1 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. 2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. 3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach. 4 The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream. 5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice. 6 The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating. (Prov. 18:1-6 NIV)
1 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
An unfriendly person is someone who has isolated themselves from other people. They serve their own selfish ends. This type of person will not listen to others. They may not distance themselves physically from a group, but they are emotionally distant. This person could receive wise counsel from the group, but they will not ask for help or be willing to receive advice. They seem to think they know best, and they show no respect towards others. The only time they will engage with others is to start a quarrel. One wonders why they stay with the group of people that they only want to quarrel with. This unhappy way of living comes from the neglect of wisdom, the neglect of learning the principles of God’s word.
2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.
The fool rejects the understanding that comes from God’s word. They have no pleasure or time to listen and study what God’s word has to say. They have strong opinions. These opinions are anti-biblical and they take great delight in sharing those opinions. They will usually be quite robust and practised in the power of their argument. There is very little that you can do to get through to them because they will have shut their minds off from learning or listening. Their own arguments serve to excuse their sinful behaviour.
3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
and with shame comes reproach.
Wickedness keeps bad company. The wicked despise wisdom and God’s word because that speaks against their sinful lifestyle. They ask, ‘why should anyone tell me how to live my life?’ They have outright contempt for God and for anyone who claims to follow God’s way because they know that God’s way rejects and disapproves of their way. They bring shame and reproach upon themselves. The ultimate reproach will be the judgement of God. They may not believe in God, but God believes in them!
4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
It is difficult to decide whether the first line is good or bad. Commentators are divided on this. I prefer to take a positive meaning and so understand it as meaning that the words come from a heart that has been informed by God’s wisdom. This gives content and depth to what has been said. Words coming forth from a wise heart are like a life-giving stream, promoting life and health and goodness.
5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked
and so deprive the innocent of justice.
To show favouritism to the wicked is not good. Why would anyone want to do that? It may be that the wicked have risen to a place of prominence and authority and in a way you revere the position that they have. It could also mean that the wicked are feared and out of fear we are prepared to be partial towards them. Showing favouritism to the wicked is at the expense of the righteous. The innocent are deprived of justice because favour was shown to the wicked.
6 The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
The words of a fool often bring him into trouble and can even end with physical attack. This does not justify physical violence, it is just an observation of what happens.
Lord help us to delight in Your word. Enable us by Your Holy Spirit to search our hearts and purge us from our opinions that are not based upon Your word, because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.