1 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son, heartache to his mother. 2 Ill-gotten gains do not profit anyone, but righteousness rescues from death. 3 The Lord will not let the righteous go hungry, but he denies the wicked what they crave. 4 Idle hands make one poor, but diligent hands bring riches. 5 The son who gathers during summer is prudent; the son who sleeps during harvest is disgraceful. 6 Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. 7 The remembrance of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot. 8 A wise heart accepts commands, but foolish lips will be destroyed. 9 The one who lives with integrity lives securely, but whoever perverts his ways will be found out. 10 A sly wink of the eye causes grief, and foolish lips will be destroyed. 11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. 12 Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses. 13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense. 14 The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of the fool hastens destruction. 15 The wealth of the rich is his fortified city; the poverty of the poor is their destruction. 16 The reward of the righteous is life; the wages of the wicked is punishment. 17 The one who follows instruction is on the path to life, but the one who rejects correction goes astray. 18 The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool. 19 When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is prudent. 20 The tongue of the righteous is pure silver; the heart of the wicked is of little value. 21 The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. 22 The Lord’s blessing enriches, and he adds no painful effort to it. 23 As shameful conduct is pleasure for a fool, so wisdom is for a person of understanding. 24 What the wicked dreads will come to him, but what the righteous desire will be given to them. 25 When the whirlwind passes, the wicked are no more, but the righteous are secure forever. 26 Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so the slacker is to the one who sends him on an errand. 27 The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. 28 The hope of the righteous is joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. 29 The way of the Lord is a stronghold for the honorable, but destruction awaits the malicious. 30 The righteous will never be shaken, but the wicked will not remain on the earth. 31 The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out. 32 The lips of the righteous know what is appropriate, but the mouth of the wicked, only what is perverse. — Proverbs 10
Various Aspects of Wisdom
It was a hot August day in east Tennessee, and our old Plymouth station wagon was packed so tightly that my father would have only the use of the side mirrors on our five-hour trip to Nashville. My mom and I were sitting at the kitchen table having one last breakfast before I became a college student.
“I have something for you,” Mom said, placing a floral wrapped package in front of me.
I swallowed my orange juice and unwrapped the gift to find a thick, brown study Bible.
My mother beamed at me and shared with excitement, “You know, there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs! And there are 31 days in the longest of months. I know you’ll be busy, but maybe you can read a proverb a day.”
My mother’s not-so-subtle and beautiful way of keeping me in the Word during my college years was also a reminder to seek wisdom.
Wisdom can be most clearly assessed in the area of decision-making. A step beyond sheer intelligence, wisdom is evidenced as we encounter life situations. Whether we are deciding on the purchase of a car, or making a career change, or becoming romantically involved with someone, we will look back and assess our choices as wise or unwise. Proverbs 10 juxtaposes the choices and consequences that characterize either a wise person or a foolish person. Their wisdom, or lack thereof, is evident in their daily choices. The words “wise,” “godly,” and “righteous” are used interchangeably, as are the words “foolish,” “lazy,” and “wicked,” implying that there is more to wisdom than just the ability to reason well. Wisdom has a moral and spiritual aspect.
Dr. Thomas Lombardo, professor of psychology at the University of Mississippi, defines wisdom in his essay “A Virtue Theory of Wisdom.” He writes, “Wisdom is the highest expression of self-development and future consciousness. It is the continually evolving understanding of and fascination with the big picture of life, of what is important, ethical, and meaningful, and the desire and creative capacity to apply this understanding to enhance the good life (a life that flourishes), both for oneself and others.”
We see this in the wise person of Proverbs 10 who is industrious, who plans for the future, and who serves God and others. Consequently, he is blessed with prosperity, long life, and a good reputation. A foolish person is lazy, shortsighted, and corrupt. His future leads to hunger, disease, and ruin.
So what is the source of wisdom? Certainly, life experience contributes substantially to our ability to make wise, ethical decisions. Forward thinking with the ability to learn from the past, along with thoughtful risk taking, are the hallmarks of wisdom. But there is more to it. Real empathy for one’s fellow man and the desire to treat others well defines a truly wise person. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). According to God’s Word, wisdom is not merely self-serving. A wise person considers others. We grow in wisdom as we interact with others and as we love and allow ourselves to be loved in return.
- Read the book of Proverbs, keeping in mind that King Solomon was the author of most of the proverbs. What may have driven him to share his wisdom? From what we know historically and biblically about his life, what may have contributed to his great wisdom?
- Spend time with someone older than yourself. Even if you don’t ask pointed questions, allowing yourself to BE with someone who has had more life experiences will give you insight into your own life and choices.
- Accept your poor decisions…especially those which lead to messy consequences. Though we all seek to avoid discomfort, it is usually in the painful moments that we learn the most and cultivate empathy for others.
Beth is married to Andy Brown and has three grown children. She received her Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing from Vanderbilt University. She was involved in the children's ministry for six years at Brentwood Baptist and taught preschool for thirteen years at Forest Hills Baptist. Recently presented with a new challenge, she now works in the recruiting and staffing industry. Proverbs 16:3 has always been a source of encouragement and trust for her: "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established."
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.