life of those who speak with false lips is of short duration compared to eternity that’s awaiting. All false teachers will experience that. Their lie will disappear, while the truth remains.

Every believer should have truthful lips. Then he will speak the truth, which lasts forever. Lips represent here the person who uses them.

The contrast in Proverbs 12:20 is between “devising evil” and “counseling peace” and both cases refer to the consequences. Because there is deceit “in the heart” the heart is a forge of evil. Evil flows from deceit. The result of devising evil is only sorrow and hardship. “Evil” here implies the idea of pain.

In contrast to that stand “those who are counselors of peace”. Peace, shalom, does not cause pain, but works wholeness and well-being, for both an individual and a community (Psalms 34:14; Psalms 37:37). Those who are counselors of peace will reap inner satisfaction of doing what is good, as well as the pleasure of seeing positive results.

The difference between truth and lie is the difference between peace and war. All wars come forth from a lie, except the wars of God. The lie came into existence when satan declared war on God.

Verse 21

No Harm Befalls the Righteous

In this verse it is about the contrast between “the righteous” and “the wicked” with regard to harm and trouble. That “no harm” will befall “the righteous”, means that harm will not cause him to perish indefinitely. The harm of hell will in no way strike him because Christ bore the punishment for his sins. He has become righteous and lives righteously.

It does not mean that he will never get ill or experience troubles. We see that with a man like Job who was a righteous man. His friends actually explain as such the troubles Job is going through. Job must, according to their judgment, be a wicked person, in view of the troubles he is filled with. The end of the book of Job shows us that God justifies Job towards his friends and doubled his possession that was taken away from him. It is about the good that God has in mind for the righteous (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28; Romans 8:35-Malachi :). It is God Who has the last word, not the harm.

With the wicked it is conversely. They can have a prosperous life, but in their prosperity there is totally no protection against trouble. Protection is only to be found with Christ, but they do not want Him. Therefore they will finally be “filled with trouble”, without any possibility for recovery, let alone for receiving any double blessing. They will have to bear the full consequences of their sinful life in eternity.

Verses 22-23

To Deal and Speak Faithfully

“Lying lips” continually speak lies (Proverbs 12:22). That can happen by telling lies about everyday issues. It can also happen by proclaiming false doctrines, like the roman church does by worshiping Mary. Telling a lie pretending it is the truth is “an abomination to the LORD”. It is in direct contradiction to His nature as the God of the truth. To speak lies is abusing the ability to speak given by God.

In contrast to lying lips, stand those who “deal faithfully”. They “are His delight”, which is in contrast to what is an abomination to Him. He has no fellowship in any way with what is an abomination to Him. He delights in being related to those who deal faithfully. They not only speak the truth, but they do the truth, they practice it. Words and deeds, and doctrine and life, agree with one another. Whoever deals faithfully shows the features of God’s Son in Whom all God’s delight is.

“A prudent man” conceals “knowledge” (Proverbs 12:23). The verb ‘conceal’ does not mean that he never speaks, but that he deals carefully and in discretion with his words. He will not speak to show off his knowledge or to avenge the injustice that has been done to him. He has self-control to speak the right word at the right time in the right situation (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Elihu was able to wait for his turn (Job 32). Mary treasured in her heart what the angel had told her (Luke 2:19). Joseph waited for the right moment to make himself known to his brothers (Genesis 42:7).

Conversely, in “the heart of fools” there is folly, which they cannot keep for themselves, but shout it out (Ecclesiastes 10:3). The fool speaks all the time and brags about all kinds of subjects, not hindered by the least knowledge of the subject. It is impossible to have a constructive conversation with him. He cannot listen, even less awaiting his turn. People who talk too much waste time and hurt other people.

Verse 24

Diligence Opposite to the Slack Hand

He who diligently works, will prosper in the society. He will increase his status and receive a staff position. Diligence is the common way which leads to prosperity. The diligent man is on his way to the top, but the slack falls away to become a servant. He has no part in a staff management. He owes that to his slack hand. He is doing nothing and he doesn’t want to do anything. In order to still earn some money, he has to offer himself for the lowest jobs.

In the kingdom of God it is similar. When we are diligent in the work of the Lord and we work with our talents, we will receive authority over cities in the future. When we are lazy, we will receive nothing and even what we have, will be taken away from us (Matthew 25:14-Amos :; Luke 19:11-Daniel :). We shall reign together with Christ if we serve Him now as subordinates in His kingdom. Let us take the exhortation to heart “not lagging behind in diligence” (Romans 12:11).

Verses 25-26

A Good Word and to Ask For Advice

“Anxiety” can control a person in such a way that his heart is burdened and weighed down (Proverbs 12:25). His spirit cannot handle anything else than that certain concern or concerns. He cannot let it be. When it has captured his heart, it influences all his engagements and thinking. It takes away all his joy. The future looks gloomy.

How encouraging “a good word” can then be, it can even make him glad. It is not about all kinds of well-intentioned counsels, in order to change one’s view, for such a person is not able to. The problems, the concerns, remain. A good word is a word that shows compassion. It is a gentle and not an admonishing word. It is saying something that the person needs to get the right perspective back and to renew hope and confidence.

Barnabas was a man of comfort, who comforted others (Acts 4:36). If we manage to look upon the Lord Jesus above the difficulties, worries come into another perspective. We even can become happy, right through the worries, because we then see Him Who said: “Do not be worried” (Matthew 6:25-Nahum :). We may cast our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7; Psalms 55:22).

The first line of Proverbs 12:26 is made clear by the contrast with the second line of the verse. The wicked do the opposite of “the righteous” who “is a guide to his neighbor.” The wicked mislead themselves and others, which causes them to go astray and end up on the wrong path. The general application is that the righteous gives good instructions, while the wicked bring themselves and others into trouble.

Verse 27

The Results of Laziness and Diligence

The first line of the verse describes a man who starts with something, but does not finish it. The picture is that of “a lazy man” who came into the possession of “his prey”, but does “not roast” it, which means that he will not eat anything of it. Through the contrast with the second line of the verse the lazy man seems to be someone who uses deceit because he does not want to make any effort. He is a lazy man. That hinders him to eat what he has got by deceit.

The opposite of the lazy deceiver is a ‘diligent man’. He possesses the most precious thing that a man can have, which is his diligence. This is his most precious property, for this enables him to get everything he desires.

Verse 28

What Leads to Life and Not to Death

Those who enter into righteousness by faith and pursue a virtuous life, are on the way to eternal life. That in this pathway “there is no death” underlines that it is about eternal life. Death is totally absent in eternal life. It is a state of ‘immortality’, to which durability and stability are related.

Those who walk in the way of righteousness now already partake of that. By going the way of maintaining God’s Word and doing what is right, death in its full extent and with all its terrors is being avoided. Death is not a cross-beam, for life which is enjoyed on the pathway of righteousness is immune to death. He Who is this life, has defeated death (Revelation 1:17-Job :), so that “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Proverbs 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/proverbs-12.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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