My goal for our devotional study in Proverbs has been to challenge you with what I have described as a practical, no-nonsense, common sense approach to life. Sadly, the sense that was common, practical and spiritually minded a century ago has in the 21st century become all too rare. In our study today, Proverbs 11:9-15, Solomon returns to an unvarnished, apolitical outlook on life as he addresses the relationships a man has with the world around him. Proverbs 11:9 – “An hypocrite [profane, godless person; someone pretending to be a friend] with his mouth [speech] destroyeth [ruins; mars] his neighbor [companion; friend]: but through knowledge [discernment; knowledge of good and evil] shall the just [lawful; righteous] be delivered [strengthened; rescued].” Verse 9 is a contrast between a righteous [just] man and a hypocrite [profane, ungodly person]. Solomon warns his son–Make friends with an ungodly, deceptive individual and you do so at the risk of your life and reputation! How does a hypocrite destroy his acquaintance? With gossip, lies and slander. It is the nature of a hypocrite to lie and his words have maimed many good men with lies and distortions. A just man, a man who has godly discernment, will be conscious of the entrapments of the wicked. Proverbs 11:10-11 gives an education concerning the influence leaders have on a nation. Proverbs 11:10 – “When it goeth well [when things are good] with the righteous [just; godly], the city rejoiceth [jumps for joy]: and when the wicked [ungodly; guilty] perish [destroyed; flee], there is shouting [singing; gladness].” The leaders of a nation have a great influence on a people’s view of themselves, their present state and their outlook on the nation’s future. This is especially true in a nation that has a democratic election process as we do in the United States. Our leaders are reflective of our national character. Few men have the ability to inspire and even fewer have the skill to encourage the best in the citizens of a nation. The righteous aspire to the highest ideals for themselves, their leaders and their nation—spiritually, politically, morally and economically. When it goes well for the righteous, a city and nation enjoy God’s blessings. When justice reigns and the guilty are punished and discouraged in their wickedness, God’s people rejoice! Continuing with similar observations, Solomon notes the moral correlation in a people’s spirit and the moral character of their leaders. Proverbs 11:11 – “By the blessing [prosperity] of the upright [righteous; just] the city is exalted [lifted up]: but it is overthrown [destroyed; breakdown; pulled down; ruined] by the mouth [speech; word] of the wicked [ungodly; guilty].” When righteous, upright people serve in positions of influence, the effect is the moral character of the nation is exalted, lifted up. However, when the wicked reign, they invariably put on the people an oppressive yoke of taxes, laws and regulations that are a hardship and discouragement to the people. I will temper my temptation to draw a direct application to America’s current state by challenging you to look at our community, city, state and nation through the lens of Proverbs 11:9-11. Do you see Americans rejoicing or cast down? Do you sense a patriotic spirit of joy and prosperity in our nation? When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule the people are oppressed!
Copyright 2014 – Travis D. Smith