Proverbs 10:17-32 Handbook for Life Part II

…and the paraphrasing continues with chapter 10, verse 17…

17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

Those who exercise discipline, who observe and follow a mindful philosophy, are like a beacon shining on a hill for others to see and emulate, but those who disregard their need for adjustment, who discount their actions, and deny their faults, are like blind curve on a mountain pass that can send you crashing into utter ruin.

18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
and spreads slander is a fool.

Smiling faces sometimes tell lies, and those who cover over hatred with congenial gestures while disparaging others misuse their mental powers, reason wrongly.

19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.

Misdeeds cannot be corrected by confusing the situation with word upon word of superfluous information, because words without sincerity and intention are meaningless, but when we stop and contemplate, conserving our remarks, we act judiciously.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

When we live in a place of honesty and integrity, speaking with kindness and love, our actions become a gift more valuable than the choicest silver, but those whose hearts harbor selfish desires and malicious intent hold no worth, they are of little consequence.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.

A fool would rather die than to think differently, to use their intelligence to help others instead of for their own selfish desires. But when we come from a place of honesty, choosing a moral path, encouraging others to be the best version of themselves, we are like fertile ground; we feed the spirit.

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.

See the post titled “Count Your Blessings” for this one!

23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

This one needs no translation. It speaks for itself in plain language, ‘nough said!

24 What the wicked dread will overtake them;
what the righteous desire will be granted.

When we walk out of step with wisdom, what we fear and worry over is called to us, but if we seek wisdom’s counsel, and live our lives rightly, then our desires are called to us.

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.

When things get hard, complicated, and the “shit hits the fan,” the vile disappear, but the reputable stand firm and work through the tempest.

26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
so are sluggards to those who send them.

This verse serves to remind us that no one appreciates laziness. When we are lazy, we cause pain and suffering to those who depend upon us.

27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life,
but the years of the wicked are cut short.

Respect for things we don’t understand, the powers of nature, of the universe, of God, and a humble attitude toward these powers, makes us more prudent in our choices, while an irreverent, arrogant attitude toward them spur rash and irrational behavior that can put our lives in danger.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,
but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

When we live an honorable and faith-filled life, our outlook transforms into happiness and enjoyment, but the expectations of the hateful will not materialize.

29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

Following God’s laws are a comfort and a sanctuary for the virtuous, but God’s way is both a threat and a disaster for those who are corrupt and unethical.

30 The righteous will never be uprooted,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.

If we live our lives with integrity and authenticity, we become like an oak tree, deeply rooted in spirit, but when we choose the path of dishonesty and immorality, we are like tumble weeds, drifting in the wind,.

31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom,
but a perverse tongue will be silenced.

The person who does the right thing speaks with the voice of wisdom, but those who twist the truth, distorting it, will be stifled.

32 The lips of the righteous know what finds favor,
but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

Those who are decent and upright speak in love and consideration, while the unpleasant and malicious skew truth, speaking in profane and self-serving nonsense.

It is interesting to me how many references to speech are used Proverbs 10, as if reminding us that “loose lips sink ships!” To live wisely, we are advised to watch our mouths, to hold our tongues, to understand that what we say can and does have a huge impact upon others, as well as ourselves. There are consequences to everything in life, and spreading gossip, speaking badly of others, and using our faculties of language to impugn or injure others will most certainly come back upon us, will indict us with our own words.

~SLM

Proverbs 10: The Handbook for Life Part I

So now we come to it, Solomon’s guidebook for living, an “owner’s manual” for life that compares and contrasts wisdom with foolishness, virtue with vice. In the next several posts on Proverbs, I will treat The Wise Sayings of Solomon as if they are a foreign language to be decoded, explained, translated into plain English.  These two-line Haiku style poems, found in chapters 10 through 22:16, and continuing in chapters 27 to 29, represent the wisdom of the ages, condensed and codified, divided into 16 parts (and for my purposes, 32, so as to keep any one posting from hitting the realm of a doctoral thesis!), and showing us how to lead a good life before the eyes of God.

Solomon’s Wise Sayings begin with a simple, yet profound observation;

1A wise son brings joy to his father,
 but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

If you make good choices in life, it’s your dad who is the proudest of you, but it’s a mother who feels it most, whose heart is broken when a child turns out wrong. Dads are more apt to cut their losses and distance themselves from a hurtful situation, but moms suffer for it. They’re the ones who hold out hope, even when all hope seems lost, that some good would come from a difficult situation. That’s why it’s such a joy when a prodigal child to return home, such a blessing when one realizes the error of one’s ways.

2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
but righteousness delivers from death.

The things that we hold most dear are those that we have to toil to achieve. If we don’t have to work for something, we have no concept of its worth, its true value. If we are dishonest, take short cuts or take advantage of others to get what we want, it usually doesn’t turn out very well.

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

God takes care of those who follow his way, his instruction, yet he also frustrates the desires of the nefarious. He takes care of his own. Luke 12:24 tells us “consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

4 Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.

We are keepers of our families, our homes, our communities, and productivity is the better part of good stewardship. There are things in life that simply need to be done, and when we neglect them, whether it’s our health, our finances, or our spirituality, we find ourselves in situations that can bring us to ruin.

5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 we are told that to all things there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Wisdom teaches us the practicality of taking action at the appropriate time, of “making hay while the sun is shining,” but if we are heedless or neglectful of our duties we dishonor ourselves.

6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

When we are honest and decent, living our lives respectably, and treating people with honor, the blessings we bestow upon others returns to us manifold.  But, if we let our mouths over load our backsides, disrespecting and demeaning others, causing them pain and anguish, then we can expect to reap vehemence and cruelty.

7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings,
but the name of the wicked will rot.

We remember and honor virtuous folks, and we use them as examples to follow, to pattern ourselves after. But the wicked are reviled, detested and condemned, and they are irrevocably linked to corruption and perversion.

8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

The idea of attaining wisdom is connected to the notion of learning from our own or others’ mistakes, listening for and accepting instructions, taking responsibility for our actions and moving forward. But the foolish never listen, take responsibility, or accept directions. They blabber on, smugly believing they know it all, and their arrogance is their down fall.

9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

If we take the high road, walking in truthfulness and decency, our road is protected, and we can feel confident in our dealings with others. But, if we are deceitful, telling half-truths and twisting the facts, it is our scheming that eventually exposes our falseness and dishonesty.

10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

When we are unkind, making fun and talking behind other’s backs; the consequences are pain and suffering for ourselves and others. When we chatter on without regard to what we are saying, we are the one who ends up with egg on our face, who is disgraced.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

When we speak honestly, have decency and are respectful of others, we become a source for understanding and inspiration to them, but the malicious and contemptuous, disguise their true intent with their words.

12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.

Animosity always precedes conflict, and discord begets more hatred, but love, love is the answer. It erases all wrongs and understanding is its progeny.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

You can think whatever you want to, but it’s not very wise to say everything you think; discernment is the key to getting along with others, and those who show no sense inevitably suffer for their lack of judgment.

14 The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

To become wise, we must adopt the habit of listening. It’s through our ears that our knowledge builds upon itself, like a house is built from the foundation up, but those who are foolish attract ruin, because they are incessantly bragging of all they know, rather than listening.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

When we appreciate the blessings in our lives, we recognize God’s abundance, and our blessings become our fortification, but if we are never satisfied, and see only the thing we do not have, then our attitude of ingratitude becomes our ruin.

16 The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

When we live in an honest and virtuous manner, what we gain is character, spirit, life, but if we are corrupted, dishonest and malicious, then we are as zombies, we are dead inside.

And so ends my translation of The Handbook, Part I.        ~ SLM