Proverbs 12 Commentary

Honest speech and honest work (12:1-28)

There are further proverbs on attitudes towards criticism (12:1-2; see notes on 9:7-9), the stability of the righteous (3) and the value of a good wife (4). The righteous, besides having good principles, have the courage to speak up at risk to themselves in order to save others (5-7).

If people live humbly and in keeping with their financial capacity, they may not achieve high social status, but at least they will remain free of debt. They are wiser than those who spend money lavishly in an effort to impress others but become poor and hungry in the process (8-9). Likewise if people ensure their security by working hard, they are wiser than those who waste time and money on things that are useless. Honest work, like honest speech, is considerate of others and brings satisfaction to those who practise it (10-14).

Those who have genuine wisdom will listen to advice and ignore insults (15-16). They will always speak the truth, but in such a way that their words heal, not injure (17-19). By speaking in this way they will bring pleasure to God and joy to themselves (20-22). Good people will keep silent rather than display their knowledge, but they will always have a fitting word of encouragement or guidance for those who need it (23-26). By contrast, the lazy will never get what they want, and may fall into the power of others (27-28).

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