Proverbs 10:17-32: Seek Wisdom!

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Proverbs 10:17-32: Seek Wisdom!

August 11, 2022


Nehemiah 4-5, Proverbs 10:17-32, Luke 16:19-31, 2 Timothy 1  

Proverbs 10:17-32:  

Each of these proverbs is like a Tardis: small on the outside but massive on the inside. We cannot do justice to them in totality but can only comment briefly on each in turn:  

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (10:17).

Note then the contrast in this proverb. Discipline—and its opposite, ignoring correction—does not only have effects on our own lives, but also operates as an example to others. A disciplined person draws other people along a similar path, whereas someone who is not disciplined leads others astray. Humans have a tendency to mimic those around them, and while we can resist the siren cries of ill-discipline, it can have this impact: making us follow along a path that goes astray.  

Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool” (10:18).

This proverb does not mince words! When you conceal your animosity in the presence of the person to whom you feel enmity, and then behind his back slander him, you are the fool. We may think that slandering others shows our wisdom and their foolishness, but really the reverse is true. Take comfort then if you have been slandered. The one who slandered you is the fool! 

Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues” (10:19).

Sometimes we think that people can be corrected simply by persuasion. It is not so. There are those who will not be persuaded, however eloquent the teacher. On these occasions it is prudent to hold your tongue. Jesus put it differently: don’t throw your pearls before swine.  

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value” (10:20).

 A righteous person has words that are precious silver. By contrast even the wicked person’s heart—their thinking and feeling and desires—is of little value. Listen then to the righteous!  

The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense” (10:21).

More on words: the righteous speak and feed many people. Again, listen to the words of the righteous. By contrast, fools die for lack of sense. The surest path to defeat and death is to avoid the path of God’s wisdom. 

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it” (10:22).

Here is an interesting proverb! When God blesses with financial prosperity, it comes with an extra blessing: no anxious, painful toil. By contrast, it is implied that it is possible to become wealthy but have with it the curse of painful toil: anxiety, stress, difficulty, and disaster.  

A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom” (10:23).

One of the characteristics of a foolish person is what they delight in, what gives them pleasure and satisfaction. A foolish person finds delight in plans, schemes, and strategies that are aimed at evil or wicked ends. By contrast a person of understanding delights in wisdom. One way then to tell whether someone is a fool or not is by what they take pleasure in.  

What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted” (10:24).

By turns encouraging and devastating, this proverb warns that the mortal fear of the wicked will in the end reach them. It takes considerable courage to even read the deathbed experiences of those who have turned their back upon God. By contrast, while it may at times seem very delayed, what the righteous desire will in the end be granted, to some extent in this life and then finally forever in the world to come.  

When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm for ever” (10:25).

Storms are bound to come in our lives. All we can do is be prepared for them: the storm of sickness, the storm of relational friction, the storm of disappointment, the storm of joblessness. And the way to be prepared for them is by developing a Christlike character. The righteous stand firm forever!  

As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so are sluggards to those who send them” (10:26).

There is little more frustrating than sending a message or delegating a task to someone who can’t be bothered to take the action required to get the job done. If you want to be well employed all your life, learn to work hard!  

The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short” (10:27).

There certainly are people who feared God who did not live a long life, but generally, and in most cases, fearing God will add years to your life.  

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing” (10:28).

Again, look at the different life patterns of the one who follows God versus the one who does not. Joy for the righteous! Disillusion and disappointment, nothing and nihilism are the end of the wicked.  

The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil” (10:29).

For those who trust in God and follow God with integrity of heart—blameless by real faith—God is a refuge. But for those who reject God, then their way only comes to ruin.  

The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land” (10:30).

How glorious is this thought! The righteous will never be uprooted. Trust God, follow him, and you can be sure that there is an eternity of security for you! And again, however much the wicked seem to be doing well at the moment, they will not remain in the land.  

From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced” (10:31).

See the effect of wisdom upon the speech: the fruit of wisdom from the righteous speech, but a tongue that is perverse will be silenced.  

The lips of the righteous know what finds favor, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse” (10:32).

And again, the righteous’ speech is marked and characterized by its fruit. This time, it is able to speak in a way that finds favor, whereas those who reject God only speak in a way that is perverse. There is a connection between character and speech, between speech and fruitfulness of life.  

Once again, the overall lesson of the chapter is to seek wisdom!


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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