Proverbs 23:23

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
– Proverbs 23:23

This verse gives a fatherly saying that is be hearkened to. The word for truth means certainty, and so it points to reality, what is truly true. To buy and not sell means to labor to acquire wisdom and to retain it. The word for wisdom means skill, like that of a craftsman or tradesman, and can be put for shrewdness. The word for instruction means discipline, and can range from teaching to correcting, or even chastisement. The word for understanding means discernment and indicates the ability to distinguish between. The four words here represent the necessary equipment for going in the right way, or living a godly life. Proverbs consistently urges the necessity of seeking, cost of acquiring, and value of having wisdom (Proverbs 2:2-4; 4:5-7; 16:16).

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Proverbs 22:21

That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightiest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
– Proverbs 22:21

This verse explains and expands on the verse before it, and concludes Solomon’s introduction to “The Words of the Wise.” Various benefits of wisdom appear throughout Proverbs. Here, the method of instruction is to the end of establishing the learner in truth, so he may in turn speak truly to others. The wisdom to be a faithful messenger is one application of this verse (Proverbs 25:13). More generally, the one who acquires wisdom is equipped to impart wisdom to others.

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Proverbs 20:28

Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.
– Proverbs 20:28

The word for mercy is the Hebrew word, hesed. The word appears well over 200 times in the Old Testament and has a range of meaning difficult to capture in a single English word. The KJV follows the Septuagint in most often rendering it as mercy, but also sometimes as kindness, lovingkindness, and goodness. Vine’s Dictionary notes three basic meanings inherent in the word: strength, steadfastness, and love. Mounce defined it as, “unfailing love, loyal love, devotion, kindness, often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship.” The word begins and ends the proverb.

The word for truth means stability, certainty, and also conveys an idea of trustworthy, or faithful. Both are spoken of God in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 25:10) as exemplar, and urged upon kings in their derivative authority. The king is to be a righteous and merciful upholder of justice and by these his throne is established (Proverbs 16:12; 21:7; 29:14). Mercy and truth secure the kingdom and establish the conditions for human flourishing by mirroring the righteous reign of Yahweh (Proverbs 29:2).

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Proverbs 14:22

Do they not err that devise evil? But mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.
– Proverbs 14:22

The word for err means to go astray and to devise is to plot or plan. The first phrase refers to the outcome of their plans. They go astray because they plan evil. These are not accidentally or carelessly getting into the wrong way, but are plotting and contriving wickedness (Proverbs 3:29; 6:14). The phrase, mercy and truth, speaks of God’s favor and blessing (Psalm 25:10; 61:7). Here it is the outcome or reward that comes to those who devise good.

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Proverbs 12:22

Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
– Proverbs 12:22

A lying tongue is on the famous list of what the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16-17). The word for abomination means hateful or detestable. The contrast is with those who deal truly. This casts the proverb in light of the habits or practice of those who deal falsely or truly. The latter is the delight, or pleasure, of the Lord.

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Proverbs 12:19

The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
– Proverbs 12:19

The lip of truth and the lying tongue are obviously put for a contrast between true and false words. True words endure, have lasting value. False words are momentary. They are usually spoken for some immediate purpose and not for lasting worth. Even if we think of cultural myths that perpetuate from one generation to the next, they will ultimately fall and truth will always stand (Proverbs 19:5, 9; Revelation 21:8).

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Proverbs 12:17

He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.
– Proverbs 12:17

The word for righteousness means justice and along with the term false witness, this proverb has a legal connotation. Speaking truth reliably manifests or upholds justice (Proverbs 14:5, 25). So the thought here includes consistency or reliability in those who speak truth. A false witness is more than one who lies. Their lies or deceit through omission perverts justice (Proverbs 19:28; 24:28).

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Proverbs 8:7

For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
– Proverbs 8:7

Wisdom continues explaining why she has called for attention to her words. The word for truth here is stable and reliable. The word for speaking is different from the previous verse. Here it means pondered or meditated speech. It isn’t rash or flippant speech. Wickedness is abhorrent to wisdom. The full picture suggests that wickedness is considered and found thoroughly disgusting and so put away from the lips.

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Proverbs 3:3

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
– Proverbs 3:3

Mercy and truth are often paired together and expressed of God’s faithfulness to his promises. In a sense the terms have to do with relation to man. Here they stand for uprightness in relation to our fellow man. Mercy is a selfless love and faithfulness. It is sometimes translated as steadfast love. Truth is opposed to falsehood and hypocrisy. It is for what is right. These are expressive of the integrity brought to one’s life by wisdom.

Solomon exhorts to not let them forsake or fail. In order to this, he commands them bound about your neck and written upon the table of your heart. The intent is not a literal writing or binding of the words on one’s body, but that they become a part of you through wisdom. Let them enter through wisdom and ever be a part of your character.

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