Category Archives: Proverbs

Proverbs 25

pr25.jpgGreetings!

More Proverbs of Solomon

25     These are more proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;

to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,

so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.

4 Remove the dross from the silver,

and out comes material for the silversmith;

5 remove the wicked from the king’s presence,

and his throne will be established through righteousness.

6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,

and do not claim a place among great men;

7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”

than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.

What you have seen with your eyes

8 do not bring hastily to court,

for what will you do in the end

if your neighbor puts you to shame?

9 If you argue your case with a neighbor,

do not betray another man’s confidence,

10 or he who hears it may shame you

and you will never lose your bad reputation.

11 A word aptly spoken

is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold

is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.

That is easy advice to give but tough to take.  Yet if I get wise criticism from others I am hurting myself to ignore it.  I find that it is easier to take “criticism” when reading it in books or the Bible, as it is less personal then.  I don’t get as defensive because I don’t have another human there to see my immediate reactions.

13 Like the coolness of snow at harvest time

is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him;

he refreshes the spirit of his masters.

14 Like clouds and wind without rain

is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.

15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,

and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

16 If you find honey, eat just enough—

too much of it, and you will vomit.

17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—

too much of you, and he will hate you.

18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow

is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor.

19 Like a bad tooth or a lame foot

is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.

God puts a high priority on honesty in regular life and in court.  Having a trusted friend is of great value.

20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,

or like vinegar poured on soda,

is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;

if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,

and the Lord will reward you.

This advice runs counter to what the world will tell you.  Christianity (and at this time, Judaism) turns the world upside down, which is really to say it puts it back the way God intended it.

23 As a north wind brings rain,

so a sly tongue brings angry looks.

24 Better to live on a corner of the roof

than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

People usually chuckle at that verse but consider its truth.  You could marry an extremely attractive person, but how wise is that if they treat you poorly or are unfaithful? 

25 Like cold water to a weary soul

is good news from a distant land.

26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well

is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.

27 It is not good to eat too much honey,

nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor.

28 Like a city whose walls are broken down

is a man who lacks self-control.

Self control is a key success factor in life.  You’ll do and say far fewer stupid things which cause pain for yourself and others.  And seeking glory for ourselves usually turns out badly.

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 24

pr24.gifGreetings!  I always enjoy coming back to the Proverbs.

24     Do not envy wicked men,

do not desire their company;

2 for their hearts plot violence,

and their lips talk about making trouble.

 How many times do we envy those who mock God?  We shouldn’t envy anyone, let alone people who are unsaved. 

3 By wisdom a house is built,

and through understanding it is established;

4 through knowledge its rooms are filled

with rare and beautiful treasures.

5 A wise man has great power,

and a man of knowledge increases strength;

6 for waging war you need guidance,

and for victory many advisers.

I have erred many times by not asking advice from others, probably because I didn’t want to hear what they had to say.  But I would have been better off in the long run by listening to them.

7 Wisdom is too high for a fool;

in the assembly at the gate he has nothing to say.

8 He who plots evil

will be known as a schemer.

9 The schemes of folly are sin,

and men detest a mocker.

10 If you falter in times of trouble,

how small is your strength!

11 Rescue those being led away to death;

hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”

does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who guards your life know it?

Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good;

honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.

14 Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul;

if you find it, there is a future hope for you,

and your hope will not be cut off.

15 Do not lie in wait like an outlaw against a righteous man’s house,

do not raid his dwelling place;

16 for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again,

but the wicked are brought down by calamity.

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;

when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,

18 or the Lord will see and disapprove

and turn his wrath away from him.

19 Do not fret because of evil men

or be envious of the wicked,

20 for the evil man has no future hope,

and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

If we keep an eternal perspective we won’t be as troubled by evil people today.

21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son,

and do not join with the rebellious,

22 for those two will send sudden destruction upon them,

and who knows what calamities they can bring?

Further Sayings of the Wise 23 These also are sayings of the wise:

To show partiality in judging is not good:

24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent”—

peoples will curse him and nations denounce him.

25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,

and rich blessing will come upon them.

Sometimes people just think of justice as the innocent being set free, but God also loves when justice is done to those who are guilty.

26 An honest answer

is like a kiss on the lips.

Sometimes we are tempted to tell friends what they want to hear instead of the truth, but the honest answers always work out best. 

27 Finish your outdoor work

and get your fields ready;

after that, build your house.

28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause,

or use your lips to deceive.

29 Do not say, “I’ll do to him as he has done to me;

I’ll pay that man back for what he did.”

30 I went past the field of the sluggard,

past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;

31 thorns had come up everywhere,

the ground was covered with weeds,

and the stone wall was in ruins.

32 I applied my heart to what I observed

and learned a lesson from what I saw:

33 A little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands to rest—

34 and poverty will come on you like a bandit

and scarcity like an armed man.

Many people are poor through no fault of their own, but many more made bad decisions and are suffering the consequences. 

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 23

pr23.jpgGreetings!

23     When you sit to dine with a ruler,

note well what is before you,

2 and put a knife to your throat

if you are given to gluttony.

3 Do not crave his delicacies,

for that food is deceptive.

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;

have the wisdom to show restraint.

5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,

for they will surely sprout wings

and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Focusing on wealth is an addiction much like any other.  It consumes you and distracts you from what is real and important.  You can sacrifice your health to make money, then spend your wealth trying to recover your health.  Bad idea.  Or you can sacrifice your family to make money and never recover them.  All your money and all your success cannot buy your kids a second childhood.

6 Do not eat the food of a stingy man,

do not crave his delicacies;

7 for he is the kind of man

who is always thinking about the cost.

“Eat and drink,” he says to you,

but his heart is not with you.

8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten

and will have wasted your compliments.

9 Do not speak to a fool,

for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.

I should consider this more when blogging on my regular blog.  I’m better than I used to be about cutting off unproductive conversations, but debating people who refuse to move from foolish ideas is exhausting and generally a waste of time. 

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone

or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,

11 for their Defender is strong;

he will take up their case against you.

This is another way of saying, “Don’t steal.”  We should not take or covet what doesn’t belong to us.

12 Apply your heart to instruction

and your ears to words of knowledge.

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;

if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.

14 Punish him with the rod

and save his soul from death.

Despite the “children are born good” nonsense our culture teaches, the reality is that we are born sinners.  We need to drive sins out of our kids (even though they ultimately need Jesus to save and transform them).  We don’t have to do it physically, but for young children in certain situations (e.g., direct rebellion) it may be required.

15 My son, if your heart is wise,

then my heart will be glad;

16 my inmost being will rejoice

when your lips speak what is right.

Does it bring you joy when your children make wise decisions and speak well?  I know it does for me!

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,

but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.

18 There is surely a future hope for you,

and your hope will not be cut off.

19 Listen, my son, and be wise,

and keep your heart on the right path.

20 Do not join those who drink too much wine

or gorge themselves on meat,

21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,

and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,

and do not despise your mother when she is old.

23 Buy the truth and do not sell it;

get wisdom, discipline and understanding.

24 The father of a righteous man has great joy;

he who has a wise son delights in him.

25 May your father and mother be glad;

may she who gave you birth rejoice!

26 My son, give me your heart

and let your eyes keep to my ways,

27 for a prostitute is a deep pit

and a wayward wife is a narrow well.

28 Like a bandit she lies in wait,

and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?

Who has strife? Who has complaints?

Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?

30 Those who linger over wine,

who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,

when it sparkles in the cup,

when it goes down smoothly!

32 In the end it bites like a snake

and poisons like a viper.

33 Your eyes will see strange sights

and your mind imagine confusing things.

34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,

lying on top of the rigging.

35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!

They beat me, but I don’t feel it!

When will I wake up

so I can find another drink?”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The Bible doesn’t say you can never have alcohol.  It is quite clear that getting drunk is a sin, that we should obey laws (i.e., no under-aged drinking) and we shouldn’t tempt others with our drinking.

Proverbs 22

pr22.jpgGreetings!

22     A good name is more desirable than great riches;

to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

It is amazing and a bit scary how quickly you can lose a good name.  Even a lifetime of achievement and good works can be ruined with a careless decision. 

2 Rich and poor have this in common:

The Lord is the Maker of them all.

3 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge,

but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

I am writing this just a few days after Hurricane Ike hit Texas, so this was timely! 

4 Humility and the fear of the Lord

bring wealth and honor and life.

5 In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares,

but he who guards his soul stays far from them.

In the New Testament Paul says that “bad company corrupts good character.”  I didn’t believe this as a kid but looking back I see how true it is.  But it can impact adults as well.  We need to take the message of the Gospel out into the world, but our core should be a solid group of authentic Christians who hold us accountable. 

6 Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it.

That is a famous verse about parenting.  It typically seems to be interpreted as “teach your kids the right things, then they’ll go off and be wild, then they’ll return to God.”  I also heard an interesting interpretation that it was about looking at your child as an individual, with the emphasis on the “he” (i.e., Train a child in the way he should go . . .”

Regardless, it is clear that teaching God’s way is always the best way.

7 The rich rule over the poor,

and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Excessive debt has destroyed so many marriages and lives.  I highly encourage people to use ministries like Crown Financial or Dave Ramsey to learn good money management practices and get out of debt.  You can’t serve the Lord to your full potential if you are always stressed about debt and wasting money on interest payments.

8 He who sows wickedness reaps trouble,

and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.

9 A generous man will himself be blessed,

for he shares his food with the poor.

10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;

quarrels and insults are ended.

11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious

will have the king for his friend.

12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,

but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!”

or, “I will be murdered in the streets!”

14 The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit;

he who is under the Lord’s wrath will fall into it.

That is an interesting verse – it seems to say that the encounter with the adulteress is a punishment.

15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,

but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

Children are not born good.  They are cute, but selfish, prideful, covetous, etc.  They need to have bad habits driven from them. 

16 He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth

and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

Sayings of the Wise

17 Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise;

apply your heart to what I teach,

18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart

and have all of them ready on your lips.

19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,

I teach you today, even you.

20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,

sayings of counsel and knowledge,

21 teaching you true and reliable words,

so that you can give sound answers

to him who sent you?

22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor

and do not crush the needy in court,

23 for the Lord will take up their case

and will plunder those who plunder them.

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man,

do not associate with one easily angered,

25 or you may learn his ways

and get yourself ensnared.

26 Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge

or puts up security for debts;

27 if you lack the means to pay,

your very bed will be snatched from under you.

This is simple: Don’t co-sign loans for someone else unless you plan to pay the debt.  If the professional lenders think the person is a bad credit risk, who are you to disagree with them? 

28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone

set up by your forefathers.

29 Do you see a man skilled in his work?

He will serve before kings;

he will not serve before obscure men.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 21

pr21.jpgGreetings! 

21     The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord;

he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

This is contrasted to many cultures where they thought the king was god or on a par with him, as in the Roman Empire.

2 All a man’s ways seem right to him,

but the Lord weighs the heart.

God knows our motives, so even when we do “good” He knows if the motive was pride, self-promotion or some other selfish act.

3 To do what is right and just

is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart,

the lamp of the wicked, are sin!

5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit

as surely as haste leads to poverty.

Planning is a virtue.  The times when I rushed into financial things usually turned out poorly.

6 A fortune made by a lying tongue

is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.

7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away,

for they refuse to do what is right.

8 The way of the guilty is devious,

but the conduct of the innocent is upright.

9 Better to live on a corner of the roof

than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

That proverb is mentioned more than once (in v. 19 below and elsewhere), and it is a timeless bit of advice for those seeking to get married.  Appearance, money or power may attract you to someone, but you get to live with their character. 

10 The wicked man craves evil;

his neighbor gets no mercy from him.

11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom;

when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge.

12 The Righteous One takes note of

the house of the wicked

and brings the wicked to ruin.

13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,

he too will cry out and not be answered.

14 A gift given in secret soothes anger,

and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.

15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous

but terror to evildoers.

16 A man who strays from the path of understanding

comes to rest in the company of the dead.

17 He who loves pleasure will become poor;

whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,

and the unfaithful for the upright.

19 Better to live in a desert

than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

20 In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil,

but a foolish man devours all he has.

There is nothing wrong with prudent saving for the future.  Of course we should God our first and best, but He has also blessed us such that we can live within our means and save a reasonable amount for emergencies and retirement.

21 He who pursues righteousness and love

finds life, prosperity and honor.

22 A wise man attacks the city of the mighty

and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust.

23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue

keeps himself from calamity.

We can undo years of hard work and success with a few poor words, and damage relationships forever as well.

24 The proud and arrogant man—“Mocker” is his name;

he behaves with overweening pride.

25 The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him,

because his hands refuse to work.

26 All day long he craves for more,

but the righteous give without sparing.

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable—

how much more so when brought with evil intent!

28 A false witness will perish,

and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever.

29 A wicked man puts up a bold front,

but an upright man gives thought to his ways.

30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan

that can succeed against the Lord.

31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,

but victory rests with the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 20

pr20.jpgGreetings!  Back to the Proverbs today.  I always enjoy their timeless advice. 

20     Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;

whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Alcohol isn’t prohibited by scripture, but too much of them can indeed lead you astray.  Drunkedness is indeed a sin.  They distort our interpretation of the truth, which is an all-important success factor in life.  Once our view of the truth is distorted we may do all sorts of stupid and sinful things.

2 A king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion;

he who angers him forfeits his life.

3 It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife,

but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Knowing how to choose your battles requires wisdom and discernment.  Too many quarrels or the wrong kind of quarrels are foolish, but too few may mean we’re being wimpy.  Some things are worth fighting over.

4 A sluggard does not plow in season;

so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.

Deferred gratification is also a key success factor in life.  Whether it is working or studying we must think ahead.

5 The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters,

but a man of understanding draws them out.

6 Many a man claims to have unfailing love,

but a faithful man who can find?

7 The righteous man leads a blameless life;

blessed are his children after him.

8 When a king sits on his throne to judge,

he winnows out all evil with his eyes.

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure;

I am clean and without sin”?

No one can!  That is why we need Jesus, who took the punishment for our sins.  We can’t fix ourselves or forgive ourselves.  We need a Savior.

10 Differing weights and differing measures—

the Lord detests them both.

God cares about fairness in business. 

11 Even a child is known by his actions,

by whether his conduct is pure and right.

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—

the Lord has made them both.

13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor;

stay awake and you will have food to spare.

14 “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer;

then off he goes and boasts about his purchase.

15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance,

but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

16 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;

hold it in pledge if he does it for a wayward woman.

17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man,

but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

People can’t truly enjoy things they came by dishonestly.

18 Make plans by seeking advice;

if you wage war, obtain guidance.

19 A gossip betrays a confidence;

so avoid a man who talks too much.

20 If a man curses his father or mother,

his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.

21 An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning

will not be blessed at the end.

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”

Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

Revenge is such a powerful and consuming emotion.  Giving it over to God is the smartest thing to do. 

23 The Lord detests differing weights,

and dishonest scales do not please him.

24 A man’s steps are directed by the Lord.

How then can anyone understand his own way?

25 It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly

and only later to consider his vows.

26 A wise king winnows out the wicked;

he drives the threshing wheel over them.

27 The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man;

it searches out his inmost being.

We can’t hide anything from God: Actions, words and even thoughts.  That should be sobering to everyone.

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;

through love his throne is made secure.

29 The glory of young men is their strength,

gray hair the splendor of the old.

30 Blows and wounds cleanse away evil,

and beatings purge the inmost being.

[1]

[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 19

pr19.jpgGreetings!

19     Better a poor man whose walk is blameless

than a fool whose lips are perverse.

2 It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,

nor to be hasty and miss the way.

People often think that zeal is a bad thing, as in, “He’s so zealous!”  But done in the right way zeal is good.  We must be zealous with knowledge.  That is a good lesson for new Christians especially.  Also consider Galatians 4:18, where Paul says, “It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.”  I wrote more on zeal here.

3 A man’s own folly ruins his life,

yet his heart rages against the Lord.

Sadly, our sins and rebellion not only keep us from God but they don’t even benefit us in this life.  They destroy us and our families, which is why God warned us from them in the first place!  The world tells the lie that sin is fun.

4 Wealth brings many friends,

but a poor man’s friend deserts him.

5 A false witness will not go unpunished,

and he who pours out lies will not go free.

6 Many curry favor with a ruler,

and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts.

7 A poor man is shunned by all his relatives—

how much more do his friends avoid him!

Though he pursues them with pleading,

they are nowhere to be found.

This isn’t the way it is supposed to be, just a description of reality.  You know your true friends when they are there in tough times.  And you are a true friend when you’re there for your friends when others abandon them.

8 He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;

he who cherishes understanding prospers.

9 A false witness will not go unpunished,

and he who pours out lies will perish.

10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—

how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!

11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience;

it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

This is similar to v. 5.  God loves justice.  He doesn’t want the innocent punished or the guilty spared.

12 A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion,

but his favor is like dew on the grass.

13 A foolish son is his father’s ruin,

and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.

14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,

but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

15 Laziness brings on deep sleep,

and the shiftless man goes hungry.

16 He who obeys instructions guards his life,

but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die.

Pride often keeps us from learning from others. 

17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,

and he will reward him for what he has done.

As Matthew 25 teaches, whatever we do or don’t do for the needy is what we do or don’t do for Jesus.

18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope;

do not be a willing party to his death.

What a strong warning!  Failing to discipline your child is extremely unloving.

19 A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty;

if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

20 Listen to advice and accept instruction,

and in the end you will be wise.

21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart,

but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

22 What a man desires is unfailing love;

better to be poor than a liar.

23 The fear of the Lord leads to life:

Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

24 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;

he will not even bring it back to his mouth!

25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;

rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge.

26 He who robs his father and drives out his mother

is a son who brings shame and disgrace.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,

and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,

and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.

29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,

and beatings for the backs of fools.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 18

pr18.jpgGreetings! 

18     An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends;

he defies all sound judgment.

2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding

but delights in airing his own opinions.

I am frequently reminded of the importance to think first, then talk (or write).

3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt,

and with shame comes disgrace.

4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters,

but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked

or to deprive the innocent of justice.

As God’s word shows many times, justice applies to both the innocent and the guilty. 

6 A fool’s lips bring him strife,

and his mouth invites a beating.

7 A fool’s mouth is his undoing,

and his lips are a snare to his soul.

8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;

they go down to a man’s inmost parts.

I have gotten much better about avoiding gossip and being careful  not to start it.  I stop it when I can by asking pointed questions about the sources, accuracy and importance of the information offered. 

9 One who is slack in his work

is brother to one who destroys.

10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

the righteous run to it and are safe.

11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;

they imagine it an unscalable wall.

Most of you reading this may not feel rich, but you are probably in the 2% of the richest people who ever lived. 

12 Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud,

but humility comes before honor.

13 He who answers before listening—

that is his folly and his shame.

14 A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness,

but a crushed spirit who can bear?

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge;

the ears of the wise seek it out.

16 A gift opens the way for the giver

and ushers him into the presence of the great.

17 The first to present his case seems right,

till another comes forward and questions him.

It is important to listen to both sides of a debate.  Sometimes I find myself going back and forth as I hear more information from both sides.  Some people are good at presenting false arguments in such a way that they appear to be true.

18 Casting the lot settles disputes

and keeps strong opponents apart.

19 An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city,

and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

20 From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled;

with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.

21 The tongue has the power of life and death,

and those who love it will eat its fruit.

22 He who finds a wife finds what is good

and receives favor from the Lord.

Amen to that!  I found a great wife and have been blessed by her.

23 A poor man pleads for mercy,

but a rich man answers harshly.

24 A man of many companions may come to ruin,

but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

There is apparently some wordplay here in the Hebrew.  It is better to have fewer friends who are authentic than many who are false.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 17

pr17.jpgGreetings!

17     Better a dry crust with peace and quiet

than a house full of feasting, with strife.

That speaks volumes about how important wisdom is in decision making.  You can marry all sorts of people and be within God’s moral laws, but there are many ways to choose unwisely.  Several Proverbs point to the folly of marrying just for beauty.  If your spouse has an ugly character you will soon regret your decision. 

2 A wise servant will rule over a disgraceful son,

and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,

but the Lord tests the heart.

That reminds me of Psalm 139:23-24 (Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.).  We can fake it with family, friends and the world but God knows every thought.

4 A wicked man listens to evil lips;

a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.

We should be very careful with what we listen to.  It is so tempting to listen to gossip, but how many times have you found that the information was inaccurate and unnecessary?

5 He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;

whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

That verse convicts me when I think of people I have looked down upon.  It is so easy for me to forget who made them.

6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged,

and parents are the pride of their children.

Not in our culture!  We live in a culture of death, where abortion is seen as a good option for many.  Parents and grandparents pay perfect strangers to crush and dismember their unborn children and grandchildren.  Mercifully, Jesus can provide forgiveness and healing for these people, but shame on us for letting this procedure be legal.

7 Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool—

how much worse lying lips to a ruler!

8 A bribe is a charm to the one who gives it;

wherever he turns, he succeeds.

This isn’t encouraging bribes, just noting that they can be effective.

9 He who covers over an offense promotes love,

but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

10 A rebuke impresses a man of discernment

more than a hundred lashes a fool.

A key success factor in life is being coachable.  I do better learning via reading and Podcast sermons and shows rather than via input from others, though personal advice can be invaluable.

11 An evil man is bent only on rebellion;

a merciless official will be sent against him.

12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs

than a fool in his folly.

 That sounds like hyperbole, but consider that at least you know to run from the bear.  Too often we can be influenced by fools, media, entertainment, etc. because we let our guard down and think it is safe.

13 If a man pays back evil for good,

evil will never leave his house.

14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;

so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—

the Lord detests them both.

People often refer to God’s justice only in the sense of ensuring that the innocent are not punished.  This is critical, to be sure, but God doesn’t want the guilty to be acquitted.

16 Of what use is money in the hand of a fool,

since he has no desire to get wisdom?

17 A friend loves at all times,

and a brother is born for adversity.

18 A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge

and puts up security for his neighbor.

 If a loan expert thinks your friend or relative can’t pay back a loan, he/she is probably right!  So why should you sign for the loan? 

19 He who loves a quarrel loves sin;

he who builds a high gate invites destruction.

20 A man of perverse heart does not prosper;

he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.

21 To have a fool for a son brings grief;

there is no joy for the father of a fool.

My daughters tend to make good and wise decisions, and I am continually grateful for that!

22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,

but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

23 A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret

to pervert the course of justice.

24 A discerning man keeps wisdom in view,

but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

25 A foolish son brings grief to his father

and bitterness to the one who bore him.

26 It is not good to punish an innocent man,

or to flog officials for their integrity.

27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,

and a man of understanding is even-tempered.

28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,

and discerning if he holds his tongue.

The Bible has so much to say about our words and their power for good or evil.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 16

pr16.jpgGreetings!  Here is another major dose of wisdom from the Lord.

16     To man belong the plans of the heart,

but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.

2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,

but motives are weighed by the Lord.

People are really good at rationalizing away their sins.  I know I am. 

3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,

and your plans will succeed.

4 The Lord works out everything for his own ends—

even the wicked for a day of disaster.

God constantly makes good come out of bad.  He is permitting evil for a time, but will eventually punish it.  And He redeemed it through what Jesus did on the cross for us.

5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart.

Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;

through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.

So many things we teach kids (and adults) revolve around not doing things because of personal consequences to us.  But we forget that the main reason to obey is because He is God.

7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,

he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

8 Better a little with righteousness

than much gain with injustice.

9 In his heart a man plans his course,

but the Lord determines his steps.

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,

and his mouth should not betray justice.

11 Honest scales and balances are from the Lord;

all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12 Kings detest wrongdoing,

for a throne is established through righteousness.

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;

they value a man who speaks the truth.

14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,

but a wise man will appease it.

15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;

his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,

to choose understanding rather than silver!

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;

he who guards his way guards his life.

18 Pride goes before destruction,

a haughty spirit before a fall.

V. 18 is a famous reminder of the dangers of pride.  Pride is at the root of virtually every other sin.  When we put our interests above others we can rationalize all sorts of evil. 

19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed

than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,

and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,

and pleasant words promote instruction.

22 Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it,

but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,

and his lips promote instruction.

24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb,

sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25 There is a way that seems right to a man,

but in the end it leads to death.

There are so many “hollow and deceptive philosphies” in the world (Colossian 2:8), but they lead to misery and Hell.

26 The laborer’s appetite works for him;

his hunger drives him on.

27 A scoundrel plots evil,

and his speech is like a scorching fire.

28 A perverse man stirs up dissension,

and a gossip separates close friends.

29 A violent man entices his neighbor

and leads him down a path that is not good.

30 He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity;

he who purses his lips is bent on evil.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;

it is attained by a righteous life.

32 Better a patient man than a warrior,

a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,

but its every decision is from the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 15

pr15.jpgGreetings!

15     A gentle answer turns away wrath,

but a harsh word stirs up anger.

I encourage everyone to memorize and apply verse 1.  You can use it all day, every day with great success.  I don’t follow it all the time but when I do it works so well.

2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,

but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,

keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life,

but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Many of these verses emphasize the incredible power of the tongue.  This section reminds of James 3 where James powerfully explains how dangerous the tongue can be.

5 A fool spurns his father’s discipline,

but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure,

but the income of the wicked brings them trouble.

7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge;

not so the hearts of fools.

8 The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,

but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

9 The Lord detests the way of the wicked

but he loves those who pursue righteousness.

10 Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path;

he who hates correction will die.

11 Death and Destruction lie open before the Lord

how much more the hearts of men!

12 A mocker resents correction;

he will not consult the wise.

The section on correction seems obvious at first, but my pride often gets in the way of wanting to accept correction. 

13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful,

but heartache crushes the spirit.

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,

but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched,

but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord

than great wealth with turmoil.

How many awful lives of the “rich and famous” do we have to see to know that truth?

17 Better a meal of vegetables where there is love

than a fattened calf with hatred.

18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension,

but a patient man calms a quarrel.

19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns,

but the path of the upright is a highway.

20 A wise son brings joy to his father,

but a foolish man despises his mother.

21 Folly delights a man who lacks judgment,

but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.

22 Plans fail for lack of counsel,

but with many advisers they succeed.

23 A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—

and how good is a timely word!

24 The path of life leads upward for the wise

to keep him from going down to the grave.

25 The Lord tears down the proud man’s house

but he keeps the widow’s boundaries intact.

26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked,

but those of the pure are pleasing to him.

27 A greedy man brings trouble to his family,

but he who hates bribes will live.

28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,

but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

29 The Lord is far from the wicked

but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart,

and good news gives health to the bones.

31 He who listens to a life-giving rebuke

will be at home among the wise.

32 He who ignores discipline despises himself,

but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.

33 The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom,

and humility comes before honor.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Notice how pride is at the root of so many of those warnings!

Proverbs 14

pr14.jpgGreetings! 

Verse 1 should convict us all.  If we are not careful our words and deeds can destroy the things we worked hard to build.  How many times have we seen a few careless words destroy long term relationships?  Or critical spirits or misplaced priorities damage relationships permanently?

14     The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

2 He whose walk is upright fears the Lord, but he whose ways are devious despises him.

3 A fool’s talk brings a rod to his back,

but the lips of the wise protect them.

4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,

but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.

5 A truthful witness does not deceive,

but a false witness pours out lies.

The Bible speaks many times of the importance of truthful witnesses.  God doesn’t want justice to be impacted by bribes or by misplaced compassion for the poor.

6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,

but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

7 Stay away from a foolish man,

for you will not find knowledge on his lips.

Choosing friends wisely is an important life skill.  As parents we need to encourage good friendships and reinforce good decisions they make with regards to who they hang out with.

8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,

but the folly of fools is deception.

9 Fools mock at making amends for sin,

but goodwill is found among the upright.

I was just commenting to a friend yesterday how most people want reconciliation in relationships but are afraid to apologize or ask forgiveness.  We’re afraid the other person will pounce on our “weakness.”  But most of the time both sides want to end the conflict and there is a huge relief in making amends. 

I have found that even when the other person doesn’t accept an apology, once I’ve done my part I feel much better.  I try to remember that I can control my reaction but not theirs.

10 Each heart knows its own bitterness,

and no one else can share its joy.

11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,

but the tent of the upright will flourish.

12 There is a way that seems right to a man,

but in the end it leads to death.

V. 12 is the theme of so many lives – they rationalize all sorts of wordly behavior but in the end it kills them.

13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,

and joy may end in grief.

14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways,

and the good man rewarded for his.

15 A simple man believes anything,

but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.

16 A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil,

but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.

17 A quick-tempered man does foolish things,

and a crafty man is hated.

18 The simple inherit folly,

but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

19 Evil men will bow down in the presence of the good,

and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.

20 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors,

but the rich have many friends.

21 He who despises his neighbor sins,

but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

22 Do not those who plot evil go astray?

But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.

23 All hard work brings a profit,

but mere talk leads only to poverty.

24 The wealth of the wise is their crown,

but the folly of fools yields folly.

25 A truthful witness saves lives,

but a false witness is deceitful.

26 He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress,

and for his children it will be a refuge.

27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,

turning a man from the snares of death.

28 A large population is a king’s glory,

but without subjects a prince is ruined.

29 A patient man has great understanding,

but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

Patience is a life skill.  Being patient and giving people the benefit of the doubt has saved me time and embarrassment over and over.  I only wish I was more patient more of the time!  Pride is at the root of our impatience, because we resent how others are impacting our lives.

30 A heart at peace gives life to the body,

but envy rots the bones.

When we envy we are basically telling God that He didn’t order the universe properly.  That is not the message I want to be sending!

31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,

but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Again, oppressing the poor isn’t just an evil act because we’re being unkind.  It actually shows contempt for the God who made them.

32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,

but even in death the righteous have a refuge.

33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning

and even among fools she lets herself be known.

34 Righteousness exalts a nation,

but sin is a disgrace to any people.

Meditate on that part when considering our culture today:  Sin is a disgrace to any people.

35 A king delights in a wise servant,

but a shameful servant incurs his wrath.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 12

prov-12.jpgGreetings!

Solomon didn’t pull any punches in v. 1!  It convicts me of the many times that pride keeps me from wanting correction.

V. 4 emphasizes character as the trait of a wife (or, presumably, a husband).  It is more important than fleeting beauty.  What could be worse than a decay in your bones?

12     Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

but he who hates correction is stupid.

2 A good man obtains favor from the Lord,

but the Lord condemns a crafty man.

3 A man cannot be established through wickedness,

but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,

but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

5 The plans of the righteous are just,

but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,

but the speech of the upright rescues them.

7 Wicked men are overthrown and are no more,

but the house of the righteous stands firm.

8 A man is praised according to his wisdom,

but men with warped minds are despised.

Sadly, our culture has turned v. 8 upside down, where warped things like most rap music are admired and promoted.

9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant

than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

10 A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal,

but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

There are many pro-animal passages in the Bible. 

11 He who works his land will have abundant food,

but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.

Chasing your dreams it good, but tempering them with a little reality is important.

12 The wicked desire the plunder of evil men,

but the root of the righteous flourishes.

13 An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk,

but a righteous man escapes trouble.

14 From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things

as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.

15 The way of a fool seems right to him,

but a wise man listens to advice.

16 A fool shows his annoyance at once,

but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

I’m always glad when I overlook insults and take the high road . . . I just need to do it a higher percentage of the time now.

17 A truthful witness gives honest testimony,

but a false witness tells lies.

18 Reckless words pierce like a sword,

but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19 Truthful lips endure forever,

but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

20 There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil,

but joy for those who promote peace.

21 No harm befalls the righteous,

but the wicked have their fill of trouble.

22 The Lord detests lying lips,

but he delights in men who are truthful.

23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself,

but the heart of fools blurts out folly.

24 Diligent hands will rule,

but laziness ends in slave labor.

25 An anxious heart weighs a man down,

but a kind word cheers him up.

No matter how much progress I make spiritually, some kind words always make a difference.  I try to be intentional and specific in encouraging others as well.  When I do prison ministry visits I always look for ways to encourage the believers individually and as a group. 

26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship,

but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

27 The lazy man does not roast his game,

but the diligent man prizes his possessions.

28 In the way of righteousness there is life;

along that path is immortality.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 11

prov-11.jpgGreetings!  It is time for another chapter of wisdom from the book of Proverbs.

1 The LORD abhors dishonest scales,
but accurate weights are his delight.

What a simple thought – but consider the implications.  Even though so many businesses prey on the ignorance of customers, Christians should not do that.  Time and again businesses that put the needs of customers first, work hard and do things efficiently will prosper.

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.

3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.

All your money and all your success will mean nothing when you die.  All that will matter is whether you trusted in Jesus or not.  “Righteousness” is that which is credited to us by faith.

5 The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

7 When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes;
all he expected from his power comes to nothing.

8 The righteous man is rescued from trouble,
and it comes on the wicked instead.

9 With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.

10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

12 A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor,
but a man of understanding holds his tongue.

I often say the key to success is the 10 things we say each week and the 10 things we don’t say.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but many advisers make victory sure.

This is an area where I have missed opportunities.  I try to do too many things on my own without getting and heeding good advice from others.  Sometimes we just don’t want to hear the right answer, even though in the end it is for our good.

15 He who puts up security for another will surely suffer,
but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.

How many people suffer for co-signing loans that they shouldn’t?!  If the banks – who are experts in the field – think they person can’t repay the loan, why do you think they can?

16 A kindhearted woman gains respect,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.

17 A kind man benefits himself,
but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.

18 The wicked man earns deceptive wages,
but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

19 The truly righteous man attains life,
but he who pursues evil goes to his death.

20 The LORD detests men of perverse heart
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

So many people chase outer beauty and end up with mates who have bad character.  Of course you should be physically attracted to your mate, but there are many other things to consider.

23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

You can’t outgive God. 

25 A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

26 People curse the man who hoards grain,
but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.

27 He who seeks good finds goodwill,
but evil comes to him who searches for it.

28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

29 He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and he who wins souls is wise.

I assume by “wins souls” this means sharing the Gospel.  As Philemon 6 says, I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have an understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.    I assure you that sharing the Gospel is a great joy.

31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

Proverbs 10

Greetings!

Proverbs 10 (NIV)

Proverbs of Solomon

10     The proverbs of Solomon:

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.

2 Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.

Another reason God warns us not to take things that don’t belong to us.  Not only does it sin against God and the other person, but we won’t able to truly enjoy them ourselves.

3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

4 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

Laziness can take many forms.  It is stunning to hear how many hours of TV many people watch per day!

5 He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son,

but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous,

but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

7 The memory of the righteous will be a blessing,

but the name of the wicked will rot.

8 The wise in heart accept commands,

but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

9 The man of integrity walks securely,

but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

10 He who winks maliciously causes grief,

and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,

but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

12 Hatred stirs up dissension,

but love covers over all wrongs.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,

but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment.

14 Wise men store up knowledge,

but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,

but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

16 The wages of the righteous bring them life,

but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.

17 He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,

but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

18 He who conceals his hatred has lying lips,

and whoever spreads slander is a fool.

This is sobering.  If we hate and disguise it that may seem like a good thing, but we are lying to God. 

19 When words are many, sin is not absent,

but he who holds his tongue is wise.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,

but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,

but fools die for lack of judgment.

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,

and he adds no trouble to it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct,

but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

24 What the wicked dreads will overtake him;

what the righteous desire will be granted.

Few people are excited about dying, but the wicked really dread it. 

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,

but the righteous stand firm forever.

26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,

so is a sluggard to those who send him.

27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life,

but the years of the wicked are cut short.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,

but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the righteous,

but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

30 The righteous will never be uprooted,

but the wicked will not remain in the land.

31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,

but a perverse tongue will be cut out.

32 The lips of the righteous know what is fitting,

but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Verse after verse emphasizes that what we say matters immensely.  Being careful about the words we do say and what we don’t say makes the difference between joy and suffering.  The last time I was in Kenya I was very intentional about saying things to lift people up (even when someone was annoying me!) and not saying things that would have been unproductive.  I was successful most of the time, and it made a huge difference.