29 July. Proverbs chapters 10-12
These chapters are headed “the proverbs of Solomon”. They consist of a large number of pithy sayings, nearly all of which consist of a single couplet contrasting good and bad behaviour or attitudes. These are what are more commonly understood as “proverbs” than some of the earlier material.
It’s difficult to pick any one out for examination, as any of them are worth pondering for a minute or two, but one of the more common themes in these sayings in the use of words. Let’s look at a few of them:
“Lying lips conceal hatred, and whoever utters slander is a fool. / When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but the prudent are restrained in speech. / The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the mind of the wicked is of little worth. / The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.” (10:18-21) “Whoever belittles another lacks sense, but an intelligent person remains silent. A gossip goes about telling secrets, but one who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a confidence.” (11:12-13) “The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush, but the speech of the upright delivers them.” (12:6)
The good or wise person, then, is urged to keep words to a minimum and keep confidences, unlike the fool (unwise person) who talks more than they should, gives secrets away, criticises other people and tells lies. This, like much in the Proverbs, is timeless good advice that serves us equally well today.