Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Proverbs (Proverbs 10-12)|
Chapter: Proverbs 12
Passage: Proverbs 12:1-3
A. Find Out:
1. Who loves knowledge? v.1a
2. Who is stupid? v.1b
3. Who obtains favour from the Lord? v.2a
4. Who does the Lord condemn? v.2b
5. How can a man NOT be established? v.3a
6. What can't happen to the righteous? v.3b
Discipline and correction (v.1). Discipline isn't something we like to think about because we equate it with pain (Heb 12:11 ). If there is pain it is to free us from wrong ways and bring the regular good order of goodness into our lives. Discipline means training into righteousness and the one whose heart is open to the Lord is willing to be taught. Being taught means we need to acquire knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. Such an open person relishes such knowledge and is willing for God to bring their lives in line with what is right. Living in opposition to God's decreed will only brings pain and upset, and so it is far better to allow the Lord to bring you into His will. In fact to hate Him doing this is just stupidity!
God's approval (v.2). Surely the most important thing in life is to have God's approval? Who will receive it? Who will obtain His favour? A good man! Who is a good man? A man who lives according to God's laws and is filled and led by God's Spirit, a man who is full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14), a man who is being changed into Jesus' likeness (2 Cor 3:18) a man in whom the fruit of goodness (Gal 5:22) is growing. THIS person is the one who receives God's blessing. The person who is self-centred, a scheming, crafty person out for themselves, will be condemned by God because they are living contrary to God's design for them.
A matter of security (v.3). We all of us long to feel secure, to be secure, but the ways we go about achieving it determine the reality of it. A bad man seeks to establish himself in a bad way. He uses wrong methods, underhand schemes and so on. As a result he may accumulate wealth but he is not secure. The very things he has done to achieve it has created enemies. He is not secure. By contrast the righteous man, by being righteous, receives God's approval and protection and often the approval of men (see Acts 5:13 ). He will not be pulled up and destroyed but will stand strong and steady in life.
Chapter: Proverbs 12
Passage: Proverbs 12:4-6
A. Find Out:
1. What sort of wife is her husband's crown? v.4a
2. What is a disgraceful wife like? v.4b
3. What are just? v.5a
4. What is deceitful? v.5b
5. What do the words of the wicked do? v.6a
6. What does the speech of the upright do? v.6b
Wives contrasted (v.4). First there is the noble wife, the wife who is wise, honourable, distinguished. She brings honour to her husband and like a crown reveals him as a ruler of worth. Character is revealed by actions and so a noble character is revealed in the way her husband is seen – a man blessed, honoured and esteemed.
The wife who brings disgrace is the opposite. She has the effect of making her husband weak, feeling broken down, decaying. The importance and influence of a wife within the marriage cannot be under-estimated. How much of the breakdown of marriages in our society today is due to the failure spoken of here?
Wise planning (v.5). When the righteous make plans, they are just, fair, honourable, good, because they care about others. Plans should not just be about things, activities or events, but should take into account people. The advice that comes from the wicked is full of deceit, scheming and untruth. When they plan they are planning for themselves, at the expense of others, and therefore they seek to cover up the harm that they intend. They are deceitful when they give advice.
Our words (v.6). A strange verse at first sight – the words of the wicked lie in wait for blood? Words express what is on the heart and the heart of the wicked is to do harm to others, thus their words are scheming the downfall of others, the destruction of others, their words are the pathway towards blood being shed, life being taken. The result may be that it is their own life that is forfeited. The opposite is true of the upright, straight or truthful person. Their words, reflecting their heart, will be good and wholesome and true, and as such will affect others positively, and so where there are dangers ahead in life, their words will pave the way for others to stand with them to help and resist evil. Our words can have a powerful effect on our lives.
Chapter: Proverbs 12
Passage: Proverbs 12:7-9
A. Find Out:
1. What happens to wicked men? v.7a
2. What happens to the righteous? v.7b
3. Why is a man praised? v.8a
4. How are men of warped minds thought? v.8b
5. Who is it better to be? v.9a
6. Than whom? v.9b
Security and durability (v.7). Wicked men are overthrown? Is this always so? Yes, eventually, for even as David said (Psa 37:35,36), they may flourish for a while but eventually their time WILL come. The wicked are always living in hope that they will get away with it, but it is a false hope. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries are littered with names of despots or crooks who reigned for a while but who were eventually swept away. Then comes yet another promise of security for the righteous. Their house, or life, stands firm while all else around them shakes and falls. Here is a truth to be grasped and apprehended by the children of God.
Acknowledgement of wisdom (v.8). The truth is that people are generally not idiots and they know and recognise a wise man or a warped man. A wise man is gracious and humble, kind and caring, thoughtful, and what he says makes sense, and all of that is fairly obvious. Likewise a man who has got warped or twisted thinking is seen for what he is. More than this, people comment, acknowledging what they are seeing. The wise man is praised and the warped man is despised. It's very simple and obvious.
A Nobody or a Somebody (v.9). People very often pretend to be something other than what they really are. Solomon knows this. There may be a person who makes themselves out to be a Somebody, which means somebody of importance. However, if they are on the breadline, it doesn't matter what they make themselves out to be, they are still poor! No, says Solomon, it's actually better to be someone with means and not known or recognised publicly than to put on a false show. Behind this is the whole question of humility. Do we need to make ourselves out to be better than we are, or can we just live quietly and contentedly without any public fanfare. People who court fanfare are usually people who feel inadequate and need the fanfare to boost their morale.
Chapter: Proverbs 12
Passage: Proverbs 12:10-12
A. Find Out:
1. What does the righteous man care about? v.10a
2. Yet what are the kindest acts of the wicked like? v.10b
3. Who will have abundant food? v.11a
4. Who lacks judgement? v.11b
5. What do the wicked desire? v.12a
6. What flourishes? v.12b
How we treat our animals (v.10). Yes, spiritual reality even extends to how we treat animals. Much has been said about the ‘righteous' in these proverbs, and now here is another facet of their lives. A righteous person will be caring and that care extends to the creatures under their care. Why is that likely to be? Because God made all creatures and therefore God cares for them and so the person seeking God's will and seeking to follow God's heart will similarly care for them.
Work and provision (v.11). Although this is a proverb from an agricultural community, it nevertheless applies generally. It sounds very obvious but these proverbs often are. If you were a farmer and you worked your land properly, you would have abundant provision of food. The person who sits around daydreaming or thinking up bright new ideas that never work, “lacks judgement”. What does that mean? It means, very simply, that they aren't thinking straight! Judgement here is the ability to know what is right and wrong. Judgement here is knowing what to do to make right provision. The principle is the same whether it is farming or any other form of industry. Do what needs to be done and your provision will be there. Daydream and you'll end up in poverty!
Life desires (v.12). The wicked are those who desire something for nothing, something obtained quite possibly by wrong doing, and at the expense of others. The wicked don't care how their obtain their riches, but the righteous person is quite difference. The “root” or basis of their life is quite different. Their whole outlook is different. All they do is done with an eye on God. This whole outlook is like the root of a plant that goes down and provides both stability and supply. So, in the same way, this outlook of the righteous means that they are stable in their good ways (i.e. they will not vary from them), and those ways produce good fruit, which is the blessing of God on them. We need to understand that there are very real and genuine differences between good and bad.
Chapter: Proverbs 12
Passage: Proverbs 12:13-15
A. Find Out:
1. How is an evil man trapped? v.13a
2. But what happens to a righteous man? v.13b
3. How is a man filled with good things? v.14a
4. In the same way as what? v.14b
5. What seems right to a fool? v.15a
6. But what does a wise man do? v.15b
Trapped by talk (v.13). Here is yet another of the proverbs that speaks about what we say. Who is trapped by his talk? An evil man! Who is an evil man? A person (male or female!) who is godless and unrighteous and self-centred and who has no moral boundaries, and doesn't care about it! What does this parable say? Very simply, that the words of this person get them into trouble! More often it's words rather than actions that get us into trouble. This person's talk is ‘sinful', i.e. it is wrong! And wrong talk eventually creates upset and hostility and before they know it, they are trapped in a web of hostility. By comparison the righteous person, the one whose desires are to please God, escapes trouble. How? The inference is by their good words. Our words have the ability to get us into trouble, or to avoid trouble or escape trouble. Words are important.
The reward of good words (v.14). As an extension of the previous verse, this one tells us the simple truth that blessing comes with good words. When we speak good words, then good things follow. We feel good, the other people feel good. Peace reigns. People are blessed and bless us in return. It's a blessing circle! Speak good, and receive good. This is as sure a principle as the one that says work hard and receive the fruit of your labours. Speak well and receive the fruit of your blessing. Words not only bless others, the blessing comes back on us!
The refusal of advice (v.15). A wise man listens to advice. We all of us need the counsel of wisdom of others. It is a wise person who has the grace and humility to receive it from others. The ‘fool' on the other hand refuses to listen to others because he is quite happy with himself, with his ideas and his ways, and can't see the need of help from anyone else. Such a self-centred person is stupid, lacking common sense and short sighted, lacking judgement. The truth is that we need the words of others, their thoughts and ideas, their wisdom seen from a different perspective. To reject this is folly.
Chapter: Proverbs 12
Passage: Proverbs 12:16-18
A. Find Out:
1. When does a fool show his annoyance? v.16a
2. But what does a prudent man do? v.16b
3. What does a truthful witness do? v. 17a
4. What does a false witness do? v.17b
5. What do reckless words do? v.18a
6. What does the tongue of the wise do? v.18b
Responses to insults (v.16). When people speak unkindly to us, how do we respond? It is natural to get upset but Solomon says it is the fool who shows he us upset and the prudent who doesn't react. What does a “prudent man” mean? Prudence is the wisdom that leads a person to avoid danger or evil by discretion. So when an insult comes, the wise person discretely overlooks it. Why? Because they know that they too are prone to wrongs, and reacting to it will only aggravate the situation. A peacemaker overlooks such things and simply looks to bring unity and harmony.
Telling the truth (v.17). This is one of those proverbs that look so obvious that you wonder why it is here! A truthful witness gives honest testimony? Yes! A false witness tells lies? Yes! These both seem to be tautology, saying the same thing, using language with identical meanings. What is Solomon trying to tell us? The key words are “truthful” and “false”. What you get from a witness will only be as good as the person. Some people have decided to live truthful lives, some false lives. What comes from their mouths reflects what they are already like on the inside. Wrong testimony isn't usually because the person is mistaken but because of the sort of person they already are! Jesus taught this (Mt 7:127,18) as did James (Jas 3:9-12).
Effects of words (v.18). Reckless words, words spoken with abandon, words spoken carelessly with no thought for their effect. How easy to do! When that is the attitude, then the words are often harmful and cutting, piercing and hurtful. Once you've spoken words like this you can't take them back, you can't get back the hurt that was caused. How much better never to speak like this? The tongue of the wise, says Solomon, bring healing. What a contrast. One person wounds, another heals, and it's all through the words that are spoken. How important it is, therefore, that we control what we say!
A. Find Out:
1. What endure for ever? v.19a
2. What lasts only a moment? v.19b
3. Where is there deceit? v.20a
4. Where is there joy? v.20b
5. What won't happen to the righteous? v.21a
6. But what happens to the wicked? v.21b
The Endurance of Words (v.19). Words indicate the state of the heart. We have seen that in previous proverbs. Truthful lips help promote peace and harmony, as they come from a righteous heart, and thus they will continue. Truthful words will be blessed by God and will be remembered. Lies come from an unrighteous person but lies come and go in a minute. They are either believed and bring speedy downfall, or they are not believed and are forgotten. One way of another their life is short!
Fruit of the Heart (v.20). The proverbs continue to contrast good and bad. In the bad there is only plotting evil and this person is full of deceit. They only know how to deceive and indeed because their whole thinking is twisted they deceive themselves. It actually is a fruit of the sort of person they are. They are in confusion! But then you come to the peacemaker and all you find in them is joy. Why? Because they are open and honest and truthful, and therefore full of peace and the blessing of God. In this there is great joy – a continual light spirit that is often lifted in song.
Security (v.21). Here is an amazing claim that we would do well to meditate on in depth: no harm befalls the righteous. Wow! Whatever comes the way of the righteous is not harm! So what is harm? That which injures or destroys. This reminds us of Paul's words: “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28). Whatever comes the way of the genuinely righteous person (including us who are now righteous “in Christ”) will be taken by God and used by God for our good. It will not cause harm, but only good. For a moment we may think it (?discipline – Heb 12:11) painful, but in the hands of our loving Father, whatever ‘it' is, it will only work for our good, not our harm or destruction. When we can come to the place of believing God, then we truly come to the place of security.
A. Find Out:
1. What does the Lord detest? v.22a
2. Who does He delight in? v.22b
3. What does a prudent man do? v.23a
4. What does the fool do? v.23b
5. What will rule? v.24a
6. How does laziness end? v.24b
Lies & truthfulness (v.22). Again and again these proverbs are about what we say. So many of them tell about the effects of our words, but this one speaks about how the Lord Himself feels about our words. First, Solomon tells us that God “detests” lying lips. Older versions speak of them being an abomination to Him. It is a strong word. It means they are utterly repulsive to Him. Why is that? Because He, the Lord, is utterly real and He has made the world to be real and lies run completely contrary to that. Lies cause pain or hurt or upset; all things contrary to the perfection God designed His world to be originally. The first wrong act on earth was a lie (Gen 3:4) and from it all other evil flowed. The Lord delights in those who are truthful because they conform to His image, and He is pleased.
Prudence in Speech (v.23). We saw reference to a prudent man back in verse 16. We said then that Prudence is the wisdom that leads a person to avoid danger or evil by discretion. Thus a prudent man knows it is wiser not to just pour out all you know for that can upset others in a variety of ways. The fool, on the other hand, speaks without thought for others and just says what is on his mind, often to the detriment of others. He is a fool because he does not think, and because of what he does.
Consequences of laziness (v.24). The Bible tells us again and again that there are consequences to our actions, to our lifestyles, to our words. Now Solomon focuses on the consequences of working or not working. The person who is diligent or careful to work and works well, will be recognised and promoted. Joseph was a good illustration of that (Gen 39:3-6, 21-23). By contrast, the person who is lazy will not earn and as a result will end up in poverty and even in slavery. Our welfare state shields such people from physical slavery, but the lazy attitude itself becomes a form of slavery from which it becomes very difficult to escape.
A. Find Out:
1. What does an anxious heart do? v.25a
2. What does a kind word do? v.25b
3. What is a righteous man? v.26a
4. What does the way of the wicked do? v.26b
5. What does a lazy man not do? v.27a
6. What does a diligent man do? v.27b
Anxiety (v.25). In a day when the media tell us that we are more stressed, here is an apt word. Anxiousness weighs a person down. All of us probably know this experience. When we are worrying about something, it seems to dominate us and it is like a heavy load we are carrying round, and carrying a load is tiring! What do we need at such a time? A kind word, a word from someone near us that indicates that they understand, that we are not alone, and it's all right. We can carry concerns when they are shared, and it just needs a kind word to lift the heaviness. Will we be bringers of kind words?
Friendship (v.26). The more modern versions translate this uncertain verse to do with friendship, e.g. the NKJV: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.” or the NIV: “A righteous man is cautious in friendship”. This is simple wise sense. A friend is one who opens their life to another and bonds with them. A righteous person is careful who they do that with, for they do not want to join with wickedness. It is very easy to take on the ideas and ways of thinking of friends, and so if those friends do not have the same ‘Christ-values' that you do, be careful. It is easy to be led astray.
Laziness and value (v.27). The NIV talks about the lazy man not ‘roasting' his game, where the word is uncertain. That meaning would make sense to a countryman, especially when it is seen in the light of the second half of the proverb. It is basically saying that the lazy person does not do what is required of the game he hunts, and so eventually wastes it. The diligent or careful man looks after and values what he obtains. It is a simple picture that applied into the bigger world would say, do we value our possession, the things we've earned, or do we have an “easy come, easy go” attitude that places little value on all of God's goodness to us through the material world.
SUMMARY - Proverbs 12
As we glance back over these three chapters of Proverbs, the following are some of the recurring themes:
The blessings that can come from the mouth of the righteous/discerning/wise are expressed as a fountain of life (10:11), bringing wisdom (10:12,31), like choice silver (10:20), nourishing many (10:21), know what is fitting (10:32), knows when to remain silent (11:12, 12:23), is able to keep a secret (11:13), rescues from unrighteous situations (12:6,13), brings affluence (12:14), gives honest testimony (12:17), brings healing (12:18), is a delight to the Lord (12:22), and cheers the anxious (12:25).
By comparison the mouth of wicked or the fool brings violence (10:11), is rash in judgement (10:13), invites ruin (10:14), lies to conceal bad attitudes (10:18), is only perverse (10:32), destroys his neighbour (11:9), destroys a community (11:11), derides his neighbour (11:12), wait for violence (12:6), traps him (12:13), tells lies (12:17), speaks recklessly (12:18), lies and is detested by the Lord (12:22), speaks foolishly without thought (12:23).
From this we can see that the way we use our tongue is absolutely vital. How we need this both in the church and in the world today.
The proverbs cover a whole variety of situations, but one of the things that stands out when we consider them is that CONSEQUENCES follow our actions. For example, in Chapter 10 verses 2,4,8,9,10,11,14,16,17,22,27 are all about the consequences that follow. The New Testament equivalent is found in Gal 6:7 – a man reaps what he sows. In a day when restraint has been lifted off so much behaviour in our society, we would do well to look at the harvest of consequences that have followed.
The righteous and the wicked
A comparison that keeps on coming out in so many of the proverbs is between “the righteous” and “the wicked”. In New Testament terms a righteous person is one who has been declared righteous by God in response to their believing in Jesus Christ's work on the Cross for them (Rom 3:22). Here in the Old Testament we might describe “the righteous” as those who seek to live in rightness before God, i.e. who are godly and seek to live morally upright and good lives.
With this in mind, you may find it profitable to go back and read through these three chapters again and wherever you see reference to “the righteous” insert “the godly living upright lives”, and see how this enlarges your understanding.
As we said in the Introduction, in a day when pluralism says all views are equally right, Solomon's proverbs scream into the market place, “No they aren't!! Some things are right, and the opposite are wrong! Certain attitudes an actions are good, and others are definitely bad! When we meditate on the Proverbs (and these notes are merely starting places) we see that in God's eyes there is black and white, bad and good and the bad brings adverse consequences and the good brings the blessing of God. Outcomes are the result of good or bad thinking, followed by good or bad behaviour.
Let's finish this set of studies with this order of events:
More than that, if we are Christians and claim we are righteous in God's sight because of Jesus, let's ensure our behaviour is righteous in practice, because we will still reap the adverse consequences of bad behaviour. Let's allow these Proverbs to touch and challenge our everyday lives.