15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. 16 Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. 17 An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies. 18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. 19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. 20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy. 21 No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. (Prov. 12:15-21 NIV)
15 The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice.
A fool is so sure that he is right, and all others are wrong that he won’t listen to advice. He won’t seek advice, if anyone tries to offer advice he won’t listen. This demonstrates a very resolute and stubborn person. This kind of person has shut himself up to a view of the world limited to his own perspective. The opposite is the case with the wise man, he will listen to advice. Though he possesses wisdom, he is still ready to listen to others. His wisdom doesn’t make him arrogant because of his knowledge, it keeps him humble because he realises how much he still has to learn.
16 Fools show their annoyance at once,
but the prudent overlook an insult.
The fool shows himself for what he is, revealing his heart through his unrestrained anger. The fool thinks highly of himself and cannot cope with anyone challenging or contradicting him. The word ‘annoyance’ describes an agitated, provoked, stirred up, emotionally volatile state of heart. The fool gives himself no time to reflect on what has been said, no time to put into perspective what has been said and by whom. Many times insults and accusation are not worth responding to, especially when they come from someone who has a reputation for this type of behaviour. The prudent or wise person conceals his level of hurt. It is not that he suppresses his feelings, he just takes time to think over whether the circumstance requires a response and what the best response would be.
17 An honest witness tells the truth,
but a false witness tells lies.
This proverb has a courtroom scene in view. Quite literally the verse could be translated ‘breathes the truth’ as if it is the most natural thing for an honest wise person to breathe out the truth. The Lord loves truth and righteousness, and the wise person must always speak the truth. As natural as it is for the honest person to speak truth, so it is second nature for the false witness to speak lies. The witness should not put a spin on an issue or event, but to simply state as plainly as possible the facts as they relate to the questions asked. Sadly, many politicians when they are speaking about the political party they oppose, will use emotive language which is intended not to get at the truth but to sway people’s emotions. When they are being interviewed, they will have a soundbite simple answer that they will keep repeating irrespective of what the question is.
18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
There is no thought given to the words that the reckless person is about to deliver. There is no forethought or concern about the damage that might be done with the words. The words are like swords that pierce their victim. There is no concern what effect the words will have upon the relationship. Like a mad man flailing away with a sword in a crowd of innocent people, so is the person who does not measure and control his words. These words wound many people and emanate from a spiteful heart. In contrast the wise person carefully measures his words, and they are designed to bring healing rather than harm. This is a great challenge to us as we think about the words that we use.
19 Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
The person who speaks truth will have his words endure forever. The lying tongue speaks from a mindset that plans harm and the downfall of others. They speak their lying words believing that they have inflicted lasting damage to their victim. Only justice and righteousness will endure, and the momentary feeling of triumph people feel after they have delivered their harmful missive is only ever momentary.
20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,
but those who promote peace have joy.
What we can learn from these proverbs is how God knows the heart and how a record is kept of these sins and the assurance that this will all be dealt with. The birthplace of the evil is in the heart. There is no real joy in this kind of life. Wise people who promote peace will have a sense of joy and satisfaction in life.
21 No harm overtakes the righteous,
but the wicked have their fill of trouble.
This is a general rule about life. Righteousness and wisdom is always the wise way to live. Those who are wicked will discover trouble in their lives.
Lord God our heavenly Father we see how wickedness and evil corrupt. Help us to purge all evil out of our lives so that we do not embrace that which You clearly detest. Where we have failed forgive us. Help us to guard our hearts and the words that flow from out hearts. May our words bring healing to others and encourage them in their faith. We ask this in our Saviour’s name. Amen.