Read: Proverbs 18:1-24
Consider: Did you notice in today’s reading how often the writer refers to speaking? In Proverbs 18:4 we read: The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream. By using the analogy of still, deep water compared to fast flowing water, the writer isn’t wanting us to think that the words of the mouth are ‘deep’ (as in insightful), but that you cannot tell what will come out of the depths and darkness. By contrast the ‘rushing stream’ is crystal clear and is full of wisdom that is constantly being refreshed. The writer is also alluding to the refreshment that fresh, ‘rushing water’ can give. By connecting the ‘rushing water’ with ‘wisdom’, the writer is also telling us that wisdom is refreshment for the soul.
Later in today’s reading the writer uses phrases like:
The lips of fools … (v6);
The mouths of fools … (v7);
The words of a gossip … (v8);
From the fruit of their mouth … (v20);
The tongue has the power … (v21).
All of these words of wisdom are warnings to us of the power of the tongue and how easily we can fall into the trap of saying inappropriate things that do not bring glory to God. In the New Testament we are reminded to be on our guard as: The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell (James 3:6; see James 3:1-12 for a more detailed discussion on taming the tongue).
In the middle of today’s passage we read: The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10). On first reading this might sound strange, but bear in mind that the writer has been sharing words of wisdom about what we speak and its effect on us and those around us. This contrasts with those who use the name of the Lord as an expletive. While there is no magical power in using the name of the Lord, using it correctly and appropriately reveals the heart of the user. What the writer of Proverbs says also points forward to the saving work of Jesus. In Romans we read: Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).
Having spoken of a ‘fortified tower’ (Proverbs 18:10), we read: The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale (18:11). This is saying that the rich imagine that their wealth will protect them and insulate them against the cares and difficulties of life, but the writer tells us that this is all in their imagination. Life for rich and poor is highly unpredictable and no-one is able to avoid the ageing process, nor can they evade physical death. While all mankind faces death, the Christian can have an attitude that regards physical death as a step towards eternity. The ageing process should also present no fear for the Christian. In one of Paul’s letters he says:Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day (1 Corinthians 4:14).
As you read through Proverbs 18 again, allow the Holy Spirit to link what is said with other passages in the New Testament.
Pray: Father, we praise you that when we put our trust in your Son, we are protected from the devastating things of life. While many things may unsettle us, they cannot destroy our faith in you. Amen