Proverbs 16:24-28

In Proverbs 16:24-28 Solomon continues to teach us the importance of what we say. There is wonderful power in our words to bring blessing and pleasantness to others. In ancient Biblical culture, nothing was as sweet as honey from the honeycomb, and pleasant words can be just as sweet and wonderful. But we have to be careful to speak graciously. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Encouraging and pleasant words bring enjoyment to the whole person (the soul) and health to the body. We underestimate the power of our words.

Here is one of the greatest truths in scripture – we don’t really know what God’s plans are. It is not wise to make decisions based on our own gut feelings alone.  We need to leverage God’s truth, the counsel of many, and His Spirit to guide us in decisions. Some people walk a path of life that they know is wrong, and many proverbs speak to that person. Others walk a path of life that seems right to them, and they are mistaken. It isn’t enough to feel good about our path, or to follow our heart on life’s way. God’s revelation and word is always truer and safer than what seems right to a man. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” The problem is what happens when we are wrong. Taking the wrong way – even if it seems right to a man – isn’t an innocent mistake. This is because the wrong path ends in death. The end of the wrong path isn’t temporary trouble or inconvenience; its end is the way of death.

The Bible recognizes the principle of personal property and that the reward of work properly belongs to the one doing it.  But we also must keep in mind that our ownership of stuff is really stewardship.  It all belongs to God.  We’re given the opportunity to care for and use many things that result from our hard work, but we need to do so with an open hand. “A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.” There are many drivers that cause us to work, not the least of which is what scripture tells us is required.  But a hungry belly certainly can drive one to put his shoulder to the plow to fulfill that basic need.

The sense is that for the ungodly man, the evil he casually finds isn’t enough to satisfy his desire. So he digs up more evil, finding the effort to pursue evil fulfilling in his twisted ways. “A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.” When an ungodly man digs up evil, he can’t keep it to himself. He has to spread it to others, so he casts it from his lips as if it were a burning fire.”A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” This is one way that the perverse man sows strife – by whispering gossipy words. The strife they sow is so powerful it can separate best friends. Often, such people show they are evil because they count it a victory and an accomplishment to sow such strife and to separate even the best of friends.

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