Proverbs 11 does not follow a theme or narrative like many other chapters in this wonderful book of wisdom. The verses in this chapter consist of 31 “rapid fire” parables that are in essence Solomon’s observations on the contrast between sinful vices and moral virtues. We continue our study of this chapter focusing on Proverbs 11:12.
Proverbs 11:12 – “He that is void [lacking] of wisdom [lit. heart; feelings; understanding] despiseth [belittles; looks down on] his neighbor [companion; friend]: but a man of understanding [discretion; wise discernment] holdeth his peace [keeps silent; i.e. “bites his tongue”]
Verse 12 takes my thoughts back to my childhood in the country when “party lines” were a way of life. Many reading today’s devotional are not old enough to remember the expression “party line”. I am not referring to political party lines [Republican vs. Democrat], but to “phone party lines”.
I remember the frustration of picking up the phone to call a friend only to hear a neighbor absorbed in conversation. Admittedly, the temptation was too great for this child to not pick up a tidbit of gossip from the “party line” and share my newfound insight with others [not exactly the most neighborly thing to do]!
Solomon reminds us in verse 12 that a desensitized, insensitive heart neither weighs or cares the damage or sorrow his wagging tongue may bring to his “neighbor” [i.e. friend or companion]. In contrast, a wise man holds his tongue; he exercises discretion in both the manner of his words and timing of his response.
I close with a proverb that expresses the conversation God commends:
Proverbs 25:11 – “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”