For the righteous, Proverbs 12:21 is rich with assurance, comfort and hope; however, for the wicked this same proverb states a foreboding promise.
Proverbs 12:21 – “There shall no evil [wickedness; mischief; trouble] happen [befall; meet] to the just [lawful; righteous]: but the wicked [ungodly; guilty of breaking the Law] shall be filled [overflow; be full] with mischief [evil; wickedness; trouble].”
Allow me to address the opening promise of this proverb because some might object to it immediately based on what they or a loved one has experienced. Let’s be transparent for a moment: The world often awards the wicked for their unrighteous deeds and sinners seem to prosper in spite of their sin; however, the righteous who are honest and upright are often the object of ridicule and scorn. Are we really to believe that “no evil” befalls the just?
My answer to that question is a question: What is your perspective? From an immediate, temporal perspective the righteous are often the focus of wicked men’s plots and living in a depraved, fallen world will bring sorrow and suffering. Man’s view of life is microscopic and we see our circumstances in the midst of pain and disappointment. God is Sovereign, however, and His perspective is Eternal and Infinite.
Solomon did not teach his son that the just will not experience pain or disappointment. He taught his son that, in the providence of God’s master plan for the righteous, the end of suffering and disappointment is “no evil” for the believer. In other words, “There shall no evil befall thee” (Psalm 91:10). Here is a promise for those in the midst of sorrow and disappointments:
Psalms 91:15 – “He [God’s child] shall call upon Me [the Lord], and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble [distress; times of trial]; I will deliver him [draw him out; take him through], and honour him.”
The just are not exempt from trouble; however, God is not only with us in the midst of trials, He is also working everything to its immediate end: His glory and our good (Romans 8:28-29).
Proverbs 12:22 reminds us that God puts a premium on truth.
Proverbs 12:22 – “Lying [false; deceitful] lips [language; speech] are abomination [loathsome; detestable; abhorrent] to the LORD: but they that deal [make; create; prepare; press; squeeze; fashion] truly [faithfully; verily] are his delight [favor; pleasure].”
Speaking the truth delights the Lord; however, lying, deceitful speech is loathsome to God. The apostle Paul challenged the Christians in ancient Ephesus, to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and put “away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25).
Finally, Proverbs 12:23 reminds us that a man’s speech is a window into his character.
Proverbs 12:23 – “A prudent [crafty; subtil; shrewd] man concealeth [covers; hides] knowledge [cunning; perception]: but the heart [mind; wisdom; understanding] of fools [silly; stupid; one who hates knowledge] proclaimeth [calls; proclaims] foolishness [silliness; folly; stupidity],”
Wise men and women are disciplined in speech and discreet in their communication. A fool raves, taunts and disregards the pain and sorrow his foolish lips cause his family and friends; however, the wise weigh every word.
Proverbs 25:11 – “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith