Proverbs 18

The Word Made Fresh

1Those who keep to themselves are selfish
because they show contempt for those whose judgement is sound.
2Fools don’t try to understand;
they only want to express their own opinion.
3Wickedness brings contempt;
along with dishonor and disgrace.
4Spoken words may be like deep waters,
but wisdom is a roaring stream.
5It is a mistake to show partiality to the guilty
or to refuse justice to the innocent.
6The lips of a fool bring only troubles,
and should be slapped for it.
7Fools are ruined by their mouths
because they trip over their own words.
8Whispered words are pleasant to the ear;
and sink into the hearer’s soul.
9A lazy worker is close to a thief.
10The name of the LORD is a tower of strength;
good people enter it to find safety.
11A strong city is the desire of the wealthy;
they imagine it protects them like a high wall.
12A haughty heart precedes destruction,
but a humble heart brings honor.
13It is shameful to answer before listening.
14A person’s strength can endure illness,
but who can stand a broken spirit?
15An intelligent mind gathers knowledge,
and the wise person’s ear seeks information.
16A door can be opened by a gift;
because it grants access to that which is important.
17The first presentation of the facts seems correct,
until the next witness cross-examines the first.
18The lot may be cast to put an end to an argument,
and can decide between powerful foes.
19The friend who is offended can become strongest of all,
like the bars of a castle.
20The words one speaks can be like a good meal;
they can bring satisfaction.
21The tongue holds the power of life and death,
and embracing it brings great satisfaction.
22The man who finds a good wife finds a good thing indeed,
and is in the LORD’s favor.
23Poor people beg;
rich people demand.
24Some friends only play at being friends;
but a true friend is closer than next-of-kin.


1: This is another hard verse to translate and, frankly, the NRSV is not a helpful rendition. The idea is that there is wisdom in community, and the one who avoids being part of the community, showing contempt for his neighbors and their ideas, is bereft of that wisdom.

2: In a similar vein, one who refuses to listen to anyone else’s opinion reveals himself to be a fool.

3: Is it that wickedness causes one to have contempt for others, or is it that others will have contempt for the one who is wicked?

4: What we say is evident; it’s the underlying motives that are like deep waters. True wisdom, though, is bound to gush forth.

5: Justice is necessary for the good health of any society.

6-7: Here’s another definition of a fool.

8: An interesting description of the process of being tantalized by gossip.

9: Laziness is roundly condemned a number of times (see 6:6 for example), but nowhere more roundly than here.

10-11: These two sayings about external threats to the city (or nation) make it clear that God is a more dependable protector than wealth.

12: Trouble is often the parent of humility.

13: Don’t interrupt.

14: Physical well-being is heavily dependent on mental (and spiritual) well-being.

15: Knowledge is neither intelligence nor wisdom, but is sought by those who are intelligent and by those who are wise.

16: Take note.

17: Don’t make a decision until all the evidence is in.

18: Flipping a coin is a better way to a solution than engaging in a duel.

19: The meaning here seems to be that it is often more difficult to patch up things with a friend you’ve insulted than it is to storm a city or a barred castle.

20-21: Studies have shown that learning to control the tongue adds years to one’s life expectancy.

22: Amen!

23: There is a difference in public power between the poor and the rich. No value judgment is given to this fact, but it is evidence of the corruption of human societies because God favors the poor.

24: Some “friends” are not really friends.


Practical observations of life.