Proverbs 18

Proverbs 18
By Pastor David Groendyk

One of the major themes of this chapter is speech. I count no fewer than 11 out of the 24 verses that relate to speaking or listening to someone speak. What does godly, wise speech look like? What advice should we take away from Solomon? Verse 21 is an apt and concise summary: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Tremendous good or bad can be produced by our speech, and so the wise one will guard his lips. How can we guard our lips in order to produce life rather than death?
• Verse 2—ask lots of questions before you express your opinion; you probably definitely have less understanding than you think!
• Verse 4—learn how to draw truth out of a person, because the words someone speaks are the tip of the iceberg of their heart (see also Prov. 20:5)
• Verses 6–7—someone who talks incessantly is bound to get him- or herself into trouble, and the consequences can ruin you
• Verse 8—though gossiping words taste delicious either to say or hear, stay away from it; gossip is one of the ways a fool ruins his life (vv. 6–7)
• Verse 13—be quick to listen and slow to speak; spend more time gathering information in order to understand rather than trying to give advice
• Verse 15—set your heart to learn and understand, and be careful to listen diligently when someone speaks
• Verse 17—do not rush to judgment; wait until all the facts come out (do you see the prevailing message in verses 2, 13, 15, and 17 yet?)
• Verses 20–21—you will receive the due consequences for your speech, so be very careful how you use your words
• Verse 23—humbly ask and request rather than roughly or proudly demand
There is nothing shocking about any of these proverbs, but they are very difficult to put into practice. Words are important. By words, God created the universe (Heb. 11:3). By words, we bring the gospel to our neighbors and the world. By words, Christ will pronounce forgiveness or damnation on Judgment Day. Words are powerful! Do not treat them lightly. Where in society do you see either death or life being produced by foolish or wise words? Where in your life could you better conform to this chapter of God’s Word?

Another verse worth meditating on today is verse 24. On the face of it, it seems straightforward. Simply having a truckload of friends doesn’t mean that you’re surrounded by good or helpful company. Better to have a friend who sticks with you through thick and thin than to have a hundred friends who scatter at the first sign of trouble. Most fully, we see these truths modeled in Jesus and his life. At the end of his life, his 12 closest friends deserted and betrayed him. Yet, he remained faithful to them. Despite his friends leaving him to die in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faithfully continued his march to the cross to win eternal life for his disciples. And, although we continually stray from him and forsake him, Jesus Christ will never leave or forsake us. He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. What kind of hope and strength should that give you today? In light of Jesus’ example, what kind of friend should we be to our brothers and sisters in Christ?