8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. 9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. 10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin. 11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. (Prov. 10:8-11 NIV)
8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.
Wisdom is demonstrated in one’s response to authority. We have lost respect for authority in our society. Politicians speak in a rude and angry way to and about other politicians who happen to have a different view. Instead of setting a good example to the public, the politicians’ behaviour leads the public to mimic this anger. The wise person accepts authority and accepts commands, otherwise when authority is rejected, then anarchy results. We need to be careful that we don’t allow that spirit of rebellion to overtake us and we start to mimic the ways of the world in how we conduct ourselves.
The fool stands in contrast as one who is unteachable, and through his babbling talk speaks as though he is the authority. The fool expects his view to be taken as the final say on the matter. But the Teacher tells us that the fool will come to ruin.
9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
Walking in integrity is the desire to bring all of life into harmony with God and others. When our walk in life is a walk of integrity then we have nothing to fear. There is nothing hidden, no crime to be reported or allegation to be made. Of course, this doesn’t stop lies being told or false allegations being made, but before the eyes of God and in the judgement of God, those who walk in integrity are secure.
Those who choose crooked paths will eventually be found out. There is always the fear of being found out. Many wicked people seek to remove witnesses or anyone who can testify against them. They compound their evil because of fear of being caught. Their way is not secure. They may have some measure of success in covering their tracks so that they are not found out by people, but they have already been found out by God and one day they will face God.
10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.
This is the first proverb in the chapter that is not antithetical, it doesn’t have a contrast. These two lines are more like a comparison. The first line describes someone who covertly seeks to communicate a message to one person that is different to the message that they are conveying to another. The one who winks does so maliciously and with delight in the ruse that they are attempting to pull off, to trick, entrap or harm a person, and they are letting others in on what it is they are attempting to do.
The second line is similar. The first line speaks of the harm inflicted on others, the second line speaks of the harm inflicted on oneself.
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
This describes the words spoken by the righteous. They are wholesome and truthful and promote life, harmony and peace. The fountain of life describes an abundance of life. The words of the righteous give and keep on giving. The metaphor ‘a fountain of life’ was quite poignant at that time in that culture as they were frequently beset with droughts and famines. The metaphor is used again in the NT as Jesus spoke of the salvation that He would give:
“Whoever believes in me”, as Scripture has said, “rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (Jn. 7:38 NIV)
“but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14 NIV)
In contrast what comes out of the mouth of the wicked yields no good to anyone, not even to himself. His words are deceitful because they hide the violent intent.
Lord God we acknowledge that You have placed the authorities in our land in place in order that we might be able to live orderly lives. Lord help us to protect our hearts and minds so that we do not reject these authorities. Help us to ultimately yield to Your authority over us because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.