Proverbs 18 offers several notable observations about God, our speech, marriage, and friendship. In contrast to the people we should seek, there are also several types we should avoid.
The security of God’s name: Verses 10-11 compare the name of God with the wealth of the rich. God’s name means His person, character, and attributes; the righteous who depend on Him will find true safety and security. The rich, on the other hand, trust in their wealth, imagining it to be unassailable. But this is a false sense of security, as we have seen in previous comparisons of wealth and righteousness.
Watching one’s words: Two complementary observations are made about the tongue. Verses 6-7 describe how a fool talks himself into trouble, while verses 20-21 note how a wise person’s speech benefits him. Together, they warn us to be careful with our speech, for the tongue has great potential for good or ill-″the power of life and death″ (v. 21). When thinking about whether one should speak, the old maxim, ″When in doubt, don’t″, is worth remembering.
Marriage: Finding a wife is a good thing, according to verse 22. It will involve effort and searching, but it is worth it! This proverb can be seen in the light of God’s gift of a helpmate to Adam (Genesis 2:18-20), when God noted that ″it is not good for the man to be alone″.
Friendship: Fair-weather friends are of no use to a man, compared to those who stick by him through thick and thin (Proverbs 18:24). This proverb puts together the warning of 19:4-″wealth attracts many friends″-and the encouraging advice of 17:17, ″A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.″ A true friend is constant and loyal; it is a boon to have one and to be one.
This chapter of Proverbs also talks about several types of people we should avoid:
- The unfriendly man, whose sole area of interest is himself (18:1). Such a man never asks for advice and wants only to do things his own way; not surprisingly, he is likely to start quarrels.
- The fool, who like the unfriendly man, also has no interest in receiving knowledge; he is only interested in airing his own opinion (v. 2). Such a man, notes Derek Kidner in his commentary on Proverbs, has a ″closed mind″ but ″open mouth″.6
- The gossip, whose words are tantalising (v. 8). These ″choice morsels″ are savoured and digested, and will likely be well remembered-even though they may be based on hearsay.
- The slacker, who harms himself and society either through his lack of productivity or his sloppy and careless work (v. 9). Here he is being compared to the man who destroys; both their works have similar effect.
- The person who is offended-whether a relative or friend-with whom it is very difficult to restore former intimacies (v. 19). In noting that trying to win him back is like trying to conquer a well-defended city, this proverb is stressing the impact of serious disputes.
6Kidner, Proverbs (2009), 127
What have you learnt from the times of difficulty in your life? How do you think God is purifying you in such times ?
What strategies could help you ″drop the matter″ in an argument? How can you avoid letting quarrels turn into full-blown disputes?