Proverbs 18:15

The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
– Proverbs 18:15

The word for knowledge means understanding, or learning. Getting and seeking knowledge means it can be increased. Our understanding and learning can, and should, grow. The proverb’s punch is in the seeming paradox. The prudent and the wise are seeking knowledge. The modern utilitarian mind wonders why they would do that if they are already wise and prudent. The word for prudent has to do with separating, or making distinctions. The word for wise means shrewd, skillful, or crafty. The first means having discernment—the ability to sort out the things learned. The second means being able to figure things out and make plans. They are continually looking and listening to acquire learning (Proverbs 1:5; 9:9; 15:14). Fools are only interested in what they think they need to know (Proverbs 14:6; 18:2; 26:12).

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Proverbs 18:14

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
– Proverbs 18:14

The word for spirit means wind, or breath. The word refers to the inner being of a man. Spirit and wounded spirit distinguishes between a whole, healthy state of being and a broken one. The word for wounded means smitten, or broken. A man with a healthy, positive state of being can bear up under physical infirmity more than the wounded spirit. Wisdom teaches one’s spirit, or state of mind, does affect the body (Proverbs 12:25; 15:13; 17:22).

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Proverbs 18:13

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
– Proverbs 18:13

The word for answereth means to turn back, or return. Here it speaks of making a reply to some matter, which is a word or something said. The word for heareth means to hear intelligently. The word refers to listening with understanding, or comprehension. The first phrase speaks of making a hasty reply, or we would say, jumping to conclusions. The proverb speaks of speaking on a matter without knowing what you are talking about and the parallel phrase plainly labels it folly. Such folly leads to shame, or disgrace. It is a disgrace to be so foolish as to speak to something we don’t understand. This proverb pairs well with Proverbs 18:2 and Proverbs 18:17.

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Proverbs 18:12

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
– Proverbs 18:12

To be haughty is to be lofty, or exalted, at least in one’s own eyes. Self-conceit primes one to be brought low (Proverbs 16:18; 26:12; 29:23). The second phrase appears in another proverb where humility is coupled with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 15:33). Wisdom brings honor, but that path leads through humility (Proverbs 3:16).

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Proverbs 18:11

The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.
– Proverbs 18:11

This proverb is linked to the previous one with similar images, though wealth is contrasted with the name of the Lord as safety. Wealth has benefits and offers protections of a sort on earth, but those are limited. Wealth in itself is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. Trusting in riches is to be ultimately confounded (Proverbs 11:4).

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Proverbs 18:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
– Proverbs 18:10

The name of the Lord refers to the full attributes of Yahweh. Israel was to trust in the name of the Lord to be delivered from Egypt (Exodus 3:13-15; 34:5-7). A strong tower is an unassailable defense. The believer in Christ is here sheltered from the destruction of his enemies (Psalm 18:2; 61:3-4). The running and safety of the righteous refers to a complete trust and rest in Yahweh (Psalm 56:3-4). Wisdom sees the strength of the unseen defense.

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Proverbs 18:9

He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.
– Proverbs 18:9

The word for slothful means to slacken, to be loose. The word for waster means a destroyer, or speaks of ruining. The lazy worker and the active destroyer belong to the same family. They are brothers, or in the same category. The result of each one’s work is ruin, though the waster intended that from the start and the sluggard did not. Sluggards have dreams and ambitions, but little to show for it (Proverbs 13:4; 21:25-26). Sluggards cannot get started to work on their ideas (Proverbs 6:9; 26:14), and once started, they cannot follow through and finish their work (Proverbs 12:27; 19:24; 26:15). Sluggards wake up one day to waste and loss (Proverbs 6:11). They end up the same place as the one who set out to destroy from the start.

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Proverbs 18:8

The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
– Proverbs 18:8

The word for wounds means to gulp down. The word is only used twice in the Hebrew text, here and in Proverbs 26:22, which is a word-for-word copy of this proverb. The whole proverb is a warning to the penetration of words. A talebearer is a slanderer, or gossiper. So gossip is eagerly gobbled up, and just as food is eaten and internalized, gossip goes to the innermost parts. Wisdom recognizes the natural bent and taste we have for gossip and slander, and also the effect they have on the soul. Refusing to hear a talebearer is the obvious implication (Proverbs 26:17, 20-21; 20:3).

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Proverbs 18:7

A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
– Proverbs 18:7

A fool’s speech betrays his lack of wisdom, but also brings him into trouble (Proverbs 12:13; 13:3). The word for snare refers to a noose for catching animals. The fool lays a trap for himself by his unrestrained and foolish speech. He is caught in the trap of his own making like the one who foolishly enters into suretyship (Proverbs 6:1-2).

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