One can overdose on proverbs. So what’s the best way to read a chapter? Probably by taking one or two items to heart to ponder, those that jump out as specially meaningful in our context.
The Lord is mentioned explicitly in 4 out of the 56 lines of Proverbs 12. The majority 52 lines are based in observation and outcome, using the simple two-box contrast between those wanting to follow God’s way and those who are the hot-tempered, callous, cruel, deceitful, boastful and indolent.
- Do I observe human behaviour and learn from it? [including my own]
- Is this ancient two-liner stuff still relevant?
Well, consider that in South Africa as well as the so-called civilised UK, laws are needed on the books, and societies are formed against cruelty to animals—and that’s not just slaughtering our rhinos for their horns.
“The godly care for their animals
but the wicked are always cruel” (vs 10)
If care for animals is God’s way, how much more so care for children!
Take verse 22 and think of South African politics:
“The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in those who tell the truth.”
This is applicable in the home as well as in the public space—in our courts, in Parliamentary investigations and in judicial inquiries, whether that’s Eskom or Marikana or State capture or the deaths of mental patients. We need the truth.
A response is that we give thanks for and pray for those who speak out in South Africa and may receive death threats as a result. Thuli Madonsela was an inspiration.
A challenge is that we hold ourselves as equally accountable as we do the politicians—that is, that we be free of deceit, covering over our misconduct, and avoid misrepresentation in what we say about others. It starts at home and continues in our workplace.
- Is this an issue for church life?
You bet! “Do not lie to one another!” That’s the apostle Paul writing applied theology to the Ephesian believers (Eph 4:25). Check out that paragraph.
And the positive take on words in contrast to lying words?
The power of words to affirm and encourage.
“Worry weighs a person down:
an encouraging word cheers a person up.” (vs 25)
Affirmation, appreciation, encouragement – it’s in our power to bless.
- Who could I express this blessing towards today?