How do we come to a landing on a theme for Proverbs 10? It’s the first of the true, pithy Proverbs where very much is said in very few words. These proverbs (chapters 10-15) are primarily antithetical, meaning they’re contrastive. They pit what the moral person does or gets against what the immoral person does or gets.
The following themes are present:
1. Diligence versus Laziness
We know the following to be true implicitly: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” (Proverbs 10:4) When we do our work at the appropriate time and to the appropriate standard we generally reap a fair pay or reward. The lazy are also a pain to those who need to rely on them (Verse 26).
Laziness gets us relatively nowhere, and although some seem to get away with it for a time, watch and see what they really reap.
2. Prudence in Speech versus ‘Chattiness’
“Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense… The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” (Verses 13, 8) The wise person is generally very careful about what they commit to saying, particularly around promises.
Similarly, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (Verse 19) The more we argue the worse the dispute becomes. The morally correct person will contribute wisdom by settling the matter somehow, but the morally corrupt person will eventually have their mouth shut and will generally come to ruin if they habitually lack control over their words (verses 14 and 31).
3. Humility versus Pride
“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray… Fools find pleasure in wicked schemes, but those who have understanding delight in wisdom.” (Proverbs 10:17, 23)
Heeding correction in life is essential to the acquisition of wisdom, the direct role of humility. Those heeding discipline are themselves disciplined. Those seeking wisdom, delighting in same, seem at least partially blind to immorality–the Spirit’s protection.
There is a deep gulf between humility and pride–the humble rarely have issues with pride and vice versa (the prideful seem incapable of humility, until possibly they’re laid low).
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.
All quotes taken from the Today’s New International Version.
Steve Wickham is a registered safety practitioner (BSc, MSIA, RSP) and a qualified, unordained Christian minister (GradDipBib&Min).