Proverbs 11

<Link to Proverbs 11>

Solomon continues with his contrasting comparisons today.  We’ll pull a few out as highlights.

The Lord detests dishonest scales,
    but accurate weights find favor with him.”
(Proverbs 11:1 NIV)

Solomon reminds us that the Lord is concerned about our character and integrity in the marketplace as well as in the church and in our home.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with humility comes wisdom.”
(Proverbs 11:2 NIV)

The Hebrew word translated “pride” in this verse is more accurately translated “presumptuousness” – the idea of arrogantly assuming that life is all about that person.  The Hebrew root word means “to boil over”.  Just as a pot boils over as it cooks, the one with pride and arrogance oversteps his or her boundaries and spills out onto others without their permission.  Solomon says that humility is the antidote to this attitude.

Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
    all the promise of their power comes to nothing.”
(Proverbs 11:7 NIV)

Solomon reminds us that our hope is in the Lord, and not with other people, mere mortals.  Do we place our hope in church leaders, or spouses, or parents, or children, or business leaders, or government officials?  Solomon is referring not to the righteous or godly, but to wicked men and women who make promises solely on their own ability to deliver.  When these people die, all the hope placed in them goes away.

The psalmist reminds us, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2 NIV)

As followers of Christ, we are reminded that this is true of us as well.  We are not “owners” of the Gospel of salvation – we are ambassadors of Christ, telling others on His behalf.  There were others who told us about Christ; we in turn, will tell others, and the Gospel will continue long after we are gone.  Truly our hope lies in Christ.

A gossip betrays a confidence,
    but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”
(Proverbs 11:13 NIV)

What’s our trustworthy factor?  Can we hold what others say to us in confidence?  Can we be trusted?

For lack of guidance a nation falls,
    but victory is won through many advisers.”
(Proverbs 11:14 NIV)

The word translated “guidance” here is more accurately translated “pilot”, like steering a ship and navigating the waterways.  The word “victory” can also be translated “safety”, the opposite of the nation falling.  The presupposition here is that the advisers are wise people, not merely those who agree with whatever the boss wants.

Solomon gives this principle at the national level, but it also applies at every level, clear down to us as individuals.  We need other trustworthy people in our lives, to give insight and perspective that we do not contain in ourselves.  We were created to live in communion with God, and in community with one another.  We need to remember to regularly interact with both.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
     another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

A generous person will prosper;
    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
(Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV)

These two back-to-back proverbs address similar topics of generosity from different angles.

Verse 24 refers to blessing others by acts of charity.  The word “gives” here means “scatters”, like sowing seeds.  The context does not imply actual farming practices (although farming does sometimes seem like it is working for charity, when times are tough), but more like sowing grass seeds on a lawn to fill in the bare spots.  The idea is that giving to charity does not make one poor, nor does saving guarantee one will get rich.

Verse 25 captures the idea that a generous person gives special gifts or “blessings” to others.  This is not in contrast to verse 24 (the idea of general giving, like sowing of seeds), but in complement to it (specific acts of kindness and blessing).  Solomon reminds us that those who are a blessing to others will themselves be blessed in their time of need.

May you be encouraged by the Lord today, and be an encouragement to others.