The word of the Lord teaches us the ways of life that are not only good for us but fulfilling. Yes, there are people around that are trouble, but how much better if we don’t rail back at them in response and put away rash words that cut and destroy. How much better if we instead exercise wisdom in Proverbs 12:18 (LEB) “There is one who speaks rashly, like the thrust of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”. How much better if we are peacemakers, not only so there is peace around us, but doing the work to bring peace actually creates joy in us in Proverbs 12:20b (LEB) “but to those who plan peace, there is joy”. Getting a better outcome and interacting with others though often comes with some cost. It says it this way in Proverbs 14:4 (LEB) “When there are no oxen the manger is empty, but an abundance of crops comes by the strength of an ox”. We may gain strength through relationships but there is always some mess to clean with it.
The Tongue of the Wise Brings Healing
Haven’t we all felt the sharpness of words spoken by someone in anger or reacting badly as described here, speaking rashly in
Proverbs 12:18 (LEB) There is one who speaks rashly, like the thrust of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
These rash words are likened to a sword that cuts and like the cutting of a sword, it takes time for us to heal from the wound of words. This is why we are told to take on the armor of God, the shield of faith in
Ephesians 6:16 (LEB) in everything taking up the shield of faith, with which you are able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one,
and also why we are told to guard our hearts in
Proverbs 4:23 (LEB) With all vigilance, keep your heart, for from it comes the source of life.
How much more welcome is the kind word of encouragement, words spoken to help us recover and overcome. Or “to know how to help” in
Isaiah 50:4 (LEB) The Lord Yahweh has given me the tongue of a pupil, to know how to help the weary with a word. He awakens morning by morning, awakens an ear for me to listen as do the pupils.
To Those Who Plan Peace There is Joy
As much as we may want everyone to get along, the reality is that there are people around us that are trouble. These, “the wicked are filled with trouble” in Proverbs 12:21 and “Deceit is in the heart of those who plan evil” in Proverbs 12:20. This way of living causes trouble for everyone but eventually, “the way of the wicked will lead them astray” in Proverbs 12:26.
There is another way for us to live and that is in the ways of the Lord. If we are honest and upright and seeking good for those around us we not only get good results, we feel good about doing it in
Proverbs 12:20b (LEB) but to those who plan peace, there is joy.
He Who Keeps His Mouth Guards His Life
Desire Fulfilled is a Tree of Life
Where There Are no Oxen the Manger is Empty
There is in our nature a satisfaction that comes from completing a task. We are creative beings and we like to see the results of our work. So, there is a simple difference between the wise and foolish in
Proverbs 14:1 (LEB) The wisest of women builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her hands.
It is good for us to build up and encourage. Why would anyone complain and degrade and belittle and tear down?
There is though another truth and one that isn’t so simple to deal with. The archaic expression that would be easily understood in an agrarian culture is in
Proverbs 14:4 (LEB) When there are no oxen the manger is empty, but an abundance of crops comes by the strength of an ox.
The first part of this is that there is a real physical limit to what I can do with my own hands. And, if I can add the strength of an ox, I can do much more and “have an abundance”.
It is the second part that is harder to deal with and this is that oxen require food and tending and their food ends up on the floor of the stall (the manger) for someone to clean up.
We are social creatures and it is good for us to have others around us, not just for social engagement, but we actually make each other more productive. We can do more together than we can alone. But, there is this other problem that comes with other people and that is the mess that must be cleaned up. It is the wise that builds and deals with the mess but the foolish only complains about the mess.
- Proverbs 12:10-19 The Tongue of the Wise Brings Healing
- Proverbs 12:20-28 To Those Who Plan Peace There is Joy
- Proverbs 14:1-12 Where There Are no Oxen the Manger is Empty
- Proverbs 12:10-28
- Proverbs 13:1-25
- Proverbs 14:1-12