Proverbs 16:20-23

In Proverbs 16:20-23 Solomon reminds us that obedience is a secret to goodness and blessing.  How we live matters. Obedience to God – to heed His Word and live it wisely – will always bring goodness. This thought also suggests that there are unwise or foolish ways to heed the word, perhaps as the religious leaders in Jesus’ day did it, focused on the letter of the law rather than God’s intent. “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” The goodness the obedient will find also comes because they have a true and confident trust in God. They can happily and calmly rest in the good God who loves and cares for them.

Those who are wise in heart will demonstrate wisdom through their life. Others will see it and call them prudent or wise. This is another reminder that true wisdom is demonstrated by how we live; it isn’t only having good or true thoughts in one’s mind but rather the actions we take day by day and moment by moment. “The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” The phrase sweetness of speech doesn’t have to do with good tasting food or pleasant kisses. Like many proverbs, it refers to wise and well-spoken words, perhaps with a touch of eloquence. Such speaking increases learning, both in the speaker and those who hear him.

Common sense seems to be a lost thing for many today.  But Solomon points out just how important it truly can be. It guides us to walk where we should be going. It truly is a fountain that continues to provide good water that sustains life. “Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.” When we fail to seek and follow God’s wisdom, we are going to miss the mark. Wisdom brings life, but it is usually foolish to try to correct a fool. As soon as a fool decides to receive correction, they have started not being a fool and leaving their folly to seek wisdom.

Solomon again returns to talk about the importance of what we say. Our wisdom is shown by what we speak, and by the control we have over the words that come from our mouth. Godliness and wisdom are evident when they teach the mouth what to say and not say. “The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips.” When we speak with wisdom and are continually learning how to communicate more effectively, we are more persuasive to those we touch. Wisdom is shown by a heart and mind that are continually learning. When learning is added to the words one says, then a person truly has wisdom and is growing in it.

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