The book of Proverbs teaches us how to live wisely. And wise living starts with acknowledging that true knowledge begins with fearing the Lord (1:7).
Proverbs 11 begins with the observation that God is interested in the lives of His people, even in the way they conduct their business dealings (v. 1). There are no areas of our lives that are outside His interest or His rule! The Lord delights in honesty in His people, for He is truth. He detests dishonesty, for there is no falsehood in Him
Honesty and using accurate weights (v. 1) reflect righteousness-a topic that dominates Proverbs 11. And righteousness comes when we are in the right with God; this shows itself in a new lifestyle that includes honesty (v. 1), humility (v. 2), integrity (v. 3), uprightness (v. 11), trustworthiness (v. 13), and blamelessness (v. 20). Such a lifestyle is a hallmark of God’s grace and a life redeemed.
This chapter is full of contrasts, and verse 3 is a typical example. It compares the upright, who trust in the Lord and live by His ways, and the wicked, who are duplicitous. These two ways produce opposite results: the first will receive the blessing of life, while the second will ultimately come to nothing (v. 19). All the wicked will find is death.
The righteous have hope of a future (vv. 4, 18, 19, 21, 23); this hope and sense of accountability drive their generosity (vv. 24-25) and give them a proper view of riches (v. 28). The people of God respond with kindness, not ruthlessness or cruelty (vv. 16-17), and do not hoard for themselves (v. 26). As preacher Charles Spurgeon once put it: ″The smoke of the chimney is as solid as the comfort of riches.″3
Proverbs 11 shows that all will be judged for their deeds (vv. 4, 6, 8, 19, 21, 23, 28, 31). The wise will be vindicated and delivered, while the wicked will be punished. Some of these consequences may be seen in their lifetimes (e.g. vv. 3, 5, 6, 17), while some will take place after (vv. 4, 7, 19, 21).
While Proverbs 11 does not say who is doing the judging, we know that God is the ultimate judge who will hold all to account (Genesis 18:25;Psalm 9:7-8). God, who is righteous, will bless the righteous and punish the wicked-if not in this life, then certainly after (Proverbs 11:21). There is no area of our lives that are not under His Lordship. We cannot live one way in public and another in private; all parts of our lives are lived before Him.
3Charles Spurgeon, ″A Drama in Five Acts″, sermon no. 481, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 8 (1862)
List down what Proverbs 11 says about what God delights in and what He detests. How can this guide you in your attitude and in what you do?
Think about what this chapter says about wealth, kindness, the tongue, and hope. Which one is most relevant for you today?