Assuming that the Lord will soon return to take away His saints, it could very well be that we will still be looking at the Book of Proverbs at His “parousia” – His presence or coming. And I might guarantee that if we continue to look at only one or two verses every week. If there are another 21 chapters of 30 verses each studied in pairs, we could be looking at the last verses of chapter 31 well into the year 2022. That would not necessarily be a bad thing, but I’m not sure how profitable it would be. As I say, I think the Lord will be here before we get to June 2022.
So we may look at larger chunks of these proverbs, and then again we sometimes we may not. Tonight I’d like to follow a pair of thoughts as they proceed through the rest of Proverbs 10. In the process we may skip over verses which you think are more important than others. But next week we may come back to some of them, and then again, maybe we will not.
Tonight let’s compare what Solomon says about “prating lips” versus the lips of the wise person. Once again, we will start at the low end before ending on a more positive note.
The lips of the prating fool.
Verse 8 – “The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.” When was the last time you used the word “prate” or “prating”? That’s the sort of word which requires an original Websters. Only voracious readers ever hear that word, and the newer dictionaries might not have it. However Google says that it has made a come back recently after years of disuse. Webster says that to “prate” is to “talk much but without weight, or to little purpose; to be loquacious; the vulgar express it, to run on.” I would say that some intelligent people are loquacious, but the little three-year-old prates – talking unceasingly because she likes the sound of her own voice. “The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.” Why will he fall? Because he likes the sound of his own voice, rather than the instruction of the Holy Spirit. “He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall.”
This word “prating” is found only twice in God’s Word and here we have both of them. But the Hebrew word is very common and quite interesting. It is most often translated “lip” – 112 times – but it is also rendered “language” and “speech.” Here is where it gets interesting – its second most common rendition is “bank” – the bank of a river. It is also translated “shore,” “brink,” “border” and “side.” All of which suggest to me that the “prating fool” is on the lip or brink of falling into the river. Isn’t that what Solomon said, “The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.”
I may be unique, and your testimony may be different, but I have been more destructive in my speech than in anything else I do or have done. My driving may not be perfect, but I’ve never caused a major accident – I’ve never hurt anyone. My skill with power equipment is almost non-existent, but I’ve never hurt myself with a drill or a saw. I can use a kitchen stove and an outdoor grill, and I’ve never seriously burned myself. But I have hurt not only myself but others by stupid things that I have said. And most of you are aware of that. Solomon is telling us to guard our tongues.
Verse 11 – “Violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.” This is a repeat of verse 6. Gill says this means that nothing good can come out of that evil mouth. Lying, swearing, deceit – filthy communication – cover and proceed out of the mouth of the prating fool. Verse 14 – “the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.” How many criminals have accidentally condemned themselves when interrogated? When someone is telling the truth, there is only one story to tell – the facts, the truth. But when someone is trying to lie, eventually a skilled interrogator can get the liar to alter his statement just slightly. Once that first slip of the mouth has been made, it is only a matter of time, before there are others. And the mouth of that foolish person brings him near destruction. The point is – don’t try to break the rule – speak in moderation and always tell the truth.
Verse 18 – “He that uttereth a slander is a fool.” Its an election year – there is always another election year coming up. The two candidates are going at it toe to toe and neither is pulling ahead in the polls. So what do they do in order to win? Slander their opponent. In our modern, wicked world, the candidate who can slander best often wins the election. He may appear to be a genius. But the slanderer is actually a fool, because it is not the electorate who will make the final judgment on that candidate. Our lies, slander, gossip and deceit are all uttered before the omniscient God – Judge of Heaven and earth. “He that uttereth a slander is a fool.”
Perhaps verse 19 is the key to explaining the problems of this prating fool. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin.” The prating fool runs off at the mouth, and eventually his foolish heart will be exposed. Have you ever had the opportunity to sit down with an old friend whom you haven’t seen in a long time. You have a couple hours to spend, so you start with the usual topics of conversation, until you begin to run out those old standbys. Eventually you find yourself trying to keep up; there is a conversational contest – you have to offer a little more and a little more just to stay even with what appears to be that person’s perfect life. And before you know it, you are talking about things which you shouldn’t – personal things or perhaps gossip. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin.” If you hadn’t said so much you wouldn’t have been so foolish.
“The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness – the froward tongue shall be cut out.” In contrast to what is acceptable, prating lips are forward – perverse – wicked. Froward lips are offensive, and if not to society, they are to God and therefore “shall be cut out.” That filthy-mouthed comedian or actor may live to be a hundred and blaspheme every day of his life. But in the end the Lord will silence him. Solomon is saying, “don’t be like that fool.”
In contrast to him we are told about what our lips should be.
Verse 11 – “the mouth of a righteous man is a well of life.” He not only walks uprightly and stumbles not – but he has something worth-while to share with others. He is a fountain of sweet-tasting nectar – a fountain of life – sharing the Water of Life – Christ Jesus the Lord. “In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found.” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
As a general rule, the more wise a person is the more exact and helpful his words will be. And as a result the less he will need to speak. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” How many times has our heart yearned to lash out with an appropriate response to someone, but no matter what we said, the situation just got worse? Many times, no response is far better than other kind.
“The tongue of the just is as choice silver” – verse 20. What do you suppose was the most valuable object or material in Solomon’s world? I imagine that he knew nothing of platinum or any of the super-rare minerals and elements. So my guess would be that to Solomon and the people of his day gold would be the most valuable. And just under that would be silver – not copper, not iron, not tin. “The tongue of the just is as choice silver.” Why silver? Would Solomon say that the heart of the justified soul is as choice gold, but coming right after that would be the tongue of the just man – silver? Do I have a tongue that matches my heart? Do we?
“The lips of the righteous feed many.” Do our lips and words feed, strengthen, uplift and help others, or do we bring people down? Examine the effect that you have on people before the Lord does it for you. Can we lawfully say that if, rather than feeding others, we bring them down, then we are not living righteously and wisely?
Verse 31 – “The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom… The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable.” When it comes to the computer, the word processor, the spread sheet and the logic program – there is an old but true saying ,– “garbage in and garbage out.” The same holds true of human lips, whether the prating fool or the righteous believer. Generally speaking, the mouth speaks what the heart believes – what the heart contains – what the heart is. Matthew 12:34 – “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” If we profess to be good people, righteous people, godly people – then we need to make sure that our mouths give evidence of that reality.