Proverbs 16:22

Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.
– Proverbs 16:22

The word for understanding means prudence, or good sense. It appears several times in Proverbs and throughout the Old Testament. It was the word used to describe Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:3. We would say she had a good head on her shoulders. Practical wisdom is a life giving blessing (Proverbs 3:22; 14:30), as wellspring of life indicates (Proverbs 10:11; 13:14; 14:27; 18:4). The second phrase is a contrast to the life giving blessing of wisdom. The word for instruction means chastisement, or reproof. Such correction coming from fools is useless, worthless (Proverbs 15:2, 28). If we press the antithetical parallel further, rather than giving life, folly leads to destruction and death (Proverbs 5:23; 14:1).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 16:21

The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.
– Proverbs 16:21

Being called prudent means the wise are recognized for their wisdom. The word for prudent means discernment and reflects the ability to distinguish things in the mind to arrive at accurate perception and understanding. The prudent are able to understand dark sayings and difficult words (Proverbs 1:5-6). His way is thoughtful and examined, and so he perceives and avoids danger (Proverbs 14:8, 15-16). The word for sweetness means pleasantness. It could be thought of as eloquence, but since it increaseth learning, it is more likely something well-stated. The word for learning means teaching and includes the idea of persuasiveness. The summary truth of the proverb is that men known for wisdom will have influence with their words. They are worth paying attention to (Proverbs 16:23; 1:5; 8:33; 19:20; 22:17; 23:19).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 16:14

The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.
– Proverbs 16:14

A king is in a position of power, which means he has great power to do good or evil (Proverbs 19:12). It is unwise then to provoke a king or powerful leader (Proverbs 20:2). This power can give way to a tyrant using it for his own whims and purposes. The word for pacify is a word used for atonement, or covering. The wise man seeks to cover, or alleviate the wrath of a king. Wisdom seeks peace rather than inciting strife (Proverbs 25:15).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 15:31

The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
– Proverbs 15:31

The last three proverbs of chapter 15 touch generally on being teachable and receptive to instruction and reproof. The word for reproof means a correction, or rebuke. Reproof is one of wisdom’s primary instruments (Proverbs 1:23; 6:23). Here it is life giving and puts one among the wise. Abiding among the wise increases wisdom (Proverbs 13:20;19:20).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 15:24

The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
– Proverbs 15:24

The wisdom of Proverbs reveals there are ultimately only two ways—the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is the way of wisdom, instruction, and correction (Proverbs 6:23; 10:17). It is the way that delivers from death (Proverbs 12:28; 14:23). The word for above means upward, or higher. It is contrasted with hell beneath, which is sheol, or the realm of the dead. It is the end of the way of folly as seen in the warnings against the way of the strange woman (Proverbs 2:18; 5:5; 7:27).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 15:12

A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.
– Proverbs 15:12

The scorner is at the hard end of folly. His obstinacy keeps him from wisdom (Proverbs 14:6). He hates reproof, and therefore will not go to or with the wise (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1). He refuses two primary means of receiving wisdom—reproof (Proverbs 3:11-12) and having wise companions (Proverbs 2:20; 13:20).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 15:7

The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.
– Proverbs 15:7

The contrast between lips and heart causes difficulty among commentators. The heart is put for the mind and lips obviously refer to speech. There is a similar contrast in Proverbs 10:20. The wise will spread knowledge with their lips because they have wisdom (Proverbs 14:18). The heart, or mind, of the foolish is not filled with wisdom, so they obviously cannot speak or spread wisdom (Proverbs 10:21). Fools pursue folly and take delight in it (Proverbs 15:21). He takes in folly like a panting dog licking up water and dirt (Proverbs 15:14). He in turn pours out folly because that is what he has (Proverbs 13:16; 15:2).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 15:2

The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
– Proverbs 15:2

The tongue and mouth here are figures for speech, spoken words. The word for useth … aright means skillfully, or to do well. The words a wise man uses are thoughtful and deliberately chosen (Proverbs 15:28; 16:23). He has control over his tongue, which means his words will also be fewer (Proverbs 17:28). The contrast is with fools who poureth out, or gush forth, foolishness. Fools are quick to speak, which means their words are thoughtless (Proverbs 29:20). Fools also pour out a great quantity of words without restraint (Proverbs 10:19; 15:28; 29:11; Ecclesiastes 10:14).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 14:35

The king’s favor is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.
– Proverbs 14:35

This proverb is a truism, or a general rule that competence and diligence are rewarded (Proverbs 22:29). People often think that promotion comes to a person because of luck, connections, or back room dealings. Those things do happen, but we generally receive what we have earned, or reap what we sow (Proverbs 17:2). The two phrases show both sides—favor and wrath. A servant causes shame by being unreliable, lazy, incompetent, etc. (Proverbs 10:5). Everyone makes mistakes and has to learn from them. The servant who does this will be rewarded with favor, and the obstinate servant with wrath (Proverbs 13:18).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

« Previous PageNext Page »