Solomon continues the comparison between the wise and the foolish. He doesn’t specify the two sons he started with but these proverbs do apply to them.
When we looked at the two sons last time we found one deep difference; the foolish had no peace because he didn’t know God. He may have known about God but he didn’t have a relationship with Him and therefore had no peace in his life. No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.
I’m still letting my bible helps break down the sections for me but I decided to go for the overall bigger section they talk about instead of the smaller “paragraph” sections they identified. The reason for this is because the “mouth” of the two are used for comparison in verses 6-11 but we see the mouth several more times in this chapter. As a result, I thought it wisest to go with the rest of the chapter.
As a recap, we saw the wise son as hardworking, honest, and with an eye towards the future. He lives his life according to the Law handed down to Moses. His parents are proud of him.
The wicked son is lazy about physical work but active in the mental area as he is always scheming. He is deceitful and more than happy to ‘get his’ at the expense of others. He is always chasing satisfaction in to possession of things, but is never satisfied.
Let’s see what other attributes we can lay at their feet. Let’s start with the mouth since my bible helps found that as a focus for the first five verses of today’s reading. There is more said about the “mouth” of the wicked than the wise. We are told that “the mouth of the wicked conceals violence” twice. Verses 6 and 11 both end with this warning. The term “babbling fool” is used twice in the first five verses to describe the foolish man. We are also told that the wicked have a “perverse” tongue, conceal hatred with lies, utter slander, and brings ruin through their words.
In contrast, the mouth of the righteous or wise is reserved in speech. “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (verse 19). What the wise man does say is more valuable than silver, bring about understanding, and is a fountain of life.
This reminds me of my ex-husband during Basic Training for the Army. The saying among the other trainees was that if Reynolds spoke you better listen. He was quiet unless there was something important to be dealt with. His life wasn’t always “righteous” but in that situation his mouth was.
Jesus tells us that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. This was said to the Pharisees who were speaking evil of Him. So our wise and foolish sons must have a source for what is coming from their mouths too. What is that source? The first part of verse 8 lays that foundation; “The wise of heart will receive commandments” tells us that the wise man is seeking instruction from God’s commandments. He lays up knowledge and seeks understanding. He has a right fear of the Lord and His ways guide the man’s life; they are his stronghold.
The foolish or wicked seek pleasures that are temporary and fade away. He won’t take direction or redirection from anyone. He is convinced he knows all there is to know and he is angry that his plans don’t take off. His heart is empty of God’s presence and full of discontent. His heart is intent on pleasing itself and no one and nothing else is more important than that goal.
This heart attitude comes out in more than just the mouth. It is played out in the hands and walk every day. The wise son is walking in the ways of the Lord. His hands display God’s love in their actions. They are prudent and faithful. Their actions are blessed by the Lord and as a result he prospers.
The foolish man’s actions lead to his own destruction. His pursuit of self-gratification leads to ruin. Even his promises can’t be trusted because if they don’t directly benefit him he easily breaks them. He is unreliable. God does NOT bless his actions and as a result he comes to ruin.
If you are anything like me, you will have examples of your own on both sides of this comparison. I have walked in the path of the foolish on more than one occasion. I TRY to walk in the ways of the righteous regularly. Because of His forgiveness, even when I do walk in the ways of the foolish, He brings me out of it. The ONLY way I have found to lessen the time spent in the path of the foolish is to dig deeper into the Word of the Lord.
Father God, THANK YOU for forgiveness! Thank You that even when it is hard, I have learned to trust in YOU. Sometimes the hard road is because of a lesson I need to learn, other times it is because I stepped off the right path. Whatever the reason, when I fill my heart with You my load lessens and I make it through.
Help me control my mouth and my words, even those in print. Let them bring life instead of destruction. Forgive me too Father for getting distracted yesterday (and every time it happens) and forgetting to come to You for our time together. Forgive me for also getting distracted during out time together. THAT happens TOO often. I want to sit at Your feet and listen instead of fidget. Fill my heart so my mouth, hands and feet reflect You on the throne of my heart.