111-124 Proverbs Chapter 12
In this chapter we continue with the two line contrast between the righteous and the unrighteous. The consequences continues for the wicked behavior of the foolish. There seems to be no sequential pattern with the exception of verses 13-19 which relate to speaking.
In verse 1 it is declared that there is no short cut to learning. The learning process requires discipline. The basic meaning of discipline here is teaching and not punishment. Still it is necessary to endure discomfort as a condition of learning in the world. Things are not worth having if they come free and this includes wisdom.
Verse 4 does not need explanation but it is a classic statement of the paternal nature of the Old Testament. A wife is either the best or the worst thing that a husband can have. In biblical times the wife was seen as a possession and if the husband had a good wife he was considered fortunate. If the husband had a bad wife it was considered a terrible burden.
In this longest section of the book of Proverbs (10:1 to 22:16) are opposing and state opposite sides of the truth. A few are comparative, “better this than that” proverbs.” Verse 9 is an example, “Better is he who is lightly esteemed and has a servant Than he who honors himself and lacks bread.” There is a virtue to making an honest living even if they are lightly esteemed by those who do not have two nickels to put together. The following verses 10 and 11 speak of the praise of the honest who toil humbly. In verse 10 we see that good man has regard for his beast of burden and in verse 11 the good man will work hard and take care of his land.
In verses 13-19 we can see that we trip ourselves up with a slip of tongue. We also see that we can bless others and be blessed. Verse 15 may not seem related to speaking but it does reflect the observation that “you can’t tell some people anything because they already know it all.” The wise person can learn from others, as he believes that everyone can teach him something. In verse 16 we receive advice against being hot tempered. It really doesn’t hurt to suffer insult. In verse 17 we see a trial where the truth speaker gives an honest testimony while the liar perjures himself. In verse 18 the subject is the power of the tongue to heal or hurt. Words can be as a sword that is thrusts or they can be as a healing balm. In verse 19 we find that truth is enduring while lying is only temporarily successful. Sooner or later a lie will catch up with the teller and the truth will come out. In verse 22 we see the argument between falsehood and truth. The Lord delights in the truth but finds lying abominable. Verse 23 is about knowing when to keep the mouth shut. The wise man is often silent about what he knows. The fool is just the opposite and tells everyone everything that he knows.
This chapter concludes with the basic theme of Proverbs, which is that righteousness leads to life.