Proverbs 16:20-24 – The character and characteristics of a wise man

Godly wisdomIn the scriptures the wise are people of faith who love the Lord, His Word and have disciplined their lives in harmony with God’s Law and the principles of His Word. Because their meditations are in God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-3), the wise are blessed with insight and spiritual discernment.  Two pleasant fruits are evidenced in the life of a wise man in Proverbs 16:20.

Proverbs 16:20 – “He that handleth [speak to; address] a matter [word] wisely [with prudence and understanding] shall find [come to] good [favor; pleasantness]: and whoso trusteth [secure; confident] in the LORD, happy [blessed] is he [the man who puts his trust in the Lord].”

A man who is wise and prudent in addressing matters of life is promised to “find good”.   Some scholars suggest the word “matter” could be translated “Word” [i.e. the Word of God] and thus read, “He that handleth [the Word] wisely shall find good”.   For the sake of our devotional, I will apply verse 20 as follows:  A man who addresses life’s challenges in a wise and prudent manner will enjoy the reward of God’s loving favor.

Too many Christians go to their graves bearing offenses and leaving in their wake broken relationships.  Because they are too proud to humble themselves and handle conflicts and offenses in a prudent manner, those poor souls never “find good” and carry the burden of turmoil and emotional baggage to their grave.

A second fruit born in the life of a man of godly wisdom is happiness and contentment.  Because his confidence is in the Lord, such a man handles matters in a prudent fashion.

Proverbs 16:21 – “The wise [discerning] in heart [mind; thought] shall be called prudent [discerning; wise]: and the sweetness [pleasant] of the lips increaseth [adds to] learning.”

The wise whose hearts and thoughts are saturated with godly of wisdom and controlled by the Spirit of God have a good reputation and those who value and heed their instructions are made wise.

Proverbs 16:22 – “Understanding [wisdom; prudence] is a wellspring [flowing fountain] of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction [warning; chastisement] of fools [silly; morally perverse; quarrelsome] is folly [foolish; silliness].”

Wisdom and instruction is to the soul of a wise man what fresh spring water is to a thirsty man.   While the wise thirst for wisdom, the nature of a fool is to reject wisdom and correction.  What can you teach a fool?  Nothing, for a fool has no interest in knowledge and no appetite for instruction and discipline.

Proverbs 16:23 – “The heart [mind; thoughts] of the wise [skilled in the use of wisdom] teacheth [guides] his mouth, and addeth [promotes; enriches; increases] learning [understanding] to his lips.”

Listen to a man’s conversation long enough and you will know the manner of man he is for “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart” (Matthew 15:18).  The words of the fool are a snare to his soul, but the heart of a wise man loves wisdom and out of his mouth proceeds knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 16:24 – “Pleasant [delightful; grace] words are as an honeycomb [dripping with honey], sweet to the soul [heart; mind], and health [medicine] to the bones.”

Proverbs 16:24 is a wonderful reminder of the power and influence of the spoken word.  There are many admonishings in Proverbs concerning the hurt and sorrow caused by words spoken with malice and in anger; however verse 24 reminds us words can be as sweet as honey and offer healing to a broken, wounded soul.   I close with a proverb that serves as a reminder of the power and influence of words.

Proverbs 15:23“A man hath joy [mirth; rejoicing] by the answer [reply] of his mouth: and a word [advise; caution] spoken in due season [timely fashion; proper time], how good is it [favorable; pleasing]!”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith