PROVERBS 12-16 | Treasures from God’s Word: week starting October 17-23

BIBLICAL TEXTS AND REFERENCES: TREASURES FROM GOD’S WORD | PROVERBS 12-16

“WISDOM IS BETTER THAN GOLD”: (10 MIN.)

Why is godly wisdom so valuable? It delivers its owners from bad ways and preserves them alive. It has a positive effect on their disposition, speech, and actions.
Wisdom protects from pride
16:18, 19
• A wise person recognizes that Jehovah is the Source of all wisdom
• Those who achieve success or who receive more responsibility must especially guard against pride and haughtiness
Wisdom promotes wholesome speech
16:21-24
• A wise person uses insight to find the good in others and speaks well of them
• Wise words are persuasive and sweet like honey, not harsh or confrontational
DID YOU KNOW?
Honey is easily assimilated by the body and quickly converted into energy. It is valued for its sweetness and curative properties.
Pleasant sayings are spiritually refreshing, just as honey is good for the body.

Pr 16:16, 17—A wise person studies and applies God’s Word (w07 7/15 8)

New World Translation Proverbs 16:16, 17
16 How much better to acquire wisdom than gold!
To gain understanding is to be chosen over silver.
17 The highway of the upright avoids what is bad.
Whoever safeguards his way preserves his life.
The Watchtower (2007) “Wisdom Is for a Protection”
“Wisdom Is for a Protection”
“THE getting of wisdom is O how much better than gold! And the getting of understanding is to be chosen more than silver,” states Proverbs 16:16. Why is wisdom so valuable? Because “wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) How, though, does wisdom preserve alive its owners?
Acquiring godly wisdom, that is, gaining accurate knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible, and acting in harmony with it, helps us to walk in the way Jehovah approves. (Proverbs 2:10-12) King Solomon of ancient Israel says: “The highway of the upright ones is to turn away from bad. One who is safeguarding his way is keeping his soul.” (Proverbs 16:17) Yes, wisdom delivers its owners from bad ways and preserves them alive! The concise, wise sayings at Proverbs 16:16-33 show the positive effect that godly wisdom can have on our disposition, speech, and actions.
“Be Lowly in Spirit”
Wisdom personified is portrayed as saying: “Self-exaltation and pride . . . I have hated.” (Proverbs 8:13) Pride and wisdom are poles apart. We need to act with wisdom and be careful not to develop a haughty, or arrogant, disposition. Especially should we be on guard if we have enjoyed success in some areas of life or are entrusted with a position of responsibility in the Christian congregation.
“Pride is before a crash,” warns Proverbs 16:18, “and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Consider the greatest crash in the universe—the fall of a perfect spirit son of God who made himself Satan the Devil. (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9) Did he not manifest a haughty spirit prior to his crash? The Bible points to this when it says that a newly converted man should not be appointed to an office of oversight in the Christian congregation

Pr 16:18, 19—A wise person rejects pride and haughtiness (w07 7/15 8-9)

New World Translation Proverbs 16:18, 19
18 Pride is before a crash,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
19 Better to be humble among the meek
Than to share the spoil of the haughty.
The Watchtower (2007) “Wisdom Is for a Protection”
“Wisdom Is for a Protection”
“THE getting of wisdom is O how much better than gold! And the getting of understanding is to be chosen more than silver,” states Proverbs 16:16. Why is wisdom so valuable? Because “wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) How, though, does wisdom preserve alive its owners?
Acquiring godly wisdom, that is, gaining accurate knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible, and acting in harmony with it, helps us to walk in the way Jehovah approves. (Proverbs 2:10-12) King Solomon of ancient Israel says: “The highway of the upright ones is to turn away from bad. One who is safeguarding his way is keeping his soul.” (Proverbs 16:17) Yes, wisdom delivers its owners from bad ways and preserves them alive! The concise, wise sayings at Proverbs 16:16-33 show the positive effect that godly wisdom can have on our disposition, speech, and actions.
“Be Lowly in Spirit”
Wisdom personified is portrayed as saying: “Self-exaltation and pride . . . I have hated.” (Proverbs 8:13) Pride and wisdom are poles apart. We need to act with wisdom and be careful not to develop a haughty, or arrogant, disposition. Especially should we be on guard if we have enjoyed success in some areas of life or are entrusted with a position of responsibility in the Christian congregation.
“Pride is before a crash,” warns Proverbs 16:18, “and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Consider the greatest crash in the universe—the fall of a perfect spirit son of God who made himself Satan the Devil. (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9) Did he not manifest a haughty spirit prior to his crash? The Bible points to this when it says that a newly converted man should not be appointed to an office of oversight in the Christian congregation “for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1, 2, 6) How important it is to guard against feeding the pride of others as well as allowing it to develop in us!
“Better is it to be lowly in spirit with the meek ones than to divide spoil with the self-exalted ones,” states Proverbs 16:19. That this is good admonition is shown in the case of King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon. He proudly set up an immense image—perhaps representing himself—on the plain of Dura. The statue may have been mounted on a very high pedestal so that it reached a height of 90 feet [27 m]. (Daniel 3:1) This towering monument was meant to be an impressive symbol of Nebuchadnezzar’s empire. While high and lofty things—such as that statue as well as obelisks, steeples, and skyscrapers—may impress humans, this is not the case with God. The psalmist sang: “Jehovah is high, and yet the humble one he sees; but the lofty one he knows only from a distance.” (Psalm 138:6) In fact, “what is lofty among men is a disgusting thing in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15) Better it is for us to “be led along with the lowly things” than for us to “be minding lofty things.”—Romans 12:16.
Speak With “Insight” and “Persuasiveness”
How does acquiring wisdom affect our speech? The wise king tells us: “He that is showing insight in a matter will find good, and happy is he that is trusting in Jehovah. The one that is wise in heart will be called understanding, and he that is sweet in his lips adds persuasiveness. To its owners insight is a well of life; and the discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness. The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.”—Proverbs 16:20-23.
Wisdom helps us speak with insight and persuasiveness. Why? Because a person who is wise at heart tries to “find good” in a matter and ‘trusts in Jehovah.’ When we endeavor to find good in others, we are more likely to speak well of them. Rather than being harsh or confrontational, our words are sweet and persuasive. Insight into the circumstances of others helps us to understand the extent of hardship they may be experiencing and how they are coping with it.
Speech influenced by wisdom is also vital when it comes to our Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. When we teach God’s Word to others, our objective is not merely to convey Scriptural information. Our goal is to reach the heart of individuals. This calls for adding persuasiveness to our lips. The apostle Paul urged his associate Timothy to continue in the things he had been “persuaded to believe.”—2 Timothy 3:14, 15.

Pr 16:20-24—A wise person uses his speech to help others (w07 7/15 9-10)

New World Translation Proverbs 16:20-24
20 The one who shows insight in a matter will find success,
And happy is the one trusting in Jehovah.
21 The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And the one kind in speech adds persuasiveness.
22 Insight is a fountain of life to those possessing it,
But fools are disciplined by their own foolishness.
23 The heart of the wise one gives his mouth insight
And adds persuasiveness to his speech.
24 Pleasant sayings are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones.
The Watchtower (2007) “Wisdom Is for a Protection”
“for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1, 2, 6) How important it is to guard against feeding the pride of others as well as allowing it to develop in us!
“Better is it to be lowly in spirit with the meek ones than to divide spoil with the self-exalted ones,” states Proverbs 16:19. That this is good admonition is shown in the case of King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon. He proudly set up an immense image—perhaps representing himself—on the plain of Dura. The statue may have been mounted on a very high pedestal so that it reached a height of 90 feet [27 m]. (Daniel 3:1) This towering monument was meant to be an impressive symbol of Nebuchadnezzar’s empire. While high and lofty things—such as that statue as well as obelisks, steeples, and skyscrapers—may impress humans, this is not the case with God. The psalmist sang: “Jehovah is high, and yet the humble one he sees; but the lofty one he knows only from a distance.” (Psalm 138:6) In fact, “what is lofty among men is a disgusting thing in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15) Better it is for us to “be led along with the lowly things” than for us to “be minding lofty things.”—Romans 12:16.
Speak With “Insight” and “Persuasiveness”
How does acquiring wisdom affect our speech? The wise king tells us: “He that is showing insight in a matter will find good, and happy is he that is trusting in Jehovah. The one that is wise in heart will be called understanding, and he that is sweet in his lips adds persuasiveness. To its owners insight is a well of life; and the discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness. The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.”—Proverbs 16:20-23.
Wisdom helps us speak with insight and persuasiveness. Why? Because a person who is wise at heart tries to “find good” in a matter and ‘trusts in Jehovah.’ When we endeavor to find good in others, we are more likely to speak well of them. Rather than being harsh or confrontational, our words are sweet and persuasive. Insight into the circumstances of others helps us to understand the extent of hardship they may be experiencing and how they are coping with it.
Speech influenced by wisdom is also vital when it comes to our Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. When we teach God’s Word to others, our objective is not merely to convey Scriptural information. Our goal is to reach the heart of individuals. This calls for adding persuasiveness to our lips. The apostle Paul urged his associate Timothy to continue in the things he had been “persuaded to believe.”—2 Timothy 3:14, 15.
The Greek word for “persuade” has the meaning of “bringing about a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral considerations,” says An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine. Coming up with convincing arguments that lead to a change of mind in our listener calls for insight into his or her thinking, interests, circumstances, and background. How can we gain such insight? The disciple James answers: “Be swift about hearing, slow about speaking.” (James 1:19) By drawing the listener out and carefully paying attention to what he says, we can get to know what he is at heart.
The apostle Paul was outstanding in his ability to persuade others. (Acts 18:4) Even one of his opposers, Demetrius, a silversmith, acknowledged: “Not only in Ephesus but in nearly all the district of Asia this Paul has persuaded a considerable crowd and turned them to another opinion.” (Acts 19:26) Did Paul take personal credit for his effectiveness in the preaching work? Not at all. He considered his preaching to be “a demonstration of [God’s] spirit and power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4, 5) We too have the help of Jehovah’s holy spirit. Because we trust in Jehovah, we are confident of his help as we endeavor to speak with insight and persuasiveness in our ministry.
No wonder that “the one that is wise in heart” is called “intelligent” or “discerning”! (Proverbs 16:21, An American Translation; New International Version) Yes, insight is “a well of life” to those who have it. But what about the foolish? They ‘despise wisdom and discipline.’ (Proverbs 1:7) What results do they reap by rejecting discipline from Jehovah? As noted above, Solomon says: “The discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness.” (Proverbs 16:22) They receive further discipline, often in the form of severe chastisement. The foolish may also bring upon themselves hardship, shame, disease, and even untimely death.
Pointing further to the wholesome effect that wisdom has on our speech, the king of Israel says: “Pleasant sayings are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24) As honey is sweet and provides quick refreshment to a hungry person, pleasant sayings are encouraging and refreshing. Honey also has health-giving and curative properties and is good for a person. So are pleasant sayings; they are healthful spiritually.—Proverbs 24:13, 14.
Beware of ‘a Way That Seems Upright’
“There exists a way that is upright before a man,” says Solomon, “but the ways of death are the end of it afterward.” (Proverbs 16:25) This is a warning against false reasoning and the pursuit of a course opposed to divine law. A certain path may seem right from a fleshly standpoint but may really be against the righteous principles of God’s Word. Moreover, Satan may promote such deception

DIGGING FOR SPIRITUAL GEMS: (8 MIN.)

Pr 15:15—How can we find greater joy in life? (g 11/13 16)

New World Translation Proverbs 15:15
15 All the days of the afflicted one are bad,
But the one with a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Awake!—2013 Do You Have “a Feast Constantly”?
Do You Have “a Feast Constantly”?
“All the days of the afflicted one are bad; but the one that is good at heart has a feast constantly.”—Proverbs 15:15.
WHAT do those words mean? They refer to one’s mental and emotional state. “The afflicted one” dwells on the negative—an outlook that makes his days “bad,” or dismal. By contrast, the one who “is good at heart” tries to focus on the positive—an attitude that fosters inner joy, giving him “a feast constantly.”
We all have problems that can rob us of a measure of happiness. Yet, we may be able to do certain things that help us to retain our joy through difficult times. Consider what the Bible says.
o Do not let anxieties over tomorrow weigh you down today. Jesus Christ said: “Do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.”—Matthew 6:34, Good News Translation.
o Try to focus on the good things that have happened to you. In fact, when you feel down, why not make a list of those good things and reflect on them? Also, do not dwell on past mistakes or bad deeds. Learn from them, and move on. Be like a driver who glances into his rearview mirror but does not focus on it. Keep in mind, too, that “there is the true forgiveness with [God].”—Psalm 130:4.
o When anxieties weigh you down, confide in someone who may be able to cheer you up. “Anxious care” causes our heart “to bow down, but the good word is what makes it rejoice,” says Proverbs 12:25. That “good word” may come from a family member or a trusted friend—someone who is not cynical or pessimistic but “is loving all the time.”—Proverbs 17:17.
The wise sayings found in the Bible have helped many to find more joy in life, even through trying times. May those precious sayings help you too.

Pr 16:4—In what sense has Jehovah made the wicked “work for his purpose”? (w07 5/15 18-19)

New World Translation Proverbs 16:4
4 Jehovah has made everything work for his purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of disaster.
The Watchtower (2007) “Your Plans Will Be Firmly Established”
Self-love may cause us to justify our errors, camouflage bad personality traits, and be blind to our own badness. Jehovah, though, cannot be deceived. He is making an estimate of spirits. A person’s spirit is his or her dominant mental inclination and is connected to the heart. To a large extent, its development depends on the activity of the figurative heart, which involves such things as our thoughts, emotions, and motives. The spirit is what “the examiner of hearts” estimates, and his judgments are free from favoritism or partiality. We are wise to guard our spirit.
“Roll Your Works Upon Jehovah”
Making plans involves the thought process—an activity of our heart. Deeds usually follow plans. Will we succeed in our endeavors? Solomon says: “Roll your works upon Jehovah himself and your plans will be firmly established.” (Proverbs 16:3) To roll our works on Jehovah means to place our trust in him, to rely on him, to be committed to him—to roll the burden off our shoulders, as it were, onto his. The psalmist sang: “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act.”—Psalm 37:5.
For our plans to be firmly established, however, they must be in harmony with God’s Word, and they must stem from good motives. Moreover, we should pray to Jehovah for help and support and conscientiously do our best to follow the Bible’s advice. It is particularly important to ‘throw our burden upon Jehovah’ when we are faced with trials or difficulties, for ‘he will sustain us.’ Indeed, “never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Psalm 55:22.
“Everything Jehovah Has Made for His Purpose”
What else will result from our rolling our works upon Jehovah? “Everything Jehovah has made for his purpose,” says the wise king. (Proverbs 16:4a) The Creator of the universe is a God of purpose. When we roll our works upon him, our life becomes filled with purposeful and meaningful activity, void of futility or vanity. And Jehovah’s purpose for the earth and man upon it is eternal. (Ephesians 3:11) He formed the earth and created it “to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) Moreover, what he originally purposed for mankind on earth is bound to become a reality. (Genesis 1:28) A life devoted to the true God will be unending and have meaning forever.
Jehovah has made “even the wicked one for the evil day.” (Proverbs 16:4b) He did not create the wicked, for “perfect is his activity.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) However, he has allowed them to come into existence and continue living until he sees fit to execute his adverse judgment. For example, Jehovah said to Pharaoh of Egypt: “For this cause I have kept you in existence, for the sake of showing you my power and in order to have my name declared in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16) The Ten Plagues and the destruction of Pharaoh and his forces in the Red Sea were indeed memorable demonstrations of God’s matchless power.
Jehovah can also make circumstances work out in such a way that the wicked unknowingly serve his purpose. The psalmist said: “The very rage of man will laud you; the remainder of raging you [Jehovah] will gird upon yourself.” (Psalm 76:10) Jehovah may allow his enemies to express their rage toward his servants—but only to the extent necessary to discipline his people and thus train them. What is in excess of this, God takes upon himself.
While Jehovah supports his humble servants, what about the proud and arrogant? “Everyone that is proud in heart is something detestable to Jehovah,” says the king of Israel. “Hand may join to hand, yet one will not be free from punishment.” (Proverbs 16:5) Those “proud in heart” may band together in mutual support, but they will not escape punishment. We are wise, then, to cultivate the spirit of humility regardless of how knowledgeable we are or how capable we may be or whatever service privileges we may have.
“In the Fear of Jehovah”
Born in sin, we are prone to err. (Romans 3:23; 5:12) What will help us to avoid making plans that will lead to a bad course? Proverbs 16:6 states: “By loving-kindness and trueness error is atoned for, and in the fear of Jehovah one turns away from bad.” While by his loving-kindness and trueness Jehovah atones for our sins, it is the fear of Jehovah that serves as a deterrent to committing sins. How vital it is that along with love for God and appreciation for his loving-kindness, we cultivate fear of displeasing him!
The fear of God enters into our heart when we develop reverence and respect for God’s awesome power. Just think of his power reflected in the creation! Being reminded of the manifestation of power in God’s creative works helped the patriarch Job to readjust his thinking. (Job 42:1-6) Are we not likewise affected when we read and reflect on the accounts of Jehovah’s dealings with his people as recorded in the Bible? The psalmist sang: “Come, you people, and see the activities of God. His dealing with the sons of men is fear-inspiring.” (Psalm 66:5) Jehovah’s loving-kindness is not to be taken for granted. When the Israelites ‘rebelled and made God’s holy spirit feel hurt, Jehovah was changed into an enemy of theirs; he himself warred against them.’ (Isaiah 63:10) On the other hand, “when Jehovah takes pleasure in the ways of a man he causes even his enemies themselves to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7) What a protection the fear of Jehovah is!
“Better is a little with righteousness than an abundance of products without justice,” says the wise king. (Proverbs 16:8) Proverbs 15:16 states: “Better is a little in the fear of Jehovah than an abundant supply and confusion along with it.” A reverential awe of God is certainly essential for staying on a righteous course.
“The Heart of Earthling Man May Think Out His Way”
Man was created a free moral agent, able to choose between right and wrong. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) Our figurative heart has the ability to consider different options and fix its aim on one or more of them. Indicating that making choices is our responsibility, Solomon says: “The heart of earthling man may think out his way.” Once this is done, “Jehovah himself does the directing of his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) Since Jehovah can

What does this week’s Bible reading teach me about Jehovah?

What points from this week’s Bible reading can I use in the field ministry?

PROVERBS 12-16 | SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR PERSONAL COMMENTS

PROVERBS 12:1)
“The one who loves discipline loves knowledge, But the one who hates reproof is unreasoning.”
it-1 p. 607 Declare Righteous
However, where the backing of God’s Word is evident, a person being reproved by a Christian brother, especially by an elder in the congregation, would not properly turn aside such reproof by trying to prove himself righteous. (Pr 12:1; Heb 12:11; 13:17)
it-2 p. 781 Reproof
The sinful human tendency is to resent reproof and the human servant through whom it may be given. But yielding to this tendency degrades one to the level of an unreasoning beast lacking moral discrimination; as the inspired proverb expresses it: “A hater of reproof is unreasoning.” (Pr 12:1)
w03 1/15 pp. 28-29 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
Discipline Vital
“A lover of discipline is a lover of knowledge,” states Solomon, “but a hater of reproof is unreasoning.” (Proverbs 12:1) Eager to make personal improvement, a good man craves discipline. He is quick to apply the counsel he receives at Christian meetings or in personal conversations. The words in the Scriptures and in Bible-based publications are like oxgoads that prod him to follow an upright course. He seeks out knowledge and uses it to make his paths straight. Yes, a lover of discipline is also a lover of knowledge.
How necessary discipline is to true worshipers—particularly self-discipline! We can wish that we had a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. We may desire to be more effective in the Christian ministry and to be better teachers of God’s Word. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) But it takes self-discipline to make such wishes a reality. Self-discipline is also needed in other areas of life. For example, material designed to arouse illicit desires is plentiful today. Does it not call for self-discipline to restrain the eye from focusing on improper sights? Moreover, since “the inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up,” an immoral thought can indeed originate in the recesses of the mind. (Genesis 8:21) Self-discipline is needed in order not to dwell upon such a thought.
The hater of reproof, on the other hand, loves neither discipline nor knowledge. Yielding to the sinful human tendency to resent reproof, he degrades himself to the level of an unreasoning animal—a brute—lacking moral discrimination. We must firmly resist this inclination.
PROVERBS 12:2)
“The good person obtains Jehovah’s approval, But He condemns the man of wicked schemes.”
w03 1/15 p. 28 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
Whom does God favor? King Solomon of ancient Israel answers: “One that is good gets approval from Jehovah, but the man of wicked ideas he pronounces wicked.”—Proverbs 12:2.
Clearly, Jehovah is pleased with one who is good—a virtuous person. The virtues of a good man include such qualities as self-discipline, fairness, humility, compassion, and prudence. His thoughts are righteous, his words encouraging, his deeds just and beneficial.
PROVERBS 12:3)
“No man is made secure by wickedness, But the righteous will never be uprooted.”
w03 1/15 p. 29 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
“Roots That Cannot Be Dislodged”
A good man cannot, of course, be unrighteous or unjust. So righteousness is also necessary for gaining Jehovah’s approval. King David sang: “You yourself will bless anyone righteous, O Jehovah; as with a large shield, with approval you will surround them.” (Psalm 5:12) Contrasting the condition of the righteous with that of the wicked, Solomon says: “No man will be firmly established by wickedness; but as for the root-foundation of the righteous ones, it will not be caused to stagger.”—Proverbs 12:3.
The wicked may seem to prosper. Consider the experience of the psalmist Asaph. “As for me,” he says, “my feet had almost turned aside, my steps had nearly been made to slip.” Why? Asaph answers: “I became envious of the boasters, when I would see the very peace of wicked people.” (Psalm 73:2, 3) But as he proceeded to come into the temple sanctuary of God, he came to realize that on slippery ground is where Jehovah had placed them. (Psalm 73:17, 18) Any success that the wicked may seem to achieve is temporary. Why should we be envious of them?
In contrast, the one who has Jehovah’s approval is stable. Using the metaphor of a strong root system of a tree, Solomon says: “Good men have roots that cannot be dislodged.” (Proverbs 12:3, The New English Bible) The unseen roots of a giant tree, such as the sequoia of California, may cover an area of several acres and can provide solid anchorage in the face of flood and high winds. A towering sequoia can even withstand a powerful earthquake.
Like such roots in earth’s nourishing soil, our minds and hearts need to delve expansively into God’s Word and draw from its life-giving waters. Our faith thus becomes firmly rooted and strong, our hope sure and firm. (Hebrews 6:19) We will not be “carried hither and thither by every wind of [false] teaching.” (Ephesians 4:14) Of course, we will feel the effects of stormy trials and may even tremble in the face of adversity. But our ‘root-foundation will not be caused to stagger.’
w94 9/15 p. 32 “Roots That Cannot Be Dislodged”
“Roots That Cannot Be Dislodged”
AMONG the world’s largest and oldest living things are the sequoia trees of California. These towering marvels stand some 300 feet [90 m] high at maturity and can live upwards of 3,000 years.
Though the sight of a sequoia is awe-inspiring, its unseen root system is equally impressive. The sequoia has a flat mat of roots that may cover an area as large as three or four acres. This huge root system provides solid anchorage in the face of floods or high winds. It is even possible for a sequoia to withstand a powerful earthquake!
King Solomon chose the strong root system of a tree as a metaphor in one of his proverbs. “No man can establish himself by wickedness,” he said, “but good men have roots that cannot be dislodged.” (Proverbs 12:3, The New English Bible) Yes, the wicked are on shaky ground. Any success they seem to achieve is merely temporary, for Jehovah promises that “the very hope of the wicked ones will perish.”—Proverbs 10:28.
This is a warning for those who profess to be Christians, for Jesus said that some would have “no root” in themselves and would stumble. (Matthew 13:21) Furthermore, the apostle Paul wrote about persons who would be “carried hither and thither by every wind of [false] teaching.” (Ephesians 4:14) How can this be prevented?
Just as the roots of a sequoia spread expansively in the earth’s nourishing soil, so our minds and hearts need to delve expansively into God’s Word and draw from its life-giving waters. This will help us to develop a firmly rooted faith. Of course, we will feel the effects of stormy trials. We may even tremble, like a tree, in the presence of adversity. But if our faith is well grounded, we will prove to have “roots that cannot be dislodged.”—Compare Hebrews 6:19.
PROVERBS 12:4)
“A capable wife is a crown to her husband, But the wife who acts shamefully is like rottenness in his bones.”
it-1 p. 553 Crown
A capable wife is considered to be “a crown to her owner,” because her good conduct brings honor to her husband, raising him in the estimation of others. (Pr 12:4)
it-2 p. 1196 Woman
She should always speak well of her husband and increase the respect of others for him, and he should be able to take pride in her. “A capable wife is a crown to her owner, but as rottenness in his bones is she that acts shamefully.” (Pr 12:4)
w03 1/15 pp. 29-30 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
“A Capable Wife Is a Crown to Her Owner”
Many people know the saying, “Behind every successful man there is a good woman.” Pointing to the importance of a supportive woman, Solomon says: “A capable wife is a crown to her owner, but as rottenness in his bones is she that acts shamefully.” (Proverbs 12:4) The word “capable” sums up many elements of goodness. The virtues of a good wife, as described in detail in Proverbs chapter 31, include industriousness, faithfulness, and wisdom. A woman having these attributes is a crown to her husband because her good conduct brings honor to him and raises him in the estimation of others. Never does she ambitiously push ahead or compete with him for recognition. Rather, she is a complementary helper to her husband.
How might a woman act shamefully, and with what results? This shameful conduct may range from contentiousness to adultery. (Proverbs 7:10-23; 19:13) Such actions on the part of a wife succeed only in tearing down her husband. She is like “rottenness in his bones” in the sense that “she brings him to ruin, like a disease which weakens the bodily frame,” says one reference work. “A modern equivalent expression might be ‘a cancer’—some disease which progressively saps a person’s vitality,” states another. May Christian wives endeavor to win God’s approval by reflecting the virtues of a capable wife.
PROVERBS 12:5)
“The thoughts of the righteous are just, But the guidance of the wicked is deceptive.”
w03 1/15 p. 30 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
From Thoughts to Actions to Consequences
Thoughts lead to actions, and deeds to consequences. Solomon next presents a progression from thoughts to actions, comparing the righteous ones with the wicked. He states: “The thoughts of the righteous ones are judgment; the steering by the wicked ones is deception. The words of the wicked ones are a lying in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright ones is what will deliver them.”—Proverbs 12:5, 6.
The very thoughts of good people are morally sound and directed toward what is fair and just. Since righteous ones are motivated by love for God and for fellow humans, their intentions are good. The wicked, on the other hand, are motivated by selfishness. Consequently, their designs—their methods of reaching their objectives—are deceitful. Their actions are treacherous. They do not hesitate to lay a trap for the innocent, perhaps in a court of law, by false accusations. Their words are “a lying in wait for blood” because they want to harm their innocent victims. The upright ones, having knowledge of the wicked plots and the wisdom needed to be cautious, are able to avoid this danger. They may even be able to warn the unwary and deliver them from the deceitful schemes of the wicked.
PROVERBS 12:6)
“The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush, But the mouth of the upright saves them.”
w03 1/15 p. 30 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
From Thoughts to Actions to Consequences
Thoughts lead to actions, and deeds to consequences. Solomon next presents a progression from thoughts to actions, comparing the righteous ones with the wicked. He states: “The thoughts of the righteous ones are judgment; the steering by the wicked ones is deception. The words of the wicked ones are a lying in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright ones is what will deliver them.”—Proverbs 12:5, 6.
The very thoughts of good people are morally sound and directed toward what is fair and just. Since righteous ones are motivated by love for God and for fellow humans, their intentions are good. The wicked, on the other hand, are motivated by selfishness. Consequently, their designs—their methods of reaching their objectives—are deceitful. Their actions are treacherous. They do not hesitate to lay a trap for the innocent, perhaps in a court of law, by false accusations. Their words are “a lying in wait for blood” because they want to harm their innocent victims. The upright ones, having knowledge of the wicked plots and the wisdom needed to be cautious, are able to avoid this danger. They may even be able to warn the unwary and deliver them from the deceitful schemes of the wicked.
PROVERBS 12:7)
“When the wicked are overthrown, they are no more, But the house of the righteous will keep standing.”
w03 1/15 p. 30 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
How will the righteous and the wicked fare? “There is an overthrowing of the wicked ones and they are no more,” answers Solomon, “but the very house of the righteous ones will keep standing.” (Proverbs 12:7) The house, says one reference work, “stands for the household and everything precious to the individual, making it possible for him to truly live.” It can even refer to the family and the descendants of the righteous. In any case, the point of the proverb is clear: The righteous will stand firm under adversity.
PROVERBS 12:8)
“A man is praised for the discretion of his mouth, But one with a twisted heart will be treated with contempt.”
w03 1/15 p. 30 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
Emphasizing the value of discernment, the king of Israel states: “For his mouth of discretion a man will be praised, but one who is twisted at heart will come to be for contempt.” (Proverbs 12:8) A discerning person does not allow words to flow out of his mouth hastily. He thinks before speaking and enjoys peaceful relations with others because a “mouth of discretion” leads him to choose his words carefully. When faced with foolish or speculative questioning, a man of discernment is able to ‘hold back his sayings.’ (Proverbs 17:27) Such a man is praised and is pleasing to Jehovah. How different he is from the one with twisted opinions emanating from a ‘twisted heart’!
be study 33 p. 198 par. 4 Tactful yet Firm
Proverbs 12:8 commends a “mouth of discretion.” The Hebrew expression used here is associated with such concepts as insight and prudence. Thus, discretion involves cautious reserve in speech as a result of thinking a matter through so as to act wisely.
PROVERBS 12:9)
“Better to be lightly esteemed and have a servant Than to glorify oneself and have no food.”
w03 1/15 p. 30 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
Yes, a man of discretion is praised, but the next proverb teaches us the value of humility. It says: “Better is the one lightly esteemed but having a servant than the one glorifying himself but in want of bread.” (Proverbs 12:9) Solomon seems to be saying that it is better to be a humble one of little means, having merely one servant, than to spend what is needed for life’s necessities in an effort to maintain a high social status. What sound advice this is for us—to live within our means!
PROVERBS 12:10)
“The righteous one takes care of his domestic animals, But even the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”
it-2 p. 378 Mercy
Merciful Treatment of Animals. Proverbs 12:10 says: “The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal, but the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel.” Whereas the righteous person knows the needs of his animals and has a feeling for their welfare, the wicked person’s mercies are not stirred up by these needs. According to the selfish, unfeeling principles of the world, the treatment of one’s animals is based only on what benefit one might gain from them. What the wicked person would consider adequate care might actually be cruel treatment. (Contrast Ge 33:12-14.) The righteous person’s concern for his animals finds precedent in God’s own care for them as part of his creation.—Compare Ex 20:10; De 25:4; 22:4, 6, 7; 11:15; Ps 104:14, 27; Jon 4:11.
w03 1/15 pp. 30-31 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
Agricultural Life Provides Lessons in Goodness
Drawing upon the agricultural way of life, Solomon teaches two lessons in goodness. “The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal,” he says, “but the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10) The righteous man treats his animals with kindness. He knows their needs and has concern for their welfare. A wicked person may say that he is concerned about animals, but he is not stirred by their needs. His motives are selfish, and his treatment of animals is based on the profit that he might make from them. What such a person considers adequate care for animals might actually be cruel treatment.
The principle of kind treatment of animals applies to the care of pets as well. How cruel it would be to take in animals as pets and then cause them needless suffering by neglecting or mistreating them! In the case of an animal that is suffering greatly from serious disease or injury, kindness may call for ending its life.
g98 11/8 p. 27 Cruelty to Animals—Is It Wrong?
Proverbs 12:10 explicitly states God’s viewpoint: “The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal, but the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel.” A Bible commentary renders this verse as follows: “A righteous man’s kindness extends even to dumb animals, but a wicked man is cruel, even when he thinks he is being most gentle.”—Believer’s Bible Commentary, by William MacDonald.
The righteous man treats animals with kindness and seeks to know their needs. A wicked person may vocally express love for animals, but his “mercies,” at best, are actually cruel. His actions betray the selfish motive he has in mind. How true this is of those who pit one animal against another in hopes of winning money!
g88 3/22 p. 27 Why Some Are Mean and Others Mild
One dogfighting zealot said concerning his pit bulls that “fighting was the very breath of life to them.” He implied that to allow them to fight was not cruel but merciful. They die happy, fulfilled, doing what they are bred and trained to do, he claimed. In keeping with this strange sentiment, another sadistic devotee of illegal dogfighting made this sick comment: “My dogs die with their tails up and wagging.”
They also die with bones broken, ears shredded, flesh torn, and blood gushing. Fights last from one to three hours. They will fight to the death. Randall Lockwood adds this ironic touch: “It’s not unheard of now for dogs to come out of the pit and attack spectators. Some of our investigators have seen it.” San Diego sheriff Blackwood says: “We’ve seen them, with both front legs broken, push themselves across the ring to fight.” Do these dogs also die with their tails up and wagging?
The courage and strength of pit bulls are phenomenal. How disgusting, how sad, that such courage and strength are put to such a cruel and sadistic use—dogs made mean by even meaner men! Finally, Lockwood deplores this meanness and its consequences: “Dogfighting is the greatest perversion of the special relationship that exists between people and dogs. It is people subjecting dogs to incredible cruelty. And now that has turned into dogs killing people.”
You begin to wonder, have pit bulls done more harm to people, or have people done more harm to pit bulls? How fitting the Bible’s words at Proverbs 12:10: “The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal, but the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel.”
PROVERBS 12:11)
“The one who cultivates his land will be satisfied with food, But the one pursuing worthless things is lacking good sense.”
w08 4/15 p. 3 pars. 2-3 Repudiate “Valueless Things”
2 On the other hand, the Bible also speaks of valueless things and warns against wasting our resources in pursuit of them. In this regard, consider the words of Proverbs 12:11: “The one cultivating his ground will himself be satisfied with bread, but the one pursuing valueless things is in want of heart.” It is not difficult to see how that proverb applies in a literal sense. If a man spends his time and energy working hard to support his family, he stands a good chance of achieving relative security. (1 Tim. 5:8) If, however, he wastes his resources pursuing valueless things, he demonstrates “want of heart,” a lack of balanced judgment and good motivation. Very likely, such a man will find himself in need.
3 What, though, if we apply the principle of the proverb to our worship? Then we see that a Christian who diligently and faithfully serves Jehovah enjoys real security. He can be confident of God’s blessing now and has an unshakable hope for the future. (Matt. 6:33; 1 Tim. 4:10) However, a Christian who is distracted by valueless things puts his relationship with Jehovah and his prospects for everlasting life in danger. How can we avoid that? We have to discern the things in our lives that are “valueless” and cultivate a determination to reject them.—Read Titus 2:11, 12.
w03 1/15 p. 31 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
Drawing upon yet another aspect of agricultural life—tilling the soil—Solomon says: “The one cultivating his ground will himself be satisfied with bread.” Indeed, meaningful hard work reaps benefits. “But the one pursuing valueless things is in want of heart.” (Proverbs 12:11) Lacking good judgment or understanding, the one “in want of heart” pursues idle, speculative, and valueless ventures.
PROVERBS 12:12)
“The wicked man envies what other evil men have caught, But the root of the righteous bears fruit.”
w03 1/15 p. 31 ‘One That Is Good Gets God’s Approval’
The Righteous One Flourishes
“The wicked one has desired the netted prey of bad men,” says the wise king. (Proverbs 12:12a) How does the wicked one do that? Apparently by desiring the spoils gained by evil means.
What can be said of the one who is good? Such a person is a lover of discipline and is firmly rooted in the faith. He is righteous and just, discreet and humble, compassionate and diligent. And “as for the root of the righteous ones,” Solomon states, “it yields,” or “flourishes.” (Proverbs 12:12b; New International Version) “The root of the righteous will remain forever,” says An American Translation. Such a person is stable and secure.
PROVERBS 12:13)
“The evil man is ensnared by his own sinful speech, But the righteous one escapes from distress.”
w03 3/15 p. 26 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
‘The Transgression That Ensnares’
“By the transgression of the lips the bad person is ensnared, but the righteous one gets out of distress,” says Solomon. (Proverbs 12:13) Lying is a transgression of the lips that becomes a death-dealing trap for the one practicing it. (Revelation 21:8) Dishonesty may seem like an easy way to escape punishment or to get out of an unpleasant situation. But does not one lie often lead to other lies? Just as a person who starts gambling with small amounts is drawn into making bigger and bigger bets as he attempts to recover losses, a liar soon finds himself enmeshed in a vicious cycle.
The transgression of the lips further ensnares in that the one lying to others can end up lying to himself. For example, a liar can easily convince himself that he is very knowledgeable and brilliant, while in reality he knows very little. He thus begins to live a lie. Indeed, “he has acted too smoothly to himself in his own eyes to find out his error so as to hate it.” (Psalm 36:2) What a snare lying proves to be! The righteous one, on the other hand, will not get himself into such a difficult situation. Even under distress, he will not resort to a false tongue.
PROVERBS 12:14)
“From the fruitage of his speech a man is satisfied with good, And the work of his hands will reward him.”
w03 3/15 pp. 26-27 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
‘The Fruitage That Satisfies’
“Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked,” warns the apostle Paul. “For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) This principle certainly applies to our speech as well as to our actions. Solomon states: “From the fruitage of a man’s mouth he is satisfied with good, and the very doing of a man’s hands will come back to him.”—Proverbs 12:14.
PROVERBS 12:15)
“The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, But the wise one accepts advice.”
it-1 p. 515 Counsel, Counselor
No one human is the depository of all knowledge. Therefore, the person who heeds sound counsel is wise. (Pr 12:15) For one to reject the good counsel of experienced advisers, as did King Rehoboam, is the height of folly.—1Ki 12:8.
w03 3/15 p. 27 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
A mouth that “utters wisdom” produces the fruitage that satisfies. (Psalm 37:30) Wisdom requires knowledge, and no human is the repository of all knowledge. Everyone needs to listen to fine counsel and to heed it. “The way of the foolish one is right in his own eyes,” says the king of Israel, “but the one listening to counsel is wise.”—Proverbs 12:15.
Jehovah gives us sound counsel through his Word and through his organization, using the publications provided by “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45; 2 Timothy 3:16) How foolish to reject good advice and insist on our own way! We “must be swift about hearing” when Jehovah, “the One teaching men knowledge,” counsels us through his channel of communication.—James 1:19; Psalm 94:10.
PROVERBS 12:16)
“A fool immediately shows his annoyance, But the shrewd man overlooks an insult.”
w03 3/15 p. 27 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
How do the wise and the foolish respond to insults or unjust criticisms? Solomon answers: “It is a foolish person that makes known his vexation in the same day, but the shrewd one is covering over a dishonor.”—Proverbs 12:16.
When he is slighted, a foolish person gives an angry response quickly—“in the same day.” But a prudent individual prays for God’s spirit so as to exercise self-control. He takes time to meditate on the advice of God’s Word and appreciatively ponders Jesus’ words: “Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also to him.” (Matthew 5:39) Desiring to “return evil for evil to no one,” the shrewd person restrains his lips from speaking thoughtlessly. (Romans 12:17) When we similarly cover over any dishonor that we may encounter, we avoid further contention.
w87 5/15 p. 29 Fear Jehovah and You Will Be Happy
Lesson for Us: “A foolish person” angrily responds to an insult or “dishonor” quickly, “in the same day.” But “the shrewd one”—a prudent individual—prays for God’s spirit so as to exercise self-control and follow His Word. (Proverbs 12:16) By doing this, we can avoid further contention that could result in emotional or physical harm to ourselves or others.
PROVERBS 12:17)
“The one who testifies faithfully will tell the truth, But a false witness speaks deceit.”
w03 3/15 p. 27 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
The transgression of lips can cause much damage in a judicial setting. The king of Israel says: “He that launches forth faithfulness will tell what is righteous, but a false witness, deception.” (Proverbs 12:17) The true witness launches forth faithfulness because his testimony is reliable and trustworthy. His words contribute toward having justice done. The false witness, on the other hand, is full of deceit and promotes the miscarriage of justice.
PROVERBS 12:18)
“Thoughtless speech is like the stabs of a sword, But the tongue of the wise is a healing.”
cl chap. 10 pp. 102-103 pars. 14-16 “Become Imitators of God” in Your Use of Power
“The tongue of the wise ones is a healing,” says Proverbs 12:18. Yes, positive, wholesome words can be like an application of soothing, healing balm to the heart. Consider some examples.
15 “Speak consolingly to the depressed souls,” urges 1 Thessalonians 5:14. Yes, even faithful servants of Jehovah may at times struggle with depression. How can we help such ones? Offer specific, genuine commendation to help them see their own value in Jehovah’s eyes. Share with them the powerful words of Bible texts showing that Jehovah truly cares about and loves those who are “broken at heart” and “crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) When we use the power of our tongue to console others, we show that we are imitating our compassionate God, “who comforts the depressed.”—2 Corinthians 7:6, New American Standard Bible.
16 We can also use the power of our tongue to provide much-needed encouragement to others. Has a fellow believer lost a loved one in death? Sympathetic words expressing our care and concern can comfort a grieving heart. Is an elderly brother or sister feeling unneeded? A thoughtful tongue can reassure older ones that they are valued and appreciated. Is someone struggling with a chronic illness? Kind words shared on the phone or in person can do much to lift the spirits of one who is sick. How pleased our Creator must be when we use the power of speech to utter sayings that are “good for building up”!—Ephesians 4:29.
lv chap. 12 pp. 134-135 par. 5 Speak What “Is Good for Building Up”
5 Vividly describing the power of words, another proverb says: “Thoughtless speech is like the stabs of a sword.” (Proverbs 12:18) Thoughtless words said in haste can cause deep emotional wounds and destroy relationships. Has your heart ever been pierced by the thrusts of a verbal sword? On the positive side, the same proverb says: “The tongue of the wise is a healing.” Thoughtful words from one who manifests godly wisdom can mend an aching heart and restore relationships. Can you recall an occasion when you experienced the healing power of kind words? (Read Proverbs 16:24.) Recognizing that spoken words have power, we certainly want to use our speech to heal others, not to hurt them.
w05 6/1 p. 20 When Marital Disagreements Arise
Indeed, a Bible proverb says: “Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword.” (Proverbs 12:18, Today’s English Version) Yes, harsh speech may leave emotional scars that linger long after the dispute has ended. Arguing may even lead to violence.—Exodus 21:18.
w04 11/15 p. 27 “The Tent of the Upright Ones Will Flourish”
The Scriptures state: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) The words of a wise person are not rash or cutting. His heart meditates so as to answer. (Proverbs 15:28) His well-thought-out speech is healing—it encourages the depressed souls and refreshes the downtrodden. Rather than irritating others, his lips promote peace and calmness.
w03 3/15 pp. 27-28 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
“There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword,” continues Solomon, “but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) Words can pierce like a sword, killing friendships and stirring up trouble. Or they can be delightful and pleasant, preserving friendships. And what are name-calling, shouting, constant criticism, and degrading insults if not the stabs that cause deep emotional wounds? How good it is to correct any slipups we may make in this area with healing words of sincere apology!
During the difficult times that we live in, it is not surprising that many are “broken at heart” and “crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) When we “speak consolingly to the depressed souls” and “support the weak,” are we not putting into effect the healing power of spoken words? (1 Thessalonians 5:14) Yes, sympathetic words can encourage teenagers who are battling harmful peer pressure. A thoughtful tongue can reassure the elderly that they are needed and loved. Kind words can certainly brighten the day of those who are sick. Even reproof is easier to accept when given “in a spirit of mildness.” (Galatians 6:1) And how healing is the tongue of the one who uses it to share the good news of God’s Kingdom with those who listen!
w00 3/1 p. 17 par. 15 “Search for Jehovah and His Strength”
15 However, the tongue can build up as well as tear down. The Bible proverb says: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) Wise Christians use the power of the tongue to comfort the depressed and the bereaved. Sympathetic words can encourage teenagers who are battling harmful peer pressure. A thoughtful tongue can reassure elderly brothers and sisters that they are still needed and loved. Kindly words can brighten the day of those who are sick. Above all, we can employ our tongue to share the powerful Kingdom message with all who will listen.
w98 7/1 p. 32 Does Your Speech Stab or Heal?
Does Your Speech Stab or Heal?
DURING these difficult times, it is hardly surprising that many are “broken at heart” and “crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) Thus, in the words of the apostle Paul, there is a constant need to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls” and to “support the weak.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) But what if our fellowman offends us or does something seriously wrong? In such a situation, we might feel justified in simply chastising the individual. However, a caution is in order. Counsel, even when valid, can be harmful if it is delivered in a harsh manner. Proverbs 12:18 states: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword.”
Therefore, when we set out to offer correction or handle a misunderstanding, it is vital to remember the second part of Proverbs 12:18: “The tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” Always ask yourself, ‘If I needed correction, how would I want to be dealt with?’ Most of us are more responsive to encouragement than to criticism. So be generous with commendation. This will often give the offender the incentive to improve, and he will more likely be grateful for any help offered.
How vital it is always to temper our words with mildness! Healing words will leave the listener feeling as did the psalmist, who wrote: “Should the righteous one strike me, it would be a loving-kindness; and should he reprove me, it would be oil upon the head, which my head would not want to refuse.”—Psalm 141:5.
ba p. 26 A Practical Book for Modern Living
“There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) Think before you speak. Thoughtless words can wound others and kill friendships.
w96 9/15 p. 23 Do You Really Need to Apologize?
Proverbs 12:18 points out: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” ‘Thoughtless stabs’ cannot be undone, but they can be healed by a sincere apology. Of course, this requires continuous awareness and effort.
fy chap. 12 p. 147 par. 16 You Can Overcome Problems That Damage a Family
16 Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse. Often the assault is verbal. Proverbs 12:18 says: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword.” These “stabs” that characterize domestic violence include name-calling and shouting, as well as constant criticism, degrading insults, and threats of physical violence. The wounds of emotional violence are invisible and often go unnoticed by others.
PROVERBS 12:19)
“Truthful lips will endure forever, But a lying tongue will last for only a moment.”
w07 2/1 p. 7 Why Be Truthful?
Truth Will Be Established Forever
“It is the lip of truth that will be firmly established forever, but the tongue of falsehood will be only as long as a moment,” explains Proverbs 12:19. Yes, truthful speech is marked by durability and permanence. And human relationships are more stable and satisfying when people are committed to speaking the truth and acting in harmony with it. Indeed, truthfulness brings immediate rewards. These include a clean conscience, a good reputation, and strong relationships in marriage, in the family, among friends, and even in business.
Lies, on the other hand, cannot stand the test of time. A tongue that utters falsehood may deceive for a while, but untruth does not prevail in the long term. Furthermore, Jehovah, the God of truth, has set a time limit for the toleration of untruth and of those who promote lies. The Bible promises that Jehovah will wipe out the influence of Satan the Devil, the father of the lie, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth. Jehovah will soon put an end to all lies and liars.—Revelation 21:8.
What a relief it will be when at last “the lip of truth” will be firmly established forever!
w03 3/15 p. 28 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
‘The Lip That Endures’
Using the word “lip” as synonymous with “tongue,” Solomon states: “It is the lip of truth that will be firmly established forever, but the tongue of falsehood will be only as long as a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19) The expression “the lip of truth” is singular in Hebrew and has a deeper meaning than just truthful speech. “It implies such qualities as durability, permanence and reliability,” says one reference work. “Speech which has this quality will endure . . . for ever because it will be found to be reliable, in contrast with the lying tongue . . . which may deceive for a moment but cannot prevail when put to the test.”
PROVERBS 12:23)
“A shrewd man conceals what he knows, But the heart of the fool blurts out his foolishness.”
w06 9/15 p. 18 par. 9 Highlights From the Book of Proverbs
12:23—How does one ‘cover knowledge’? Covering knowledge does not mean that one does not display it at all. Rather, it means that one displays knowledge discreetly, not making a showy display of it by bragging.
w03 3/15 p. 29 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
‘Speech That Covers Over Knowledge’
Describing yet another difference between the one who is careful about words and the one who is not, the king of Israel says: “A shrewd man is covering knowledge, but the heart of the stupid ones is one that calls out foolishness.”—Proverbs 12:23.
A shrewd, or prudent, man knows when to speak and when not to. He is covering over knowledge by restraining himself from making a showy display of what he knows. This does not mean that he always hides his knowledge. Rather, he is discreet in his display of it. On the contrary, the stupid one is quick to speak and make his foolishness known. Let our words, therefore, be few and our tongue refrain from bragging.
PROVERBS 12:24)
“The hand of the diligent ones will rule, But idle hands will be put to forced labor.”
it-1 p. 848 Forced Labor
Laziness could easily get an Israelite into debt and in time force him to sell his inheritance and also himself into slavery. Hence the proverb: “The slack hand will come to be for forced labor.”—Pr 12:24.
w03 3/15 p. 29 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
Continuing to draw contrasts, Solomon makes a dramatic point regarding diligence and slothfulness. He states: “The hand of the diligent ones is the one that will rule, but the slack hand will come to be for forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24) Hard work can lead to advancement and financial independence, laziness to forced labor and servitude. “Given enough time,” says one scholar, “the lazy man will become a slave to the diligent one.”
PROVERBS 12:25)
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word cheers it up.”
it-1 p. 118 Anxiety
Anxiety can be damaging to one’s well-being. It can lead to depression, robbing one of strength and the initiative to act. Says the inspired proverb: “Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down.” (Pr 12:25) There can be serious physical manifestations from worry. Observes the book How to Master Your Nerves: “Doctors know how anxiety can affect the body’s functions. It can raise (or lower) blood pressure; it can elevate the white blood cell count; it can suddenly affect the blood sugar by the action of adrenalin on the liver. It can even change your electrocardiogram. Dr. Charles Mayo said: ‘Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system.’”—By Drs. P. Steincrohn and D. LaFia, 1970, p. 14.
w03 3/15 pp. 29-30 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
‘The Word That Causes Rejoicing’
King Solomon returns to the matter of speech with a keen observation about human nature. “Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down,” he says, “but the good word is what makes it rejoice.”—Proverbs 12:25.
Many are the anxieties and concerns that can cause the heart to be weighed down with sadness. What is needed to lighten the burden and make the heart rejoice is a good word of encouragement from an understanding person. But how would others know the intensity of the anxious care in our heart unless we open up and talk about it? Yes, when experiencing distress or depression, we need to confide in an empathetic person who can help. Moreover, putting feelings into words relieves some of the heart’s anguish. Therefore, it is good to confide in a marriage mate, a parent, or a compassionate and spiritually qualified friend.
What better words of encouragement are there than those found in the Bible? We must then draw close to God by appreciatively meditating on his inspired Word. Such reflection can certainly bring joy into a troubled heart and light to sad eyes. The psalmist attests to this, saying: “The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise. The orders from Jehovah are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine.”—Psalm 19:7, 8.
w90 3/1 pp. 5-6 Winning the Battle Against Depression
Pour Out Your Feelings
He should talk to someone about it. Proverbs 12:25 states: “Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down, but the good word is what makes it rejoice.” No other human can know the intensity of the anxious care in your heart unless you open up and talk about it. By confiding in an empathetic person who can help, you will likely learn that others have had similar feelings and problems. Also, putting feelings into words is a healing process, for it relieves the heart to give expression to the painful experience rather than bottle it up. Therefore, depressed souls should confide in a marriage mate, a parent, or a compassionate and spiritually qualified friend.—Galatians 6:1.
g87 10/22 p. 12 Winning the Fight Against Depression
Putting your feelings into words is a healing process that prevents your mind from trying to deny the reality of the problem or loss and, hence, leaving this unresolved. But open up your real feelings. Don’t allow a sense of false pride, wanting to have an undaunted-by-adversity appearance, to inhibit you. “Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down, but the good word is what makes it rejoice,” states Proverbs 12:25. Yet, only by opening up can others begin to understand your “anxious care” and thus give that “good word” of encouragement.
PROVERBS 12:26)
“The righteous one searches out his pastures, But the course of the wicked leads them astray.”
w03 3/15 p. 30 ‘The Lips of Truth Will Endure Forever’
The Path That Is Rewarding
Contrasting the way of the upright with that of the wicked, the king of Israel says: “The righteous one spies out his own pasturage, but the very way of wicked ones causes them to wander about.” (Proverbs 12:26) The righteous one is cautious about his own pasturage—the associates and friends whom he chooses. He selects them wisely, endeavoring to avoid dangerous contacts. Not so with the wicked, who refuse counsel and insist on their own way. Misled, they wander about.
PROVERBS 12:27)
“The lazy do not chase after the prey, But diligence is a man’s precious treasure.”
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King Solomon next presents the difference between the slack and the diligent from yet another perspective. “Slackness will not start up one’s game animals,” he says, “but the diligent one is a man’s precious wealth.” (Proverbs 12:27) A slack person—“the lazy man”—does not “start up,” or “roast,” his game. (New International Version) For that matter, he cannot finish what he starts. Diligence, on the other hand, is synonymous with riches.
So harmful is laziness that the apostle Paul found it necessary to write to fellow Christians in Thessalonica and correct certain individuals there who were “walking disorderly”—not working at all but meddling with what did not concern them. Such ones imposed an expensive burden on the rest. So Paul openly counseled them, exhorting them to ‘work with quietness so that they could eat food they themselves earned.’ And if they would not respond to this firm counsel, Paul admonished others in the congregation to “withdraw” from them—to avoid them, evidently in social matters.—2 Thessalonians 3:6-12.
PROVERBS 13:1)
“A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But the scoffer does not listen to a rebuke.”
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Be Teachable
“A son is wise where there is a father’s discipline, but the ridiculer is one that has not heard rebuke,” states Proverbs 13:1. Discipline from a father can be mild or severe. It can come in the form of training first, and if that is rejected, eventually as punishment. A son is wise when he accepts his father’s discipline.
“Whom Jehovah loves he disciplines,” says the Bible, and “he scourges every one whom he receives as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6) One way our heavenly Father disciplines us is through his written Word, the Bible. When we read the Bible with respect and we respond to what we learn there, his Word actually disciplines us. This is to our advantage, for everything Jehovah says is for our benefit.—Isaiah 48:17.
Discipline can also come to us as a correction from a fellow believer who is interested in our spiritual welfare. Any helpful advice that is in harmony with God’s Word can be viewed, not as originating with that person, but as coming from the great Source of truth. We are wise to accept it as coming from Jehovah. When we do that and allow it to mold our thinking, to improve our understanding of the Scriptures, and to correct our ways, we are benefiting from the discipline. The same is true of the counsel we receive at Christian meetings and from Bible-based publications. Responsiveness to what we learn through such written or spoken words is a splendid form of self-discipline.
The ridiculer, on the other hand, is not responsive to discipline. “Because he thinks that he knows what is best,” says one reference work, he “is not teachable.” He does not respond even to a rebuke—a stronger form of discipline. But can he ever prove the Father’s discipline to be wrong? Jehovah has never been wrong, and he never will be. By rejecting discipline, the ridiculer only makes himself ridiculous. With a few well-chosen words, how beautifully Solomon shows the value of being teachable!
PROVERBS 13:2)
“From the fruitage of his speech a man will eat what is good, But the very desire of the treacherous is for violence.”
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Guard Your Tongue!
To show the importance of being guided by God’s Word in our speech, the king of Israel likens the mouth to a fruit-bearing tree. He says: “From the fruitage of his mouth a man will eat good, but the very soul [“soulful desire,” footnote] of those dealing treacherously is violence.” (Proverbs 13:2) Spoken words are the fruitage of the mouth. And a man reaps what he has sown with his words. “If his words are kindly intentioned and directed to the establishment of friendly relationship with his neighbours,” says one scholar, “he will eat good, enjoy a happy and peaceful existence.” The matter turns out differently for the treacherous one. He wants to commit violence and to harm others. Violence he schemes, and violence he receives. The snares of death are at his doorstep.
PROVERBS 13:3)
“The one guarding his mouth protects his life, But the one opening his lips wide will come to ruin.”
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A person “opening wide his lips” is one who speaks thoughtlessly or unwisely. (Pr 13:3) It can bring him to ruin, for God holds everyone accountable for his words.—De 23:23; Nu 30:6-8; Pr 12:13; compare Job 2:10; Mt 12:36, 37.
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“The one guarding his mouth is keeping his soul,” continues Solomon. “The one opening wide his lips—he will have ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3) A ruined reputation, hurt feelings, strained relations, and even physical harm are all possible results of thoughtless, foolish speech. Lips wide open can also bring divine disapproval, for God holds everyone accountable for his words. (Matthew 12:36, 37) Indeed, keeping tight control over our mouth will save us from ruin. How, though, can we learn to guard our mouth?
One simple way to do this is not to talk too much. “In the abundance of words there does not fail to be transgression,” says the Bible. (Proverbs 10:19) Another way is to think before speaking. The inspired writer declares: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword.” (Proverbs 12:18) When no forethought is given to what is being said, both the speaker and his listeners can be hurt. Therefore, the Bible gives us this practical advice: “The heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer.”—Proverbs 15:28.
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Guard Your Mouth!
IT CAN be as sharp and destructive as a weapon of war. But it can also be as sweet as honey and as soothing as balm. It can bring about life, and it can bring about death. Thus the Bible describes the faculty of human speech.—Proverbs 12:18; 16:24; 18:21.
No wonder, then, that Solomon said: “The one guarding his mouth is keeping his soul. The one opening wide his lips—he will have ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3) A ruined reputation, hurt feelings, strained relations, and even physical harm—all of these are the possible results of foolish speech. Doubtless, though, you are one who wants to ‘keep his soul.’ How can you learn to guard your mouth and avoid potential ruin?
“In the Abundance of Words . . .
One simple way is not to talk too much! Perhaps you have been around a man or a woman who seems to have something to say on every matter. How irritating such a person can be! “The mouth of the stupid ones bubbles forth with foolishness,” and “the foolish one speaks many words,” says the Bible. (Proverbs 15:2; Ecclesiastes 10:14) Of course, this does not mean that every talkative person is a fool or that everyone who speaks little is wise. But it is dangerous to talk incessantly. Proverbs 10:19 puts it this way: “In the abundance of words there does not fail to be transgression, but the one keeping his lips in check is acting discreetly.”
Meditate Before Answering
Another way to guard your mouth is to think before you speak. When no forethought is given to what is being said, both the speaker and his listeners can be hurt. The inspired writer declares: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword.”—Proverbs 12:18.
Indicating just how bad thoughtless speech can be, the Bible book of James states: “How little a fire it takes to set so great a woodland on fire! Well, the tongue is a fire. The tongue is constituted a world of unrighteousness among our members, for it spots up all the body and sets the wheel of natural life aflame and it is set aflame by Gehenna.”—James 3:5, 6.
Gehenna draws its name from the Valley of Hinnom situated to the south and southwest of Jerusalem. At times in Israel’s history, fires continually burned there to consume the city’s refuse, making Gehenna a fitting symbol of total destruction. How, though, could an unbridled tongue be “set aflame by Gehenna?” A person who speaks lies, promotes God-dishonoring teachings, or otherwise misuses the tongue can cause both himself and others to lose God’s favor. The result? Eternal destruction! For example, Jesus Christ told the Pharisees: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one you make him a subject for Gehenna twice as much so as yourselves.”—Matthew 23:15.
The Bible therefore gives us this practical advice: “The heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer.” (Proverbs 15:28) It is much better to think about what you are going to say, rather than blurt out something that may well do harm!
“A Word at Its Right Time”
Speaking at the right time is yet another way to guard your mouth. Observed Solomon: “For everything there is an appointed time . . . a time to keep quiet and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7) When your mate seems exhausted from a long day of secular work or domestic chores, is that necessarily the time to burden him or her with minor problems or demands? Perhaps this is the “time to keep quiet.”
On the other hand, there is “a time to speak.” We read at Proverbs 15:23: “A word at its right time is O how good!” Do you know someone who is weighed down with problems and troubles? Might not a well-timed word of encouragement be just what that person needs?
Jesus Christ never failed to seize an opportunity to encourage others. Once he told his disciples: “Come, you yourselves, privately into a lonely place and rest up a bit.” The account adds: “So off they went in the boat for a lonely place to themselves. But people saw them going and many got to know it, and from all the cities they ran there together on foot and got ahead of them.” From the vantage point of the crowds, this surely seemed the right time for words of comfort! From the perspective of Jesus and his disciples, however, the timing seemed less than advantageous. “Well, on getting out [of the boat], he saw a great crowd, but he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:31-34) Yes, Jesus guarded his mouth. He knew when to speak and when to be silent.—Compare Matthew 26:63; 27:12-14.
You, too, can learn to guard your mouth. Make a personal effort to avoid talking too much. Avoid thoughtless speech that can hurt your reputation and that of others. And watch for opportunities to share with others a beneficial “word at its right time.” Doing so will help you ‘keep your soul.’—Proverbs 13:3.
[Picture on page 23]
Do you tend to interrupt others or to say something on every subject?
PROVERBS 13:4)
“The lazy person has his cravings, yet he has nothing, But the diligent one will be fully satisfied.”
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We are told that those who are generous, diligent, and reliant on Jehovah “will be made fat,” that is, prosper abundantly. (Pr 11:25; 13:4; 28:25)
it-2 p. 227 Laziness
The lazy person is not one who has “self-sufficiency” or contentment with “sustenance and covering.” (1Ti 6:6-8) Rather, he has desires for things, usually for much more than food or clothing. “The lazy one is showing himself desirous, but his soul has nothing.” (Pr 13:4)
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13:4. To be “desirous” of a position of responsibility in the congregation or of life in the new world is in itself not enough. We must also be industrious and put forth diligent effort to meet the requirements.
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Be Diligent
“The lazy one is showing himself desirous,” Solomon states, “but his soul has nothing. However, the very soul of the diligent ones will be made fat.” (Proverbs 13:4) “The point [of this proverb] is that mere desire is utterly futile,” states one reference work, and “industry is what counts. Lazy people are victims of the desires . . . that consume them, and they simply have nothing to show for themselves.” However, the soul, or the desire, of the diligent ones is satisfied—fattened.
What can be said about those who hold back from making a dedication to Jehovah because they want to avoid responsibility? They may show themselves desirous of living in God’s new world, but are they willing to do something about it? A requirement for those who “come out of the great tribulation” is that they have exercised faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, made a dedication to Jehovah, and symbolized their dedication by water baptism.—Revelation 7:14, 15.
Consider also what is involved in reaching out for an office of oversight in the congregation. The desire to reach out for this fine work is certainly commendable and is encouraged in the Scriptures. (1 Timothy 3:1) However, showing oneself desirous is not enough. To qualify for a position requires cultivating needed qualities and abilities. That calls for diligent personal effort.
PROVERBS 13:5)
“The righteous one hates lies, But the actions of the wicked bring shame and disgrace.”
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Righteousness—A Safeguard
A righteous person cultivates godly qualities and speaks the truth. He realizes that lying is against Jehovah’s law. (Proverbs 6:16-19; Colossians 3:9) In this regard, Solomon states: “A false word is what the righteous hates, but the wicked ones act shamefully and cause disgrace for themselves.” (Proverbs 13:5) The righteous one does not simply avoid lies; he actually hates them. He knows that no matter how innocent they seem to be, lies are destructive to good human relationships. Moreover, the credibility of the one who resorts to lies is shattered. The wicked one acts shamefully either by lying or in some other way, and thus he causes disgrace for himself.
PROVERBS 13:6)
“Righteousness protects the one whose way is innocent, But wickedness brings down the sinner.”
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To show that doing what is right in God’s eyes is beneficial, the wise king says: “Righteousness itself safeguards the one who is harmless in his way, but wickedness is what subverts the sinner.” (Proverbs 13:6) Like a fortress, righteousness protects a person, whereas wickedness ruins him.
PROVERBS 13:7)
“There is one who pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; There is another who pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.”
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Do Not Pretend
Showing an understanding of human nature, the king of Israel observes: “There exists the one that is pretending to be rich and yet he has nothing at all; there is the one that is pretending to be of little means and yet he has many valuable things.” (Proverbs 13:7) A person may not be what he appears to be. Some poor people may pretend to be rich—perhaps to make a showy display, to give an impression of being successful, or just to save face. A rich person may pretend to be poor, simply to hide his wealth.
Neither a false display nor a concealment is good. If our material resources are low, spending money on luxuries just to appear well-off can rob us and our families of the necessities of life. And pretending to be poor though he has riches may make a person a miser, depriving him of due dignity and the happiness that comes from being generous. (Acts 20:35) To live honestly is to lead a better life.
PROVERBS 13:8)
“Riches are the ransom for a man’s life, But the poor are not even threatened.”
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Wisdom That Protects
“Riches are the ransom for a man’s life, but the poor are not even threatened.”—PROVERBS 13:8.
WHILE being rich may have certain advantages, wealth is a mixed blessing, especially in our perilous times. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) In some lands, the wealthy, including tourists who look affluent, have become targets of thieves and kidnappers seeking a ransom.
Concerning one developing country, a news report stated: “Violent robberies, fraud and kidnappings pit the haves against the have-nots. Restaurants post armed guards; the homes of the wealthy have walls with razor-wire, floodlights, cameras and security guards.” A similar situation exists in many other lands.
Yet, “the poor,” the Bible says, “are not even threatened.” How can you benefit from that gem of wisdom? If you live in an area known for crime and violence or if you have to travel to such a place, do not attract attention to yourself by appearing to be affluent. Think carefully about what you wear and carry in public, especially if your possessions would be noticed. “The shrewd one sees the danger,” says Proverbs 22:3, “but the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.”
The wisdom recorded in the Bible reflects our Creator’s care for us. He wants us to be safe. Such “wisdom is a protection,” says Ecclesiastes 7:12, for it “preserves the life of its owner.”
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Keep Desires Simple
“The ransom for a man’s soul is his riches,” says Solomon, “but the one of little means has not heard rebuke.” (Proverbs 13:8) What lesson is conveyed in this wise saying?
There are advantages to being rich, but having riches is not an unqualified blessing. In the troublesome times that we live in, the rich often find themselves and their families in danger of being kidnapped and held for ransom. At times, a rich man can pay a ransom to buy back his life or that of a family member. But often the kidnapped one is murdered. Such a threat is always hanging over the head of the rich.
The man of little means has no such worry. While he may not have the many conveniences and material things that the rich enjoy, he is less likely to become the target of kidnappers. This is one benefit of keeping our wants simple and not expending our time and energy in the pursuit of wealth.—2 Timothy 2:4.
PROVERBS 13:9)
“The light of the righteous shines brightly, But the lamp of the wicked will be extinguished.”
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Other Figurative Uses. What a person depends upon to light his way is symbolized by a lamp. With such a figure the proverb contrasts the righteous and the wicked, saying: “The very light of the righteous ones will rejoice; but the lamp of the wicked ones—it will be extinguished.” (Pr 13:9) The light of the righteous continually becomes more brilliant, but however brilliantly the lamp of the wicked appears to shine and however prosperous his way may seem as a consequence, God will see to it that he ends up in darkness, where his foot will certainly stumble. Such an outcome is ahead for the person calling down evil on his father and mother.—Pr 20:20.
One’s ‘lamp being extinguished’ also means that there is no future for him. Another proverb says: “There will prove to be no future for anyone bad; the very lamp of wicked people will be extinguished.”—Pr 24:20.
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Rejoice in the “Light”
Solomon continues to show that doing things Jehovah’s way is in our best interests. “The very light of the righteous ones will rejoice,” he says, “but the lamp of the wicked ones—it will be extinguished.”—Proverbs 13:9.
The lamp is symbolic of what we depend upon to light our way in life. ‘God’s word is a lamp to the foot of the righteous one and a light to his roadway.’ (Psalm 119:105) It contains inexhaustible knowledge and wisdom of the Creator. The more we improve our understanding of God’s will and purpose, the more brilliant becomes the spiritual light that guides us. What a source of joy that is! Why should we be distracted by worldly wisdom or that which is “falsely called ‘knowledge’”?—1 Timothy 6:20; 1 Corinthians 1:20; Colossians 2:8.
As for the wicked one, regardless of how brilliantly his lamp appears to shine and how prosperous he may seem to be, his lamp will be extinguished. He will end up in darkness, where his foot is bound to stumble. Moreover, “there will prove to be no future” for him.—Proverbs 24:20.
PROVERBS 13:10)
“Presumptuousness leads only to strife, But wisdom belongs to those who seek advice.”
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A person not sure of what action he should take on a matter, or not certain if it is within his authority to do a certain thing, should by all means first consult others who have knowledge and discernment. The Scriptures counsel: “By presumptuousness one only causes a struggle, but with those consulting together there is wisdom.” (Pr 13:10)
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What should we do, though, when there is uncertainty as to what action we should take in a given situation? What if we are not sure if it is within our authority to act at all? Proverbs 13:10 warns: “By presumptuousness one only causes a struggle.” Acting without knowledge or outside our authority is presumptuous and is bound to cause friction. Would it not be better to consult others who have knowledge and discernment? “With those consulting together there is wisdom,” says the wise king.
PROVERBS 13:11)
“Wealth quickly gained will dwindle, But the wealth of the one who gathers it little by little will increase.”
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Beware of False Expectations
Money can serve a useful purpose. Having adequate finances is better than having to live in an austere way or in poverty. (Ecclesiastes 7:11, 12) However, perceived benefits of ill-gained wealth can be deceptive. Solomon warns: “Valuable things resulting from vanity become fewer, but the one collecting by the hand is the one that makes increase.”—Proverbs 13:11.
Consider, for example, the lure of gambling. A gambler may spend his hard-earned money hoping to win a large sum. But how often this is done at the expense of his family! And what happens if the gambler wins? Since the money has come easily, he may have very little appreciation for its value. Moreover, he simply may not have the skill to manage his newly gained prize. Are not his riches likely to disappear as quickly as he acquired them? On the other hand, wealth gradually accumulated—little by little by doing good work—steadily increases and can be put to good use.
PROVERBS 13:12)
“Expectation postponed makes the heart sick, But a desire realized is a tree of life.”
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Proverbs 13:12 reads: “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick, but the thing desired is a tree of life when it does come.” The fulfillment of a long-awaited desire is strengthening and refreshing, giving renewed vigor.
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How Do Unfulfilled Expectations Affect Us?
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus felt sad because the events they expected had not taken place. They experienced what is described at Proverbs 13:12: “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.” Similarly, some of us who have faithfully been serving Jehovah for decades thought that the “great tribulation” would have come and gone by now. (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14) It is understandable that for the moment, such an unfulfilled expectation may cause sadness.
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“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick,” Solomon states, “but the thing desired is a tree of life when it does come.” (Proverbs 13:12) Unfulfilled expectations are bound to lead to disappointments that make the heart sick. This happens in everyday life. However, this is not the case with the expectations that are solidly based on God’s Word. We can have complete confidence that they will be fulfilled. Even apparent delays are less likely to be disappointing.
For example, we know that God’s new world is imminent. (2 Peter 3:13) With eager anticipation we joyfully await the fulfillment of God’s promises. What happens as we use the waiting time to keep busy “in the work of the Lord,” to encourage fellow believers, and to build an ever closer relationship with Jehovah? Rather than becoming ‘sick at heart,’ we are filled with joy. (1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 10:24, 25; James 4:8) When the fulfillment of a long-awaited desire comes, it is a tree of life—truly invigorating and refreshing.
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Waiting—Source of Frustration or of Joy?
19 Solomon knew that waiting can be frustrating. He wrote: “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12) Certainly, if a person is entertaining unfounded expectations, the heart can be sickened by disappointment. However, waiting for happy events—perhaps a wedding, the birth of a child, or a reunion with people we love—can fill us with anticipatory joy long before the day of fulfillment. That joy is intensified if we use the waiting time wisely, making preparations for the coming event.
20 When we have complete confidence that our expectations will be fulfilled—even if we do not know when they will be fulfilled—the waiting period does not have to ‘make the heart sick.’ God’s faithful worshipers know that Christ’s Millennial Reign is imminent. They are confident that they will see the end of death and disease. With eager anticipation they joyfully await the time when they will welcome back billions from the dead, including their dead loved ones. (Revelation 20:1-3, 6; 21:3, 4) In these times of ecological crisis, they relish the certain prospect of seeing Paradise established on earth. (Isaiah 35:1, 2, 7) How wise, then, to use the waiting time judiciously, “always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord”! (1 Corinthians 15:58) Keep on taking in spiritual food. Build an ever closer relationship with Jehovah. Seek out others whose hearts move them to serve Jehovah. Encourage fellow believers. Take the fullest advantage of whatever time Jehovah will yet allow. Then, waiting on Jehovah will never make you ‘sick at heart.’ Instead, it will fill you with joy!
g94 9/8 p. 14 What Can Help You Cope With Stress?
Avoid Unreasonable Expectations
“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick,” says the Bible. (Proverbs 13:12) When expectations are never fulfilled, the stress can be overpowering. This is almost bound to occur when we set our expectations unrealistically high.
g90 10/8 p. 11 A New World Free From Suffering
Today, “expectation postponed is making the heart sick,” as the Bible states. But the situation will be reversed in the new world. At that time “the thing desired [will be] a tree of life when it does come.” (Proverbs 13:12) No more will hearts be made heavy by suffering or by unrealized hopes. Instead, they will be filled with contentment and joy because of the many marvelous things that God will provide for the human family.
PROVERBS 13:13)
“Whoever despises instruction will pay the penalty, But the one who respects the commandment will be rewarded.”
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If a person “despised the word,” by failing to repay a loan, he would forfeit what he put up as a pledge; in like manner a person would experience loss if he failed to obey God’s commandment.—Pr 13:13.
PROVERBS 13:14)
“The teaching of the wise one is a source of life To turn one away from the snares of death.”
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“The Law of the Wise One”—A Source of Life
“O THE depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!” exclaimed the apostle Paul. (Romans 11:33) And the faithful patriarch Job said: “[Jehovah God] is wise in heart.” (Job 9:4) Yes, the Creator of heaven and earth is matchless in wisdom. What can be said about the law, or the written Word, of such a Creator?
The psalmist sang: “The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise. The orders from Jehovah are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine.” (Psalm 19:7, 8) How King Solomon of ancient Israel must have appreciated the truth of those words! He stated: “The law of the wise one is a source of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 13:14)
PROVERBS 13:15)
“Keen insight wins favor, But the way of the treacherous is harsh.”
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Good Insight Wins Favor
“Good insight itself gives favor,” says Solomon, “but the way of those dealing treacherously is rugged.” (Proverbs 13:15) The original-language expression for “good insight,” or good understanding, “describes the capacity for good sense, sound judgment, and wise opinions,” states one reference work. A person having such qualities does not find it difficult to gain the favor of others.
Consider the insightful way in which the apostle Paul dealt with his fellow Christian Philemon when sending back Philemon’s runaway slave Onesimus, who had become a Christian. Paul exhorted Philemon to receive Onesimus back in a kind manner, even as he might welcome the apostle himself. In fact, Paul offered to make the payment if Onesimus owed Philemon anything. Yes, Paul could have used his authority and ordered Philemon to do the right thing. But the apostle chose to handle the matter tactfully and lovingly. In doing so, Paul felt confident that he would win Philemon’s cooperation, moving him to do even more than what he was asked to do. Should we not also deal with fellow believers in this way?—Philemon 8-21.
The way of the treacherous, on the other hand, is rugged, or “hard.” (New International Version) In what sense? According to one scholar, the word used here means “strong or firm, referring to the callous behavior of wicked people. . . . The man who is set in his evil ways, callous and indifferent to the wise instruction of others, is on a path to ruin.”
PROVERBS 13:16)
“The shrewd person acts with knowledge, But the fool exposes his own foolishness.”
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Solomon continues: “Everyone shrewd will act with knowledge, but the one that is stupid will spread abroad foolishness.” (Proverbs 13:16) This shrewd one is not a crafty person. Shrewdness here is connected with knowledge and is associated with a prudent person, who thinks things out before acting. When facing unfair criticism or even insult, the shrewd person keeps his lips in check. He prayerfully tries to manifest the fruitage of the holy spirit so that he does not get overly irritated. (Galatians 5:22, 23) The prudent one does not allow the other person or the situation to control him. Rather, he stays in control and avoids the fights that frequently befall an individual who quickly flares up when offended.
The shrewd one also acts with knowledge when making decisions. He knows that wise actions are rarely a product of guessing, acting on emotions, or simply following the crowd. Therefore, he takes time to investigate the situation at hand. He gathers all the facts and determines what options are open to him. Then he searches the Scriptures and decides which Bible laws or principles apply. The path of such a person remains straight.—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
PROVERBS 13:17)
“A wicked messenger falls into trouble, But a faithful envoy brings healing.”
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“A Faithful Envoy Is a Healing”
As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we are entrusted with the proclamation of a God-given message. The words of the next proverb help us to remain faithful in fulfilling our commission. It says: “A messenger that is wicked will fall into bad, but a faithful envoy is a healing.”—Proverbs 13:17.
The emphasis here is on the qualities of the messenger. What if the bearer of the message wickedly distorts or alters the message? Will he not receive an adverse judgment? Think of the prophet Elisha’s attendant Gehazi, who greedily delivered a false message to the Syrian army chief Naaman. The leprosy that Naaman had been cured of came upon Gehazi. (2 Kings 5:20-27) What if the envoy becomes unfaithful and stops declaring the message altogether? “[If] you actually do not speak out to warn the wicked one from his way,” states the Bible, “he himself as a wicked one will die in his own error, but his blood I [Jehovah] shall ask back at your own hand.”—Ezekiel 33:8.
On the other hand, the faithful envoy is a healing to himself and to those who listen to him. Paul exhorted Timothy: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” (1 Timothy 4:16) Think of the healing that faithful declaration of the Kingdom good news accomplishes. It awakens people of right heart condition and leads them to the truth that sets them free. (John 8:32) Even if people fail to give ear to the message, the loyal messenger ‘will certainly deliver his own soul.’ (Ezekiel 33:9) May we never neglect to fulfill our commission to preach. (1 Corinthians 9:16) And let us always be careful to “preach the word,” never watering it down or sugarcoating it with compromises.—2 Timothy 4:2.
PROVERBS 13:18)
“Whoever neglects discipline comes to poverty and disgrace, But the one accepting correction will be glorified.”
w04 7/15 pp. 29-30 “Everyone Shrewd Will Act With Knowledge”
‘The One Keeping Reproof Is Glorified’
Should a prudent person resent any helpful advice he receives? Proverbs 13:18 states: “The one neglecting discipline comes to poverty and dishonor, but the one keeping a reproof is the one that is glorified.” We are wise to welcome even unrequested reproof. Sound advice may be most helpful when we do not realize that we need it. Heeding such counsel can spare us heartaches and help us to avoid tragedy. Neglecting it will bring dishonor.
Commendation, when deserved, lifts our spirit and is indeed encouraging. But we also need to expect and accept reproof. Consider the two letters that the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy. While commending him for his faithfulness, the letters are full of counsel for Timothy. Paul freely counsels the younger man about holding faith and a good conscience, dealing with others in the congregation, developing godly devotion and self-sufficiency, instructing others, resisting apostasy, and accomplishing his ministry. Younger members of the congregation do well to look for and welcome counsel from more experienced ones.
PROVERBS 13:19)
“Desire when realized is sweet to a person, But the stupid hate to turn away from bad.”
w04 7/15 p. 30 “Everyone Shrewd Will Act With Knowledge”
“Desire when realized is pleasurable to the soul,” says the wise king, “but it is something detestable to the stupid ones to turn away from bad.” (Proverbs 13:19) Concerning the meaning of this proverb, one reference work notes: “When a goal has been reached or a wish realized, the whole of man’s nature becomes suffused with a feeling of satisfaction . . . Since to accomplish one’s aim is a most pleasant experience, it follows that to depart from evil must be an abomination to fools. Their aspirations can only be achieved by bad methods, and were they to abandon evil, they would be denied the pleasure of ever fulfilling their wishes.” How vital that we cultivate proper desires!
PROVERBS 13:20)
“The one walking with the wise will become wise, But the one who has dealings with the stupid will fare badly.”
it-1 p. 200 Association
Whereas good associates can be a real aid in one’s continuing to walk in harmony with divine wisdom, there is no denying the damaging consequences of bad association. The inspired proverb states: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Pr 13:20; compare Pr 22:24, 25; 28:7; 29:3.) The Hebrew word ra•ʽahʹ, translated ‘have dealings with’ in Proverbs 13:20, is also rendered ‘associate with’ and is related to the Hebrew word reʹaʽ, meaning “fellowman; companion.”—Jg 14:20; Le 19:18; Ps 15:3.
lv chap. 3 p. 25 par. 2 Love Those Whom God Loves
2 The Bible expresses an inescapable truth when it says: “The one walking with the wise will become wise, but the one who has dealings with the stupid will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) This proverb speaks about more than casual contact. The expression “walking with” suggests ongoing association. Commenting on this verse, one Bible reference work says: “To walk with a person implies love and attachment.” Would you not agree that we tend to imitate those we love? Indeed, because we attach ourselves emotionally to those we love, they can have a molding effect on us—for good or for bad.
lv chap. 3 p. 25 Love Those Whom God Loves
The Hebrew word rendered “has dealings with” is also rendered “to accompany” and “keep company.”—Judges 14:20; Proverbs 22:24.
w12 7/15 p. 15 par. 13 Serve the God of Freedom
Who are the “wise persons” with whom Jehovah wants me to associate? Who are the “stupid ones” he wants me to avoid? (Ps. 111:10; 112:1; Prov. 1:7)
w12 7/15 p. 15 pars. 12-13 Serve the God of Freedom
The way the verses above are worded shows that Jehovah is appealing to our heart. How so? Notice that none of the verses are set out as rules, such as “you must not . . .” Rather, they are written as plain statements of truth. In effect, Jehovah is saying to us: ‘Here are the facts. How will you respond? What is in your heart?’
13 Finally, because the three verses are set out as basic truths, they are timeless and have a very broad application. To illustrate, ask yourself such questions as:
w12 7/15 p. 15 par. 11 Serve the God of Freedom
“He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Prov. 13:20)
w10 9/1 p. 5 Why Do People Do Bad Things?
“He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.”—PROVERBS 13:20.
There is no minimizing the influence—for good or for bad—that our associates can have on us. So often, people do what they have no intention of doing—all because of peer pressure or, as many say, because they fell into bad company, with disastrous results. In Bible language, “stupid ones” refers, not to those who lack intelligence, but to those who ignore the wise counsel from God’s Word. Young or old, if we do not choose our friends and associates wisely, that is, by the good standards from the Bible, we can expect that we will “fare badly.”
w09 8/15 pp. 20-21 pars. 11-13 “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love”
When it comes to associations, people are like sponges. We tend to absorb whatever is around us. Our Creator well knows how dangerous—and how helpful—associations can be for imperfect humans. Therefore, he gives us this wise counsel: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Prov. 13:20; 1 Cor. 15:33) None of us want to “fare badly.” Each of us wants to “become wise.” Jehovah cannot be made any wiser than he is, nor can he ever be corrupted by anyone. Yet, he sets a beautiful example for us when it comes to associations. Think of it—which imperfect humans does Jehovah choose as his friends?
12 Jehovah referred to the patriarch Abraham as “my friend.” (Isa. 41:8) This man was outstandingly faithful, righteous, and obedient—a man of faith. (Jas. 2:21-23) That is the kind of friend Jehovah chooses. He befriends such people today. If Jehovah chooses such friends, is it not vital that we likewise choose well, that we walk with wise ones and become wise?
13 What can help you to make good choices in this regard? Studying Bible examples can prove motivating. Consider the friendship between Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi, the one between David and Jonathan, or the one between Timothy and Paul. (Ruth 1:16, 17; 1 Sam. 23:16-18; Phil. 2:19-22) These friendships thrived for one reason above all others: They were based on genuine love for Jehovah. Can you find friends who love Jehovah as much as you do? Be assured that the Christian congregation is rich with potential for finding friends of that kind. Such friends will not lead you to fare badly in a spiritual sense. Rather, they will help you to obey Jehovah, to grow spiritually, and to sow with a view to the spirit. (Read Galatians 6:7, 8.)
g 10/06 p. 7 TV—The “Subtle Instructor”
We must be careful about what we watch, for it will affect our thinking. The Bible says: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) Bible scholar Adam Clarke notes: “To walk with a person implies love and attachment; and it is impossible not to imitate those we love. So we say, ‘Show me his company, and I’ll tell you the man.’ Let me know the company he keeps, and I shall easily guess his moral character.” As we have seen, most people spend a great deal of time in the company of television characters who are far from wise, characters a sincere Christian would otherwise never dream of inviting into his home.
w04 7/15 p. 30 “Everyone Shrewd Will Act With Knowledge”
What a powerful effect our associates have on our thoughts, our likes, and our dislikes! Solomon states a timeless truth when he says: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) Yes, our association, even through entertainment, the Internet, and what we read, has a bearing on what we are and will become. How important it is to choose our associates wisely!
g03 3/22 p. 12 Music Videos—How Can I Be Selective?
Proverbs 13:20: “He that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” Ask yourself, ‘Would I invite practicers of violence, spiritism, drunkenness, or immorality into my house?’ Association with such ones through the medium of television is tantamount to inviting them into your home. Can doing so cause you to “fare badly”? Kimberly observes: “I’ve seen situations where girls will, at a gathering, imitate the dress or suggestive dance moves that they had recently watched on a video.” You may have seen something similar. By imitating those who have no regard for godly standards, these youths show that they are already beginning to “fare badly.” So by all means, avoid any form of “bad associations.”—1 Corinthians 15:33.
gm chap. 12 p. 164 pars. 5-6 A Higher Source of Wisdom
5 This Bible statement is also true: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) Have you ever noticed what a powerful effect our associates have on us? Peer pressure has led young people into drunkenness, drug abuse, and immorality. If we mix with those who use foul language, we eventually find ourselves using foul language. Keeping company with dishonest individuals tends to make us dishonest. Truly, as the Bible also says, “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Corinthians 15:33.
6 On the other hand, good associations can improve us. By “walking with wise persons,” we will become wiser ourselves. Good habits rub off, just as bad ones do. Once again, the Bible shows wisdom in encouraging us to choose our associates carefully.
PROVERBS 13:21)
“Calamity pursues sinners, But prosperity rewards the righteous.”
w04 7/15 p. 30 “Everyone Shrewd Will Act With Knowledge”
“Sinners are the ones whom calamity pursues,” declares the king of Israel, “but the righteous are the ones whom good rewards.” (Proverbs 13:21) The pursuit of righteousness is rewarding, for Jehovah cares for the righteous. (Psalm 37:25)
PROVERBS 13:22)
“The good person leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren, But the sinner’s wealth will be stored up for the righteous one.”
it-2 p. 811 Righteousness
Eventual possession of the earth is promised to the righteous; the wicked are to be cleared out of the earth as “a ransom” for the righteous, for as long as the wicked are in control, the righteous cannot have peace. And the possessions of the wicked will go to the righteous, as the proverb states: “The wealth of the sinner is something treasured up for the righteous one.”—Pr 13:22; 21:18.
w04 7/15 pp. 30-31 “Everyone Shrewd Will Act With Knowledge”
“One who is good will leave an inheritance to sons of sons,” states Solomon. (Proverbs 13:22a) What a valuable inheritance parents leave behind when they help their children to take in knowledge of Jehovah and cultivate a good relationship with him! But would it not also be prudent to make arrangements, when possible, for the material welfare of the family in case of a parent’s untimely death? In many places, family heads may be able to arrange for insurance, make a legal will, and set aside some savings.
What can be said about the inheritance of the wicked? “The wealth of the sinner is something treasured up for the righteous one,” continues Solomon. (Proverbs 13:22b) In addition to any benefits now, this will prove to be true when Jehovah fulfills his promise to create “new heavens and a new earth” in which “righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 3:13) The wicked will then have been cleared out of the way, and “the meek ones themselves will possess the earth.”—Psalm 37:11.
w97 8/15 p. 19 par. 9 “Soundness of Mind” as the End Draws Close
9 Have you made provisions to care for your family in case you suffer an untimely death? Proverbs 13:22 says: “One who is good will leave an inheritance to sons of sons.” In addition to an inheritance of knowledge of Jehovah and a relationship with him, parents would be interested in providing materially for their children. In many lands responsible family heads will try to have some savings, a legal will, and insurance. After all, God’s people are not immune to “time and unforeseen occurrence.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Money is “for a protection,” and careful planning can often avert hardship. (Ecclesiastes 7:12) In lands where medical care is not paid for by the government, some may choose to set aside funds for health needs or arrange for some type of health coverage.
PROVERBS 13:23)
“The plowed field of the poor yields much food, But it may be swept away by injustice.”
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A prudent person acts with knowledge even when he possesses very little. “Plowed ground of persons of little means yields a great deal of food,” says Proverbs 13:23, “but there exists the one that is swept away for lack of judgment.” Very little is made much by hard work and God’s blessings. When justice is lacking, however, unfair judgment can sweep away fortunes.
PROVERBS 13:24)
“Whoever holds back his rod hates his son, But the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
w08 4/1 p. 14 Raising Children in a Permissive World
No wonder, then, that Proverbs 13:24 says: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” In this context, the rod of discipline represents a means of correction, whatever form it may take. By administering loving discipline, a parent seeks to correct faults that if they were to become deeply rooted, would cause the child much misery in adult life. Truly, withholding such discipline amounts to hate; administering it is an act of love.
w07 9/1 pp. 22-23 par. 8 Parents—Train Your Children With Love
8 On the other hand, it is not a kindness when parents fail to discipline their children. Jehovah inspired Solomon to write: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” (Proverbs 13:24) Children raised without consistent discipline are likely to be self-centered and unhappy. In contrast, the children of parents who are sympathetic but maintain firm limits were found to perform better at school, to have better social skills, and to be generally happy. Certainly, then, parents who discipline their children are being kind to them.
w04 7/15 p. 31 “Everyone Shrewd Will Act With Knowledge”
“Look for Him With Discipline”
Imperfect people need discipline, and they need it from childhood onward. “The one holding back his rod is hating his son,” says the king of Israel, “but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.”—Proverbs 13:24.
A rod is a symbol of authority. At Proverbs 13:24, it refers to parental authority. In this context, employing the rod of discipline does not necessarily mean spanking a child. Rather, it represents the means of correction, whatever form it may take. In one case, a rebuke kindly given to a child may be sufficient to correct improper behavior. Another child may require a stronger reproof. “A rebuke works deeper in one having understanding than striking a stupid one a hundred times,” says Proverbs 17:10.
Parental discipline should always be directed by love and wisdom for the benefit of children. A loving parent does not overlook his child’s faults. On the contrary, he looks for them so that they can be removed before they become too deeply rooted. Of course, a loving parent takes to heart Paul’s admonition: “Fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 6:4.
What if a parent is permissive and fails to provide needed correction? Will such a parent get thanks later for his permissiveness? Hardly! (Proverbs 29:21) The Bible states: “A boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.” (Proverbs 29:15) To hold back on exercising parental authority shows indifference or a lack of love. Exercising authority kindly and firmly, however, reflects loving concern.
g91 9/22 p. 7 Love at First Sight—And Forever After!
Michele agrees with Proverbs 13:24: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” Use of the rod, representing authority, may involve a spanking, but many times it does not. Different children, different misbehaviors, call for different disciplining. A rebuke kindly given may suffice; stubbornness may require stronger medicine: “A rebuke works deeper in one having understanding than striking a stupid one a hundred times.” (Proverbs 17:10) Also applicable: “A servant [or, a child] will not let himself be corrected by mere words, for he understands but he is paying no heed.”—Proverbs 29:19.
w88 12/15 p. 7 Insight on the News
Using the Rod
“Spare the Rod, but Note the Consequences” was the title of an article appearing in The Natal Mercury, a South African newspaper, lamenting the modern trend of holding back physical punishment from children at home and in school. Who is responsible for this changed attitude toward spanking? Professor Smythe, a pediatrician at the University of Natal, South Africa, places the blame squarely on child psychologists. “Usually on delving into the roots of an emotional issue,” Smythe explains, “one finds the change in attitude starting with psychological dogma. At first violently opposed to any form of physical punishment, then appalled by the consequences of the indiscipline resulting from a creed of no frustrations and no inhibitions.”
Smythe advocates a balance. “Extremes of permissiveness are as bad as extremes of punishment,” he notes, “but the fact that remediation is easier with the overdisciplined than the underdisciplined child favors leaning on the side of discipline when in doubt.” The professor emphasizes that the motive for giving physical punishment should be loving concern for the child’s present and future welfare.
Such advice is not new but a return to the infallible Biblical guidance: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.”—Proverbs 13:24; see also Proverbs 23:13, 14.
w87 10/1 pp. 16-17 pars. 2-5 Discipline Yields Peaceable Fruit
God’s Word says: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” (Proverbs 13:24) Many child psychologists dispute this divine wisdom. Years ago one asked: “Do you mothers realize that every time you spank your child you show that you are hating your child?” Yet their permissiveness produced such a deluge of juvenile delinquents that a Brooklyn court judge made this caustic comment: “I think we need the woodshed for some young folks. But that is not considered fashionable now. Now we are told you must not strike a child; you may be stunting a genius.” But their permissiveness produced no crop of geniuses—only a lawless wave of teenage criminals.
3 Now winds of change are in the air. Burton L. White, authority on child development, says that your strictness will not cause your child to “love you less than if you were lenient. . . . Even if you spank them regularly, you will find they keep coming back to you.” He stresses the child’s primary need for overflowing “irrational love.” Dr. Joyce Brothers reported on a study of hundreds of strictly disciplined fifth and sixth graders who believed that the strict rules “were an expression of parental love.” The Journal of Lifetime Living said: “The child psychologists, wrangling over scheduled versus demand feeding, spanking versus non-spanking, have found that none of it makes much difference so long as the child is loved.” Even Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of Baby and Child Care, took part of the blame for the lack of parental firmness and the resulting delinquency. He said blame rested on the experts, “the child psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, social workers and pediatricians like myself.”
The Rod of Discipline
4 “Rod” as used above does not necessarily mean spanking; it represents the means of correction, whatever form it may take. The New International Version says on this verse: “rod. Probably a figure of speech for discipline of any kind.” A rod is a symbol of rule or authority—in this case parental authority. A parent gets no thanks later for his permissiveness and spoiling: “If one is pampering one’s servant [or child] from youth on, in his later life he will even become a thankless one.” (Proverbs 29:21) To abdicate parental authority by permissiveness brings shame and shows not love but indifference; to use the rod of discipline kindly but firmly reflects loving concern. “The rod and reproof are what give wisdom; but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.”—Proverbs 29:15.
5 Referring to Proverbs 13:24, the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament explains: “A father who truly wishes well to his son keeps him betimes under strict discipline, to give him while he is yet capable of being influenced the right direction, and to allow no errors to root themselves in him; but he who is indulgent toward his child when he ought to be strict, acts as if he really wished his ruin.”
g87 5/22 p. 11 Train Your Child in the Right Way—And Do It From Infancy!
“The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” (Proverbs 13:24) On this verse the New International Version Study Bible footnote says: “rod. Probably a figure of speech for discipline of any kind.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines “rod” as a “sceptre, as an emblem of rule.”
Parental rule may involve spanking, but more often it need not. According to 2 Timothy 2:24, 25, Christians are to be “gentle toward all, . . . instructing with mildness.” The word “instructing” here is translated from the Greek word for discipline. Discipline is to be given with regard for children’s feelings: “And you, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 6:4.
Psychologists championing permissiveness say if you spank your child you hate him. Not true. Permissiveness is hateful. It has loosed a flood of juvenile delinquency and criminality throughout the earth and caused anguish to millions of parents. It is as Proverbs 29:15 says: “A boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.” Under the heading “Strict vs. permissive parents,” Dr. Joyce Brothers says:
“A recent study of almost 2,000 fifth and sixth graders—some of whom had been reared by strict parents, others by permissive ones—produced some surprising results. The children who had been strictly disciplined possessed high self-esteem and [were] high achievers, socially and academically.” Were they resentful of their strict parents? No, “they believed that parental rules had been set up for the children’s own good—and were an expression of parental love.”
tp chap. 15 pp. 172-173 par. 22 Why Care About Other People?
Says Proverbs 13:24: ‘The father who loves his son is he that does look for him with discipline.’ Hence a loving father administers discipline consistently. He patiently explains things to his children and considers the mental, emotional, and physical limitations of each one. (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21)
PROVERBS 13:25)
“The righteous one eats and satisfies his appetite, But the stomach of the wicked is empty.”
w04 7/15 p. 31 “Everyone Shrewd Will Act With Knowledge”
A prudent and upright person who acts with true knowledge will be blessed. Solomon assures us: “The righteous is eating to the satisfaction of his soul, but the belly of the wicked ones will be empty.” (Proverbs 13:25) Jehovah knows what is good for us in any area of life—our family affairs, our relationship with others, our ministry, or when we are being disciplined. And by wisely applying the counsel found in his Word, we will unquestionably enjoy the best way of life.
PROVERBS 14:1)
“The truly wise woman builds up her house, But the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.”
it-2 p. 1196 Woman
Secondarily, the woman was to obey her husband. She was responsible to work hard for the good of the household and to bring honor to her husbandly head. This would bring the greatest glory to her. Proverbs 14:1 says: “The truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.”
w11 5/15 p. 9 par. 11 Christian Families—“Stay Awake”
11 An exemplary wife works for the good of her household. (Read Proverbs 14:1.) In contrast with a foolish woman, who shows disrespect for the headship arrangement, a wise woman has deep respect for this provision. Rather than manifesting the attitude of disobedience and independence that characterizes the world, she is in submission to her mate. (Eph. 2:2) A wife who is foolish does not hesitate to speak unfavorably of her husband, whereas a wise woman works to increase the respect that her children and others have for him. Such a wife is careful not to undermine her husband’s headship by nagging him or arguing with him. There is also the matter of being economical. A foolish woman likely squanders her family’s hard-earned resources. A supportive wife is not like that. She cooperates with her husband in financial matters. Her way of doing things is marked by prudence and economy. She does not pressure her husband to work overtime.
w04 11/15 p. 26 “The Tent of the Upright Ones Will Flourish”
When Wisdom Builds Up a Household
Commenting on the wife’s influence on the welfare of the family, King Solomon of ancient Israel says: “The truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” (Proverbs 14:1) How does a woman possessing wisdom build up her household? A wise woman respects God’s arrangement of headship. (1 Corinthians 11:3) She is not influenced by the spirit of independence that permeates Satan’s world. (Ephesians 2:2) She is in submission to her husband and speaks well of him, increasing the respect others may have for him. A wise woman takes an active part in the spiritual and practical education of her children. She works hard for the good of the household, making the home a pleasant and comfortable place for the family. Her style of management is marked by prudence and economy. A truly wise woman contributes to the prosperity and stability of her household.
A foolish woman lacks respect for God’s arrangement of headship. She does not hesitate to speak ill of her husband. Not being thrifty, she squanders the household’s hard-earned resources. She also wastes time. As a result, the house is not well kept, and the children suffer physically and spiritually. Yes, the foolish one tears down her household.
w97 3/15 p. 14 par. 11 Incline Your Heart to Discernment
11 Wisdom and discernment are unquestionably vital for happy family life. For instance, Proverbs 14:1 says: “The truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” A wise and discerning married woman in proper subjection to her husband will work hard for the good of the household and will thereby help to build up her family. One thing that will ‘build up her house’ is that she always speaks well of her husband and thus increases the respect of others for him. And a capable, discerning wife who has the reverential fear of Jehovah wins praise for herself.—Proverbs 12:4; 31:28, 30.
g90 2/22 pp. 9-10 Enjoying a Warm In-Law Relationship
“The Truly Wise Woman”
If two generations are to cooperate in such a sensitive issue as child training, both must act in wisdom. “The truly wise woman has built up her house,” says a Bible proverb, “but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” (Proverbs 14:1) How can a woman build up her house? Tomiko says that it was communication that helped her to mend her relationship with her daughter-in-law, Fujiko. “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk,” counsels the Bible.—Proverbs 15:22.
Communication does not mean blurting out everything on your mind without regard for the feelings of others. Here is where wisdom comes into play. “A wise person will listen” to what others have to say. Sometimes your in-laws may have something to say, but they hesitate to express themselves. Be discerning, and ‘draw their thoughts up.’ Then ‘meditate’ before you speak.—Proverbs 1:5; 15:28; 20:5.
Timing is very important. “As apples of gold in silver carvings is a word spoken at the right time for it,” says a Bible proverb. (Proverbs 25:11) Tokiko and her daughter-in-law say that they wait till the right time before they express opinions that may rub the other the wrong way. “I try to think before talking when I want to point out something to my daughter-in-law,” says Tokiko. “I keep the points in my mind and speak when she is in a good mood and is not hungry. You see, it is easy to get irritated when you are hungry.”
A wise woman will refrain from speaking ill of her in-laws. “Whether we are mothers-in-law or daughters-in-law, we should be aware that whatever ill we speak of the other party, it will eventually be known to them,” says Sumie Tanaka, a Japanese writer who lived with her mother-in-law for 30 years. Rather, she advocates speaking well of in-laws directly and indirectly.
PROVERBS 14:2)
“The one walking in his uprightness fears Jehovah, But the one whose ways are devious despises Him.”
w04 11/15 pp. 26-27 “The Tent of the Upright Ones Will Flourish”
What, though, determines whether a person is wise or foolish? Proverbs 14:2 states: “The one walking in his uprightness is fearing Jehovah, but the one crooked in his ways is despising Him.” The upright one fears the true God, and “the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10) A truly wise person knows that it is his obligation to “fear the true God and keep his commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) On the other hand, the foolish one follows a course that is not in harmony with God’s standards of uprightness. His ways are crooked. Such a person despises God, saying in his heart: “There is no Jehovah.”—Psalm 14:1.
PROVERBS 14:3)
“The rod of haughtiness is in the mouth of the fool, But the lips of the wise will protect them.”
it-2 p. 1195 Wisdom
“The rod of haughtiness is in the mouth of the foolish one, but the very lips of the wise ones will guard them.” They wisely hold back from presumptuous, harsh, or rash speech. (Pr 14:3; 17:27, 28; Ec 10:12-14)
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When Lips Are Guided by Wisdom
What can be said about the speech of a person who fears Jehovah and of the one who despises Him? “The rod of haughtiness is in the mouth of the foolish one,” says the king, “but the very lips of the wise ones will guard them.” (Proverbs 14:3) Lacking the wisdom from above, a foolish person is neither peaceable nor reasonable. The wisdom that guides his steps is earthly, animal, demonic. He utters words that are contentious and arrogant. The haughtiness in his mouth stirs up much trouble for himself and others.—James 3:13-18.
The lips of a wise person guard, or protect, him, adding to his sense of well-being. How? The Scriptures state: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) The words of a wise person are not rash or cutting. His heart meditates so as to answer. (Proverbs 15:28) His well-thought-out speech is healing—it encourages the depressed souls and refreshes the downtrodden. Rather than irritating others, his lips promote peace and calmness.
PROVERBS 14:4)
“Where there are no cattle the manger is clean, But the power of a bull yields an abundant harvest.”
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When Wisdom Guides Human Endeavors
Solomon next presents an intriguing proverb that seems to deal with the need to weigh the advantages and the disadvantages of undertaking a certain task. He says: “Where there are no cattle the manger is clean, but the crop is abundant because of the power of a bull.”—Proverbs 14:4.
Commenting on the meaning of this proverb, one reference work states: “An empty crib [manger] indicates that there are no oxen [cattle] to feed, and hence one is free of the trouble of cleaning and caring for the animals, and expenses would be less. But this ‘advantage’ is offset in v[erse] 4b: without the use of oxen, it is implied, the harvest will not be great.” The farmer must choose wisely.
Would not the principle of this proverb also apply when we consider changing employment, choosing a certain type of housing, purchasing a car, acquiring a house pet, and the like? A wise person would weigh the advantages and the disadvantages and evaluate whether the endeavor is really worth the effort and expense.
PROVERBS 14:5)
“A faithful witness will not lie, But a false witness lies with every breath.”
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When a Witness Is Wise
“A faithful witness is one that will not lie,” continues Solomon, “but a false witness launches forth mere lies.” (Proverbs 14:5) The lies of a false witness certainly can do much harm. Naboth the Jezreelite was stoned to death because two good-for-nothing men falsely testified against him. (1 Kings 21:7-13) And did not false witnesses come forward against Jesus, leading to his death? (Matthew 26:59-61) False witnesses also testified against Stephen—the first disciple of Jesus to be killed because of his faith.—Acts 6:10, 11.
A man of untruth may go unexposed for the time being, but consider his future. Jehovah hates “a false witness that launches forth lies,” states the Bible. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Such a man’s portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur—the second death—along with such wrongdoers as murderers, fornicators, and idolaters.—Revelation 21:8.
The faithful witness does not commit perjury when testifying. His testimony is not tainted with lies. However, this does not mean that he is under obligation to give full information to those who may want to bring harm to Jehovah’s people in some way. The patriarchs Abraham and Isaac withheld facts from some who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 12:10-19; 20:1-18; 26:1-10) Rahab of Jericho misdirected the king’s men. (Joshua 2:1-7) Jesus Christ himself refrained from divulging total information when doing so would have caused needless harm. (John 7:1-10) He said: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, neither throw your pearls before swine.” Why not? So that “they may never . . . turn around and rip you open.”—Matthew 7:6.
PROVERBS 14:6)
“The scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, But knowledge comes easily to the person with understanding.”
it-2 p. 182 Knowledge
Because a person with understanding is able to connect new information to things he already knows, it can be said that “to the understanding one knowledge is an easy thing.” (Pr 14:6) Knowledge and understanding are allied, and both are to be sought.—Pr 2:5; 18:15.
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When “Knowledge Is an Easy Thing”
Is wisdom a possession of all people? Proverbs 14:6 states: “The ridiculer has sought to find wisdom, and there is none; but to the understanding one knowledge is an easy thing.” A ridiculer, or scoffer, may seek wisdom, but true wisdom eludes him. Since a ridiculer arrogantly scoffs at the things of God, he fails to gain the basic prerequisite for wisdom—accurate knowledge of the true God. His pride and arrogance prevent him from learning about God and gaining wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2) Why does he even bother to look for wisdom? The proverb does not say, but perhaps he does so in order that others may think that he is wise.
“Knowledge is an easy thing” to an understanding person. Understanding is defined as “a mental grasp: comprehension,” “the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars.” It is the ability to connect various aspects of a subject and see the whole matter, not just the isolated parts. This proverb is saying that knowledge comes easy to a person who has this ability.
In this regard, consider your own experience of gaining knowledge of Scriptural truth. When you started to study the Bible, very likely the basic teachings about God, his promises, and his Son were among the first truths you learned. For a time they remained separate details. But as you continued to study, the pieces began to fit together and you could clearly see how various details related to Jehovah’s overall purpose for humans and the earth. The truth from the Bible became logical and connected. Learning and remembering new details then became easier because you could see where to place them in the total picture.
PROVERBS 14:7)
“Stay away from the foolish man, For you will not find knowledge on his lips.”
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The wise king warns of where knowledge is not to be found. “Go away from in front of the stupid man,” he says, “for you will certainly not take note of the lips of knowledge.” (Proverbs 14:7) A stupid person lacks true knowledge. Lips that utter knowledge do not belong to him. The advice is to get away from such a man, and it is wise to stay away from him. Anyone “having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.”—Proverbs 13:20.
PROVERBS 14:8)
“By wisdom the shrewd man understands the way he is going, But the stupid are deceived by their foolishness.”
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“The wisdom of the shrewd is to understand his way,” continues Solomon, “but the foolishness of stupid ones is deception.” (Proverbs 14:8) A wise person gives thought to his actions. He considers the various options that are open to him and ponders the possible outcome to which each one leads. He chooses his course wisely. What about a stupid person? He chooses a foolish way, believing that he knows what he is doing and that he is making the best choice. His foolishness deceives him.
PROVERBS 14:9)
“Fools make fun of guilt, But among the upright, there is a willingness to reconcile.”
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When Wisdom Guides Relationships
The one guided by wisdom has peaceful relationships with others. “Foolish are those who make a derision of guilt,” observes the king of Israel, “but among the upright ones there is agreement.” (Proverbs 14:9) The feeling of guilt, or remorse, is a laughing matter to a fool. He has damaged relationships at home and elsewhere because he is “too arrogant to make amends” and seek peace. (The New English Bible) The upright person is willing to make allowances for the shortcomings of others. He is ready to apologize and make amends when he himself is in the wrong. Because he pursues peace, he enjoys happy and stable relationships with others.—Hebrews 12:14.
PROVERBS 14:10)
“The heart knows its own bitterness, And no outsider can share in its joy.”
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14:10. Since our innermost feelings can neither be precisely expressed at all times nor be always understood by onlookers, the emotional comfort that others can offer has its limitations. We may have to endure some difficulties by relying solely on Jehovah.
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Solomon next points to a limiting factor in human relationships. He says: “The heart is aware of the bitterness of one’s soul, and with its rejoicing no stranger will intermeddle.” (Proverbs 14:10) Can we always express our innermost emotions—whether sadness or joy—to others and share with them precisely what we are experiencing? And can one at all times fully understand how another person feels? The answer to both questions is no.
As an example, consider suicidal feelings. The one having them often cannot clearly communicate these feelings to a family member or a friend. And others cannot always recognize signs of such feelings in their associates. We need not feel guilty when we do not see these signs and fail to take helpful action. This proverb also teaches that although it is comforting to turn to an empathetic friend for emotional support, humans are limited in the comfort they can offer. We may have to rely on Jehovah alone when it comes to enduring some difficulties.
PROVERBS 14:11)
“The house of the wicked will be destroyed, But the tent of the upright will flourish.”
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“Valuable Things and Riches Are in His House”
“The house of wicked people will be annihilated,” states the king of Israel, “but the tent of the upright ones will flourish.” (Proverbs 14:11) A wicked person may prosper in this system of things and may live in a well-built house, but of what benefit will that be to him when he himself is no more? (Psalm 37:10) On the other hand, the dwelling place of an upright one may be quite humble. But “valuable things and riches are in his house,” says Psalm 112:3. What are these?
When our words and deeds are guided by wisdom, we have the “riches and glory” that exist with wisdom. (Proverbs 8:18) They include a peaceful relationship with God and our fellowman, a sense of well-being, and a measure of stability. Yes, “the tent of the upright ones” can flourish even now.
PROVERBS 14:12)
“There is a way that seems right to a man, But in the end it leads to death.”
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Choose Your Course Wisely
Making wise choices and being successful in life certainly require the ability to distinguish what is right from what is wrong. However, the Bible warns: “There exists a way that is upright before a man, but the ways of death are the end of it afterward.” (Proverbs 14:12) Hence, we must learn to differentiate what is truly right from what appears to be right. The expression “the ways of death” indicates that there are many such deceptive paths. Consider some areas that we should be aware of and avoid.
The rich and famous of the world are generally viewed as respectable people to be admired. Their social and financial success may make it seem that their way of doing things is right. What, though, about the means that many of such individuals use to gain wealth or fame? Are their ways always upright and moral? Then there are some individuals who display admirable zeal for their religious beliefs. But does their sincerity really prove that their beliefs are right?—Romans 10:2, 3.
A way may also appear upright because of self-deception. To base our decisions on what we personally feel is right is to depend upon the heart, a treacherous guide. (Jeremiah 17:9) An unenlightened and untrained conscience can lead us into thinking that the wrong way is the right way. What, then, will help us to choose a proper course?
Diligent personal study of the deeper truths of God’s Word is a must if we are to acquire “perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” Moreover, we must train these powers “through use” in applying Bible principles. (Hebrews 5:14) We must be careful not to allow a way that merely seems to be right to cause us to veer off ‘the cramped road leading into life.’—Matthew 7:13, 14.
PROVERBS 14:13)
“Even in laughter the heart may feel pain, And rejoicing may end in grief.”
it-1 p. 102 Amusements
Showing amusement’s relative worth to be small, Proverbs 14:13 says: “Even in laughter [bi•sechohqʹ] the heart may be in pain; and grief is what rejoicing ends up in.” (Compare Ec 2:2; 7:2, 3, 6.)
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When “the Heart May Be in Pain”
Can we be happy when we are not at peace inside? Does laughter and merriment alleviate deep-rooted pain? Is it shrewd to drown feelings of depression in alcohol, to abuse drugs, or to try to eliminate those feelings by adopting a promiscuous lifestyle? The answer is no. “In laughter the heart may be in pain,” says the wise king.—Proverbs 14:13a.
Laughter may mask the pain, but it fails to remove it. “For everything there is an appointed time,” states the Bible. Indeed, there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to wail and a time to skip about.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4) When depression persists, we must take steps to overcome it, seeking “skillful direction” when necessary. (Proverbs 24:6) Laughter and amusement are of some value, but their relative worth is small. Warning against improper forms of amusement and excesses in entertainment, Solomon says: “Grief is what rejoicing ends up in.”—Proverbs 14:13b.
PROVERBS 14:14)
“The one wayward at heart will reap the results of his ways, But the good man reaps the reward of his dealings.”
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The Faithless and the Good—Satisfied How?
“The one faithless at heart will be satisfied with the results of his own ways,” continues the king of Israel, “but the good man with the results of his dealings.” (Proverbs 14:14) How do the faithless and the good get satisfied with the results of their dealings?
A faithless person is not concerned about rendering an account to God. Therefore, doing what is right in Jehovah’s eyes is of no consequence to a man without faith. (1 Peter 4:3-5) Such a person is satisfied with the results of his materialistic lifestyle. (Psalm 144:11-15a) The good person, on the other hand, has spiritual interests at heart. In all his dealings, he adheres to God’s righteous standards. Such an individual is satisfied with the results because Jehovah is his God and he derives incomparable joy from serving the Most High.—Psalm 144:15b.
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♦ 14:14—How is a faithless one satisfied?
“One faithless at heart” is satisfied with his materialistic life-style. (Psalm 144:11-15a) Doing what is right in God’s eyes is of no consequence to him, and he does not think about having to render an account to Jehovah. (1 Peter 4:3-5) But “the good man” rejects the practices of faithless ones and is satisfied “with the results of his dealings.” He keeps spiritual interests first, adheres to God’s standards, has the supreme joy of serving Him, and is satisfied with divine blessings.—Psalm 144:15b.
PROVERBS 14:15)
“The naive person believes every word, But the shrewd one ponders each step.”
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Do Not ‘Put Faith in Every Word’
Contrasting the ways of the inexperienced with those of the prudent, Solomon says: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) The shrewd one is not gullible. Rather than believing everything he hears or letting others do his thinking for him, he considers his steps wisely. Gathering all available facts, he acts with knowledge.
Take, for example, the question, “Is there a God?” The inexperienced one is inclined to go along with what is popular or with what prominent people believe. The shrewd one, on the other hand, takes time to examine the facts. He reflects on such scriptures as Romans 1:20 and Hebrews 3:4. In spiritual matters, a prudent person does not just accept the word of religious leaders. He ‘tests the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.’—1 John 4:1.
How wise it is to heed the advice not to ‘put faith in every word’! Those entrusted with the responsibility to counsel others in the Christian congregation must especially take this to heart. The counselor must have the complete picture of what has transpired. He must listen well and gather facts from all sides so that his counsel is not unsound or one-sided.—Proverbs 18:13; 29:20.
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Consider Your Steps Carefully
What can you do? The Bible gives some good advice on this matter. “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word,” says Proverbs 14:15. This is not destructive cynicism. It is a realistic reminder of the need for caution. Only a very naive, inexperienced person is going to trust blindly every word he hears. With good reason the Bible proverb continues: “But the shrewd one considers his steps.” English playwright William Shakespeare wrote: “Trust not to rotten planks.” Anyone who thinks that the planks on a bridge over a deep drop may be rotten would be very foolish to step on them. How, then, can you ‘consider your steps’ so that you do not misplace your trust?
The Bible encourages us to test out what people say rather than just blindly accept everything we hear. “The ear itself makes a test of words, just as the palate tastes when eating,” it says. (Job 34:3) Isn’t that true? Don’t we usually taste food before we swallow it? We should also make a test of people’s words and actions before we swallow them. No one who is genuine will take offense if we check his credentials. That we should check to see that something is genuine is supported by the Scottish proverb that says: “He that deceives me once, shame fall him; if he deceives me twice, shame fall me.”
g94 12/8 pp. 15-17 Fads—Should I Jump on the Bandwagon?
Considering Your Steps
The Bible does not categorically condemn fads per se. Some popular activities may be appropriate despite their faddish nature. Jogging, for example, was considered a fad by some when it became popular a few years ago. But who can deny the benefits of wholesome, moderate exercise?—Compare 1 Timothy 4:8.
Nevertheless, some fads range from silly to downright dangerous. The warning of an ancient proverb is thus appropriate: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) A shrewd person is wise, discerning. He doesn’t blindly follow some new trend simply because it is popular. Wisely, he weighs the consequences of his actions.
Cost may be one factor to consider. A Canadian magazine tells of a teenage girl who works in a fast-food restaurant. More than half of her hard-earned cash goes to keeping up with the latest clothing fads. “Money is for a protection,” says the Bible, that is, it’s a needed, useful tool. (Ecclesiastes 7:12) Can you afford to squander it on items that are, as one writer puts it, “designed to become obsolete within a season or two”?
Physical danger may be another factor to ponder. Break dancing was popular not too long ago. But it produced a crop of back injuries. What about today? An article in Rolling Stone magazine talks about the wild antics at dance clubs and rock concerts, such as “stage-diving” (leaping from the stage into the arms of cheering fans), “slamming,” and “moshing”—“dance” activities that are little more than violence set to the beat of music. “This thing has gotten way out of hand. I mean, really,” complains one youth. She describes how frenzied “moshers” will “commandeer the dance floor and let it rip, undulating in an ever-widening whirlpool, mindlessly bashing into anyone who has the misfortune of standing in the vicinity.” Such behavior may impress some of your peers. But will being in such places or doing such things gain the favor of God, who commands Christians to “repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind”?—Titus 2:12.
What about the health dangers of body piercing and tattooing—also gaining in popularity among youths? Doctors say that tattooing can pose medical risks, such as hepatitis and perhaps AIDS, if sanitary measures are not taken. Then there is the prospect of being permanently decorated long after the fad has passed out of style. True, some tattoos can be zapped away by a laser. But laser treatment involves several painful sessions, costing hundreds of dollars each.
Most deadly of all is the spiritual damage that can result from following certain fads. Many of them center on celebrities—actors, athletes, musicians, and the like. It becomes “cool” to dress and act like whoever is currently in the limelight. But how does Jehovah God view such hero worship? As a form of idolatry. The Bible thus warns: “Flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14) Many celebrities have no regard whatsoever for the Bible’s moral standards. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Such being the case, could God possibly be pleased if you act or dress in ways that, in effect, pay homage to such ones?
g89 7/22 p. 19 What Should I Do if People Gossip About Me?
Strategies for Dealing With Gossip
Proverbs 14:15 says that “the shrewd one considers his steps.” This would suggest calmly mapping out a strategy to deal effectively with gossip.
You might begin by considering how serious the gossip is. Perhaps the story circulating about you, while embarrassing or even untrue, is genuinely amusing and really does not besmirch your character. In other words, you would have preferred that the world not know of your locking yourself out of your own house during a rainstorm or of your splitting your gym shorts while doing sit-ups, but now that the word is out, is it really such a disaster? Perhaps the best way to let the rumor die is to display a sense of humor.
Suppose, though, that the rumor is really uncomplimentary or insulting? Is it really likely to cause lasting damage to your reputation—or will it more likely die out soon? If the latter seems true, it may be best simply to ride out the storm. Keeping a ‘business as usual’ demeanor—rather than going about sulking or looking guilty—will at least prevent your fueling the rumor.
PROVERBS 14:16)
“The wise one is cautious and turns away from evil, But the stupid one is reckless and overconfident.”
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Pointing to yet another difference between the wise and the foolish, the king of Israel says: “The wise one fears and is turning away from badness, but the stupid is becoming furious and self-confident.
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Proverbs 14:16,
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The wise person fears the consequences of following a wrong course. Therefore, he is cautious and appreciates any counsel that helps him to avoid badness. The stupid one does not have such fear. Being self-confident, he arrogantly ignores the counsel of others.
PROVERBS 14:17)
“The one who is quick to anger acts foolishly, But the man who thinks things out is hated.”
it-2 pp. 1094-1095 Thinking Ability
However, the one who truly exercises thinking ability may also become an object of hatred. This could be the thought expressed at Proverbs 14:17: “The man of thinking abilities is hated.” Often persons who are not thinkers themselves look unfavorably upon those who utilize their mental faculties. Also, in principle, those who exercise their minds in doing God’s will are hated. As Jesus Christ said: “Because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.” (Joh 15:19) Of course, the original-language term for “thinking abilities” at Proverbs 14:17 can embrace malicious thinking. Therefore, the text may also mean that a man who devises evil is hated, and some translations read accordingly: “And a man of wicked devices is hated.”—JP, Ro.
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14:17—In what way is ‘the man of thinking abilities hated’? The Hebrew expression translated “thinking abilities” can mean either discernment or malicious thinking. A man of wicked ideas is, of course, hated. But so is the man of discernment who exercises his thinking abilities and chooses to be “no part of the world.”—John 15:19.
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Prone to becoming furious, such a person acts foolishly. But how is it that a man of thinking abilities becomes an object of hostility?
The original-language expression translated “thinking abilities” has two meanings. In a positive sense, it can denote discernment or cleverness. (Proverbs 1:4; 2:11; 3:21) Or negatively, the phrase can refer to wicked ideas or malicious thinking.—Psalm 37:7; Proverbs 12:2; 24:8.
If the expression “the man of thinking abilities” refers to a malicious schemer, it is not difficult to see why such a person is hated. However, is it not true that a man of discernment may also be hated by those lacking this quality? For example, those who exercise their mental faculties and choose to be “no part of the world” are hated by the world. (John 15:19) Christian youths who exercise their thinking abilities and stand up to unwholesome peer pressure in order to avoid improper behavior are ridiculed. The fact is that true worshippers are hated by the world, which is lying in the power of Satan the Devil.—1 John 5:19.
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He that is quick to anger will commit foolishness, but the man of thinking abilities is hated.”—Proverbs 14:16, 17.
PROVERBS 14:18)
“The naive will inherit foolishness, But the shrewd are crowned with knowledge.”
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The prudent, or the shrewd, differ from inexperienced ones in yet another way. “The inexperienced ones will certainly take possession of foolishness, but the shrewd ones will bear knowledge as a headdress.” (Proverbs 14:18) Lacking discernment, the inexperienced ones choose what is foolish. This becomes their lot in life. On the other hand, knowledge adorns the shrewd just as a crown honors a king.
PROVERBS 14:19)
“Bad people will have to bow down before the good, And the wicked will bow at the gates of the righteous.”
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“Bad people will have to bow down before the good ones,” says the wise king, “and the wicked people at the gates of the righteous one.” (Proverbs 14:19) In other words, the good will ultimately triumph over the wicked. Consider the increase in numbers and the superior way of life that God’s people enjoy today. Seeing these blessings bestowed upon Jehovah’s servants will force some opposers to “bow down” to Jehovah’s figurative heavenly woman, represented by the spirit-anointed remnant on earth. At Armageddon at the latest, those opposers will be compelled to acknowledge that the earthly part of God’s organization truly represents the heavenly part.—Isaiah 60:1, 14; Galatians 6:16; Revelation 16:14, 16.
PROVERBS 14:20)
“The poor man is hated even by his neighbors, But many are the friends of the rich person.”
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MONEY AND FAVORITISM
“The poor man is hated even by his neighbors, but many are the friends of the rich person.”—Proverbs 14:20.
As that verse from the Bible indicates, our view of money can affect how we treat people. For example, we might tend to despise those who have little means and who can do nothing for us. On the other hand, we might fawn over those who are rich, ingratiating ourselves with them in an effort to gain their favor—and perhaps some type of monetary reward.
The Bible expresses disapproval of people who show favoritism, whether by despising the lowly or by “flattering others for their own benefit.” (Jude 16; Isaiah 10:1, 2) Make it your goal to view and treat people equally.
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“The Rich Have Many Friends”
When the rich or those who pretend to be rich flaunt their belongings, what kind of friends might they attract? The Bible gives us a clue in this wise saying about human nature: “No one likes the poor, not even their neighbors, but the rich have many friends.”—Proverbs 14:20, Good News Translation.
The implication is this: The “many friends” of the rich are friends, not so much of the people themselves, but of their wealth. Their so-called friendship is rooted in self-interest, as is their flattering speech. The Bible calls such speech “a false front for covetousness,” or greed.—1 Thessalonians 2:5.
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Making an observation about human nature, Solomon says: “Even to his fellowman one who is of little means is an object of hatred, but many are the friends of the rich person.” (Proverbs 14:20) How true this is of imperfect humans! Being selfishly inclined, they tend to favor the rich over the poor. While the friends of the rich person are many, they are as transitory as his wealth. Should we not then avoid making friends by means of money or flattery?
PROVERBS 14:21)
“The one who despises his neighbor sins, But whoever shows compassion to the lowly is happy.”
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What if an honest self-examination reveals that we curry the favor of the rich and look down on those of little means? We must realize that showing such favoritism is condemned in the Bible. It states: “The one despising his own fellowman is sinning, but happy is he who is showing favor to the afflicted ones.”—Proverbs 14:21.
We should show consideration to those in difficult circumstances. (James 1:27) How can we do this? By providing “this world’s means for supporting life,” which can include money, food, shelter, clothing, and personal attention. (1 John 3:17) Happy is he who is showing favor to such ones, since “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
w86 10/15 Be Happy—Show Favor to the Afflicted
Be Happy—Show Favor to the Afflicted
“The one despising his own fellowman is sinning, but happy is he who is showing favor to the afflicted ones.”—PROVERBS 14:21.
WHILE three Philippine families in Pangasinan Province were attending a Christian meeting, an accidental fire burned their houses to ashes. Upon returning home, they found themselves with no food or place to sleep. Fellow Christians, learning of the disaster, rushed over with food and arranged accommodations with others in the congregation. The next morning, Christians arrived with bamboo and other building materials. This brotherly love impressed the neighbors. The three families were affected for the good too. The fire destroyed their houses, but their faith and other Christian qualities survived and grew because of the loving response.—Matthew 6:33; compare 1 Corinthians 3:12-14.
2 Are not experiences such as this heartwarming? They build our faith in human kindness and even more so in the power of real Christianity. (Acts 28:2) Do we appreciate, though, the Scriptural basis for such ‘working what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith’? (Galatians 6:10) And how might we personally do more in this regard?
An Excellent Pattern for Us
3 The disciple James tells us: “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above.” (James 1:17) How true that is, for Jehovah provides abundantly for our spiritual and material good! To what, however, does he give priority? To spiritual things. He, for instance, gave us the Bible so that we may have spiritual guidance and hope. That hope centers on the gift of his Son, whose sacrifice is the basis for our being forgiven and having the prospect of eternal life.—John 3:16; Matthew 20:28.
4 Jehovah is interested in our material welfare too. The apostle Paul reasoned on this with men in ancient Lystra. Though they were not true worshipers, they could not deny that the Creator ‘has done good, giving us rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts to the full with food and good cheer.’ (Acts 14:15-17) Out of love, Jehovah both supplies our spiritual needs and makes provision for our physical life. Do you not think that this contributes to his being “the happy God”?—1 Timothy 1:11.
5 God’s dealings with ancient Israel illustrate his balanced attention both to his worshipers’ spiritual needs and to their material situation. First, he made the Law available to his people. His kings had to prepare a personal copy of the Law, and the people assembled periodically to hear His Law read. (Deuteronomy 17:18; 31:9-13) The Law provided for a tabernacle or temple and for priests to handle sacrifices so that the people could have God’s favor. The Israelites assembled regularly for spiritual festivals, highlights in their yearly worship. (Deuteronomy 16:1-17) As a result of all of this, individual Israelites could be spiritually rich before God.
6 The Law, though, manifested also how attentive God is to his servants’ physical circumstances. Perhaps what comes to your mind are laws given to Israel regarding sanitation and steps that minimized the spread of infection. (Deuteronomy 14:11-21; 23:10-14) Yet we should not overlook God’s special provisions made to help the impoverished and the afflicted. Poor health or a disaster such as a fire or a flood might bring an Israelite into poverty. Right in his Law Jehovah acknowledged that not all would be equal economically. (Deuteronomy 15:11) But he did more than merely sympathize with the poor and the afflicted. He arranged for aid.
7 Food would be an immediate need for such ones. So God directed that the poor in Israel be free to glean in the fields and vineyards or from the olive trees. (Deuteronomy 24:19-22; Leviticus 19:9, 10; 23:22) God’s way did not encourage people to be lazy or to live on public handouts when they could work. An Israelite gleaner had to put forth effort, maybe spending long hours under the hot sun to gather food for the day. We should not overlook, however, that in this way God considerately provided for the impoverished.—Compare Ruth 2:2-7; Psalm 69:33; 102:17.
8 Jehovah further stressed his interest in the afflicted by pronouncements such as at Isaiah 58:6, 7. At a time when some self-satisfied Israelites were going through a pretense of fasting, God’s prophet declared: “Is not this the fast that I choose? To . . . send away the crushed ones free, and that you people should tear in two every yoke bar? Is it not the dividing of your bread out to the hungry one, and that you should bring the afflicted, homeless people into your house? That, in case you should see someone naked, you must cover him, and that you should not hide yourself from your own flesh?” Some individuals today guard what might be called their ‘comfort zone.’ They are willing to help a needy person only if it does not mean any personal sacrifice or inconvenience for them. What a different spirit was emphasized in God’s words through Isaiah!—See also Ezekiel 18:5-9.
9 Concern for poor Israelite brothers might be demonstrated in making loans. An Israelite could expect to be paid interest when lending money to someone who wanted to use it to engage in or expand his business. Jehovah said not to charge interest, however, on money lent to a poor brother, whose desperation might otherwise tempt him into wrongdoing. (Exodus 22:25; Deuteronomy 15:7, 8, 11; 23:19, 20; Proverbs 6:30, 31) God’s attitude toward the unfortunate was to be a pattern for his people. We are even promised: “He that is showing favor to the lowly one is lending to Jehovah, and his treatment He will repay to him.” (Proverbs 19:17) Just imagine that—lending to Jehovah, with assurance of his amply repaying you!
10 We should all thus ask: What does God’s view and treatment of the afflicted mean to me? Have I been learning from his perfect pattern and attempting to imitate it? Can I improve as to being in God’s image in this respect?—Genesis 1:26.
Like Father, Like Son
11 Jesus Christ “is the reflection of [Jehovah’s] glory and the exact representation of his very being.” (Hebrews 1:3) Hence, we would expect him to reflect his Father’s concern for those interested in true worship. He did. Jesus showed that the poverty needing to be remedied the most is spiritual poverty: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Matthew 5:3; compare Luke 6:20.) Christ also said: “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) Accordingly, he was not known mainly as a miracle worker or a healer but as Teacher. (Mark 10:17-21; 12:28-33) In this connection, note Mark 6:30-34. We read of a time when Jesus had sought some private time to recuperate. Then “he saw a great crowd . . . [who] were as sheep without a shepherd.” How did he react? “He started to teach them many things.” Yes, Jesus extended himself in response to their greatest need: truth by which they could live forever.—John 4:14; 6:51.
12 While Jesus focused on the spiritual needs of humble Jews, he did not ignore their material needs. Mark’s account shows that Jesus was alert to the need for literal food. The apostles first suggested that the crowd be sent away to “buy themselves something to eat.” Jesus did not agree. Then the apostles brought up the possibility of taking some of the operating funds that they carried and using that to buy food. Instead, Jesus chose to perform the famous miracle by which he fed 5,000 men, besides women and children, a basic meal of bread and fish. Some today might feel that it was easy for Jesus to fill the crowd’s needs miraculously. Still, we should not overlook the fact that he had genuine concern, and he acted on that.—Mark 6:35-44; Matthew 14:21.
13 You have probably read Gospel accounts that prove that Jesus’ feelings for the unfortunate extended beyond the poor. He helped the sick and the afflicted also. (Luke 6:17-19; 17:12-19; John 5:2-9; 9:1-7) Nor was it a matter of healing just those who happened to be near him. Sometimes he traveled to the sick one in order to provide help.—Luke 8:41-55.
14 However, were the needs of poor and afflicted disciples (or truth seekers) the concern only of those who could provide relief by performing miracles? No. All of Jesus’ disciples were to be concerned and to act accordingly. For example, he urged a rich man who wanted everlasting life: “Sell all the things you have and distribute to poor people, and you will have treasure in the heavens.” (Luke 18:18-22) Jesus also counseled: “When you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.”—Luke 14:13, 14.
15 A Christian is a follower of Christ, so each of us could ask: To what extent am I imitating Jesus’ attitude and actions toward the poor, the afflicted, the unfortunate? Can I honestly say, as did the apostle Paul: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ”?—1 Corinthians 11:1.
Paul—A Happy Example
16 It is appropriate to bring up Paul in this connection, for he also was a fine example to imitate. As we would expect, his primary focus was on the spiritual needs of others. He was an ‘ambassador substituting for Christ, begging others, “Become reconciled to God.”’ (2 Corinthians 5:20) Paul’s special assignment was to preach and to build up congregations among the non-Jews. He wrote: “I had entrusted to me the good news for those who are uncircumcised.”—Galatians 2:7.
17 But since Paul said that he was imitating Christ, did he (like Jehovah and Jesus) give attention to the physical afflictions or difficulties of fellow worshipers? Let Paul himself answer. In Galatians 2:9, he continued: ‘James and Cephas [Peter] and John gave me and Barnabas the right hand of sharing together, that we should go to the nations.’ Then in the very next verse Paul added: “Only we should keep the poor in mind. This very thing I have also earnestly endeavored to do.” (Galatians 2:10) So Paul appreciated that, even though he was a missionary-apostle with responsibilities to many congregations, he could not be too busy to be interested in the physical welfare of his brothers and sisters.
18 Likely, “the poor” that he spoke of in Galatians 2:10 were mainly Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and Judea. Earlier there had been “murmuring . . . on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution” of food. (Acts 6:1) Thus, when mentioning his being an apostle to the nations, Paul made it clear that he was not ignoring any in the Christian brotherhood. (Romans 11:13) He appreciated that the physical care of brothers was included in the words: “There should be no division in the body, but . . . its members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the other members suffer with it.”—1 Corinthians 12:25, 26.
19 When Christians in Jerusalem and Judea suffered because of poverty, local famine, or persecution, some distant congregations responded. They, of course, would have been remembering their needy brothers in prayers for God’s support and comfort. But they did not stop there. Paul wrote that “those in Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share up their things by a contribution to the poor of the holy ones in Jerusalem.” (Romans 15:26, 27) Those making such financial contributions to their afflicted brothers were “being enriched for every sort of generosity, which produces through us an expression of thanks to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:1-13) Would that not be cause for them to be happy?
20 The brothers who shared their funds with “the poor of the holy ones in Jerusalem” had an additional basis for happiness. Their caring for the afflicted would assist the contributors to have God’s approval. We can see why by noting that the Greek word rendered “contribution” in Romans 15:26 and 2 Corinthians 9:13 contains the idea of “sign of fellowship, proof of brotherly unity, even gift.” It is used at Hebrews 13:16, which says: “Do not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Will We Be Happy?
21 In this discussion, we have examined the Scriptural evidence that Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and the apostle Paul cared for the afflicted. We have noted that all of them recognized that spiritual needs should receive first attention. But it is also true that they all showed in very practical ways their interest in the poor, the sick, and those experiencing misfortune. They could find happiness in providing practical help. Should it be any less true of us? The apostle Paul urged us to “bear in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’”—Acts 20:35.
22 You may well ask, though: Just what can I personally do? How can I know who are genuinely in need? How can I offer aid in a way that does not encourage laziness, that is kind and realistic, that takes into consideration others’ feelings, and that is in balance with my Christian duty to spread the good news? The following article will address itself to aspects of this matter, laying a basis for you to find additional happiness.
[Footnotes]
Interestingly, Jesus himself was not embarrassed or too proud to accept material help from others.—Luke 5:29; 7:36, 37; 8:3.
PROVERBS 14:22)
“Will not those who plot mischief go astray? But those intent on doing good will receive loyal love and faithfulness.”
w05 7/15 p. 20 “The Shrewd One Considers His Steps”
How Do They Fare?
The principle “whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap” applies to the shrewd person as well as to the foolish one. (Galatians 6:7) The former does what is good; the latter devises mischief. “Will not those devising mischief go wandering about?” asks the wise king. The answer is yes; they do “go astray.” (An American Translation) “But there are loving-kindness and trueness as regards those devising good.” (Proverbs 14:22) Those who do good enjoy the goodwill of others as well as God’s loving-kindness.
PROVERBS 14:23)
“There is benefit in every kind of hard work, But mere talk leads to want.”
w05 7/15 p. 20 “The Shrewd One Considers His Steps”
Associating success with hard work and linking failure with much talk and little action, Solomon says: “By every kind of toil there comes to be an advantage, but merely the word of the lips tends to want.” (Proverbs 14:23) This principle certainly applies to our spiritual endeavors. When we work hard in the Christian ministry, we reap the rewards of introducing the lifesaving truth of God’s Word to many others. Faithfully carrying out any theocratic assignment we may receive leads to joy and satisfaction.
w97 9/15 p. 22 How to Maintain Joy in Full-Time Service
Proverbs 14:23 tells us that “by every kind of toil there comes to be an advantage.” Regardless of what assignment we have been given, carrying it out faithfully contributes to the accomplishment of Kingdom work. And there can be great satisfaction—yes, joy—in such God-given work.—Compare 1 Corinthians 12:18, 27, 28.
PROVERBS 14:24)
“The crown of the wise is their wealth; But the foolishness of the stupid is only foolishness.”
w05 7/15 p. 20 “The Shrewd One Considers His Steps”
“The crown of the wise is their riches; the foolishness of the stupid ones is foolishness,” says Proverbs 14:24. This could mean that the wisdom that the wise strive to attain is their riches, and it crowns, or adorns, them. The stupid, on the other hand, gain merely foolishness. According to one reference work, this proverb could also suggest that “wealth is an ornament to those who use it well . . . [whereas] fools only have their folly.” Whatever the case, the wise one fares better than the foolish one.
PROVERBS 14:25)
“A true witness saves lives, But a deceitful one lies with every breath.”
w05 7/15 p. 20 “The Shrewd One Considers His Steps”
“A true witness is delivering souls,” says the king of Israel, “but a deceitful one launches forth mere lies.” (Proverbs 14:25) While this certainly is true in a judicial context, consider its implications for our ministry. Our Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work involves bearing witness to the truth of God’s Word. That witness delivers righthearted individuals from false religion and saves lives. By paying constant attention to ourselves and to our teaching, we will save both ourselves and those who listen to us. (1 Timothy 4:16) As we continue to do this, let us be alert to display shrewdness in all aspects of life.
PROVERBS 14:26)
“There is strong confidence in the fear of Jehovah, And it will be a refuge for his children.”
w05 9/15 p. 13 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
Source of “Strong Confidence”
“In the fear of Jehovah there is strong confidence,” states Solomon, “and for his sons there will come to be a refuge.” (Proverbs 14:26) A God-fearing man’s source of trust is none other than the loyal and almighty God, Jehovah. No wonder such a man faces what lies ahead with strong confidence! His future is long and blessed.
What, though, can be said about the future of those who put their confidence in the world—its schemes, its organizations, its ideologies, and its goods? Whatever future they hope to have is short, for the Bible states: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) Is there any reason for us, then, to “be loving either the world or the things in the world”?—1 John 2:15.
What measures can God-fearing parents take to ensure that “there will come to be a refuge” for their children? “Come, you sons, listen to me,” sang the psalmist, “the fear of Jehovah is what I shall teach you.” (Psalm 34:11) When children by parental example and instruction are taught to fear God, they are more likely to grow up to be men and women who have strong confidence in Jehovah.—Proverbs 22:6.
PROVERBS 14:27)
“The fear of Jehovah is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.”
w05 9/15 p. 13 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
“The fear of Jehovah is a well of life,” continues Solomon, “to turn away from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:27) The fear of Jehovah is “a well of life” because the true God is “the source of living water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Taking in knowledge of Jehovah and of Jesus Christ can mean everlasting life for us. (John 17:3) Godly fear also turns us away from the snares of death. How? Proverbs 13:14 states: “The law of the wise one is a source of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.” When we fear Jehovah, obey his law, and allow his Word to guide our steps, are we not protected from harmful practices and emotions that can lead to early death?
PROVERBS 14:28)
“A multitude of people are a king’s majesty, But a ruler without subjects is ruined.”
it-1 p. 51 Adornment
The Proverbs show that if a great number of people choose to live under and delight in the rule of a king, this is one measure of his success. It is an adornment to him, recommending and adding luster to him as a ruler. (Pr 14:28) Jehovah is such a ruler by his Messianic Kingdom.—Ps 22:27-31; Php 2:10, 11.
w05 9/15 p. 14 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
“Adornment of a King”
During most of his reign, Solomon was a God-fearing king who obeyed Jehovah. This contributed to a successful rulership. What determines how well a king rules? Proverbs 14:28 answers: “In the multitude of people there is an adornment of a king, but in the lack of population is the ruin of a high official.” The success of a king is measured by the welfare of his subjects. If a great multitude of people desire to remain under his rulership, that recommends him as a good ruler. Solomon had “subjects from [the Red] sea to [the Mediterranean] sea and from the River [Euphrates] to the ends of the earth.” (Psalm 72:6-8) His rulership was marked by unprecedented peace and prosperity. (1 Kings 4:24, 25) Solomon’s reign was a success. On the other hand, a lack of approval by the populace spells disgrace for a high official.
In this regard, what can be said about the glory of the Greater Solomon, the Messianic King, Jesus Christ? Think of the subjects he has even today. From one end of the earth to the other, over six million God-fearing men and women have already chosen to live under Christ’s rulership. They exercise faith in Jesus and are united in true worship of the living God. (John 14:1) By the end of the Millennial Rule, all those in God’s memory will have been resurrected. A paradise earth will then be full of happy, righteous people who have manifested appreciation for their King. What a testimony that will be to the success of Christ’s rulership! Let us hold fast to our wonderful Kingdom hope.
ws chap. 8 pp. 71-72 pars. 15-16 Sharing in “the Joy” of the “Prince of Peace”
15 Wise King Solomon of ancient Israel wrote: “In the multitude of people there is an adornment of a king.” (Proverbs 14:28) The royal Master of today, Christ Jesus, who is an official far higher than earthly King Solomon, has just such an “adornment” as regards a “multitude of people.” This is true even now before the start of his rulership of a thousand years, yes, when he is reigning in the midst of his earthly enemies, over whom Satan the Devil is the superhuman invisible king.—Matthew 4:8, 9; Luke 4:5, 6.
16 Today’s “adornment” fit for a high official with the rank of king is now found in the swelling number of his “other sheep” who make up the “great crowd.”
PROVERBS 14:29)
“The one who is slow to anger has great discernment, But the impatient one displays his foolishness.”
it-1 p. 110 Anger
Avoiding the damaging effects. Not only does anger have an adverse effect upon our spiritual health but it produces profound effects on the physical organism. It can cause rise in blood pressure, arterial changes, respiratory trouble, liver upsets, changes in the secretion of gall, effects on the pancreas. Anger and rage, as strong emotions, have been listed by physicians as contributing to, aggravating, or even causing such ailments as asthma, eye afflictions, skin diseases, hives, ulcers, and dental and digestive troubles. Rage and fury can upset thinking processes so that one cannot form logical conclusions or pass sound judgment. The aftermath of a fit of rage is often a period of extreme mental depression. It is therefore wisdom not only in a religious sense but in a physical sense to keep anger under control and to pursue peace and love.—Pr 14:29, 30; Ro 14:19; Jas 3:17; 1Pe 3:11.
w05 9/15 p. 14 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
Proverbs 14:29 states: “He that is slow to anger is abundant in discernment, but one that is impatient is exalting foolishness.” Discernment helps us to realize that uncontrolled anger has a damaging effect on our spirituality. “Enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions” are listed among the works that could prevent us from ‘inheriting God’s kingdom.’ (Galatians 5:19-21) We are counseled against harboring even justifiable anger. (Ephesians 4:26, 27) And impatience can lead to foolish speech and action that we later regret.
g02 2/8 p. 24 What Is Provoking the Age of Rage?
Dr. Redford B. Williams states in JAMA: “The simplistic advice, ‘when angry, let it out,’ is unlikely . . . to be of much help. Far more important is to learn how to evaluate your anger and then to manage it.” He suggests asking yourself: “(1) Is this situation important to me? (2) Are my thoughts and feelings appropriate to the objective facts? (3) Is this situation modifiable, so that I don’t have to have this anger?”
Proverbs 14:29; 29:11 “He that is slow to anger is abundant in discernment, but one that is impatient is exalting foolishness. All his spirit is what a stupid one lets out, but he that is wise keeps it calm to the last.”
w97 3/15 pp. 13-14 pars. 7-8 Incline Your Heart to Discernment
7 Inclining our heart to discernment also helps us to control our spirit. “He that is slow to anger is abundant in discernment,” says Proverbs 14:29, “but one that is impatient is exalting foolishness.” One reason why a discerning person strives to avoid uncontrolled anger is that it has adverse effects upon us physically. It can raise blood pressure and cause respiratory trouble. Doctors have cited anger and rage as emotions aggravating or causing such ailments as asthma, skin diseases, digestive problems, and ulcers.
8 It is not just to avoid injuring our health that we should use discernment and be “slow to anger.” Being impatient can lead to foolish actions that we will regret. Discernment makes us consider what could result from unbridled speech or rash conduct and thus keeps us from “exalting foolishness” by doing something unwise. Especially does discernment help us to realize that rage can upset our thinking processes, so that we cannot use sound judgment. This would impair our ability to do the divine will and live according to God’s righteous principles. Yes, yielding to uncontrolled anger is spiritually damaging. In fact, “fits of anger” are classed among the detestable “works of the flesh” that would keep us from inheriting God’s Kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21) As discerning Christians, then, let us be “swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.”—James 1:19.
w90 9/15 p. 22 Control Your Spirit!
“He that is slow to anger is abundant in discernment, but one that is impatient is exalting foolishness.” (Proverbs 14:29) Being impatient when emotionally stirred up can lead to foolish actions. How much better it is to consider what could result from unbridled speech or conduct! Otherwise, a person may act impatiently and do what is unwise, thus “exalting foolishness.” Therefore, be “slow to anger,” as God is, and you will avoid impatient and unwise actions.—Exodus 34:6.
PROVERBS 14:30)
“A calm heart gives life to the body, But jealousy is rottenness to the bones.”
it-1 p. 110 Anger
Avoiding the damaging effects. Not only does anger have an adverse effect upon our spiritual health but it produces profound effects on the physical organism. It can cause rise in blood pressure, arterial changes, respiratory trouble, liver upsets, changes in the secretion of gall, effects on the pancreas. Anger and rage, as strong emotions, have been listed by physicians as contributing to, aggravating, or even causing such ailments as asthma, eye afflictions, skin diseases, hives, ulcers, and dental and digestive troubles. Rage and fury can upset thinking processes so that one cannot form logical conclusions or pass sound judgment. The aftermath of a fit of rage is often a period of extreme mental depression. It is therefore wisdom not only in a religious sense but in a physical sense to keep anger under control and to pursue peace and love.—Pr 14:29, 30; Ro 14:19; Jas 3:17; 1Pe 3:11.
it-1 p. 353 Bones
The harboring of jealousy toward others can also be destructive to a person physically and spiritually, and so “jealousy is rottenness to the bones.”—Pr 14:30.
w12 6/1 p. 8 Practical Today
Calmness, strong friendships, and generosity can improve your health. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports: “Men who experience outbursts of anger have twice the risk of stroke as men who control their tempers.”
w12 6/1 p. 8 Practical Today
For example, it states that “a calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.” (Proverbs 14:30)
g 8/11 p. 29 Wisdom for Heart and Health
“A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.”—PROVERBS 14:30.
g 8/11 p. 29 Wisdom for Heart and Health
Concerning a calm heart versus one given to anger, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology states: “Current findings suggest a harmful association between anger and hostility and CHD [coronary heart disease].” Hence, the Journal notes: “Successful prevention and treatment of CHD might involve . . . not only conventional physical and pharmacological therapies, but also psychological management focusing on anger and hostility.” Simply put, a calm heart fosters good health, just as the Bible says.
g 5/06 p. 28 Is It Practical to Be Peaceable?
▪ CALMNESS OF HEART “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism,” says Proverbs 14:30. Many medical reports indicate that anger and hostility can become triggers for strokes and heart attacks. Recently, a medical journal, when speaking of people with heart disease, compared explosive anger to poison. The journal also stated that “getting really mad can mean getting really sick.” Those who pursue peace, however, can develop “a calm heart” and reap benefits.
One example of this is Jim, a 61-year-old who is now a Bible teacher in a Vietnamese community. He explains: “After six years in the military and three combat tours in Vietnam, I knew violence, anger, and frustration very well. My past plagued me, causing sleep problems. Soon stress as well as stomach and nervous conditions affected my health.” What provided relief? He answers: “Studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses saved my life. Learning God’s purpose for a peaceful new world and how I can put on ‘the new personality’ has given me a calm heart. My health has improved greatly as a result.” (Ephesians 4:22-24; Isaiah 65:17; Micah 4:1-4) Many others have concluded from personal experience that developing a peaceable spirit can improve emotional, physical, and spiritual health.—Proverbs 15:13.
w05 9/15 p. 14 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
Pointing to the adverse physical effects of anger, the king of Israel says: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30) Ailments resulting from anger and rage include respiratory troubles, increased blood pressure, liver disorders, and ill effects on the pancreas. Physicians also list anger and rage as emotions that aggravate, or even cause, such illnesses as ulcers, hives, asthma, skin diseases, and digestive problems. On the other hand, “a heart at peace gives life to the body.” (Proverbs 14:30, New International Version) We are wise, then, to “pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another.”—Romans 14:19.
w00 8/15 p. 23 How Do You Handle Differences?
Doing what is within our power to resolve differences agreeably will contribute to our enjoying a healthier life and more peaceful relationships with others. An ancient proverb says: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.”—Proverbs 14:30.
ba pp. 25-26 A Practical Book for Modern Living
A person’s physical health is often affected by the state of his mental and emotional health. For instance, scientific studies have established the harmful effects of anger. “Most of the available evidence suggests that hostile people are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease (as well as other illnesses) for a variety of reasons, including reduced social support, increased biologic reactivity when angered, and increased indulgence in risky health behaviors,” say Dr. Redford Williams, Director of Behavioral Research at Duke University Medical Center, and his wife, Virginia Williams, in their book Anger Kills.13
Thousands of years before such scientific studies, the Bible, in simple but clear terms, made a connection between our emotional state and our physical health: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30; 17:22)
w96 2/1 p. 31 My Lifelong Hope—Never to Die
“I am going to keep a calm heart and be optimistic,” I replied. Indeed, the Bible proverb became my stabilizer: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.”—Proverbs 14:30.
The cancer specialists praised that Bible advice. “That mental outlook is 90 percent of the cure in cancer patients,” they said.
w96 12/15 p. 32 The Benefits of a Calm Heart
The Benefits of a Calm Heart
MODERN medical science has long known that uncontrolled anger has a detrimental effect on the human body. Over a hundred years ago, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) said: “A man falls dead in a fit of rage, and it is said, perhaps, that he had a weak heart, which could not stand the strain imposed by his mental state. Nobody seems to think that this is but the culmination of a long series of such fits of madness, which have themselves caused the weakness in question.”
The above words come as no surprise to students of God’s Word, the Bible. Some 29 centuries before JAMA spoke out about the dangers of a bad temper, King Solomon was inspired to write: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.” (Proverbs 14:30) These words still hold true today.
By maintaining a calm disposition, we are spared the many illnesses that often are stress-related, such as elevated blood pressure, headaches, and respiratory problems. In addition to improved health, however, our relations with others will benefit if we strive to “let anger alone and leave rage.” (Psalm 37:8) People were naturally drawn to Jesus because of his mild temper and heartfelt concern for them. (Mark 6:31-34) Likewise, we will be a source of refreshment to others if we cultivate a calm heart.—Matthew 11:28-30.
g96 12/8 p. 10 How Can the Risk Be Reduced?
When under severe emotional or mental stress, those who have CAD face a much higher risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death than people who have healthy arteries. According to one study, stress can cause arteries laden with plaque to constrict, and this decreases the flow of blood by as much as 27 percent. Significant constriction was seen even in mildly diseased arteries. Another study suggested that severe stress can create the environment for plaque in the artery walls to rupture, triggering a heart attack.
Consumer Reports on Health states: “Some people seem to go through life with a bad attitude. They’re cynical, angry, and easily provoked. Whereas most people let minor aggravations slide, hostile people shift into emotional overdrive.” Chronic anger and hostility raise blood pressure, increase the heart rate, and stimulate the liver to dump cholesterol into the bloodstream. This damages coronary arteries and contributes to CAD. Anger is thought to double heart-attack risk, and this remains an immediate danger for at least two hours. What can help?
According to The New York Times, Dr. Murray Mittleman said that people who tried to remain calm in emotional conflicts might be able to reduce their risk of heart attack. This sounds much like the words recorded in the Bible centuries ago: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.”—Proverbs 14:30.
g93 7/8 p. 32 Anger’s Toll
Anger’s Toll
WHEN you get angry, your heart suffers. A recent study conducted at Stanford University in the United States found that when heart patients were asked to recall incidents that still made them angry, the efficiency of their hearts in pumping blood dropped by 5 percent. While the drop in efficiency was not permanent, doctors consider it meaningful in view of growing evidence that hostile people are much more likely to develop heart disease than are people who are peaceable.
“The five-percentage-point reduction we found in the patients’ cardiac efficiency during anger is a significant, though mild drop,” said Dr. Gail Ironson, who led the research. “The patients said they were only about half as mad when recounting the episode as they were while it happened. Presumably the pumping efficiency would be even more greatly reduced during an actual angry encounter.”
The study is the first one to show that anger can cause a direct change in the heart’s ability to function. And while anger is not solely responsible for heart disease—diet, exercise, and genetics also play a role—researchers believe that anger may be a major contributor.
Doctors have long known that anger works havoc on the human body. It can cause a rise in blood pressure, arterial changes, respiratory trouble, liver upsets, changes in the secretion of gall, and damage to the pancreas. Anger is also thought to aggravate such disorders as asthma, eye afflictions, skin diseases, hives, and ulcers, as well as dental and digestive troubles.
Thus, apart from the spiritual and social benefits, there are physical benefits from heeding the Bible’s counsel to “let anger alone and leave rage” and not to “hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended [or, “angry,” King James Version].” How sensible it is to cultivate the “discernment” that makes one “slow to anger.” Indeed, “a calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.”—Psalm 37:8; Ecclesiastes 7:9; Proverbs 14:29, 30.
g91 7/22 p. 14 The High Price of Anger
What about those who simmer with repressed rage instead of finding positive ways to deal with their problems? Dr. Mara Julius, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, surveyed a group of women over an 18-year period. She found that those who showed obvious signs of chronic, suppressed hostility had a death rate some three times higher than those who did not harbor such anger. She concludes: “For many women, constant suppressed anger seems to be a stronger risk factor for early mortality than smoking.”
Thousands of years before any such scientific studies, the Bible warned against anger. “Let the sun not set with you in a provoked state,” says one verse. (Ephesians 4:26) “Let anger alone and leave rage,” counsels another. (Psalm 37:8) Even more remarkably, the Bible drew a connection between our emotional state and our physical health when it asserted: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.”—Proverbs 14:30.
w90 9/15 p. 21 Control Your Spirit!
Anger can raise blood pressure, cause respiratory problems, and have other bad effects. Rage can upset thinking processes, and the aftermath is often a period of extreme mental depression. Adverse, too, are the effects of anger on a person’s spiritual health. No wonder the Bible says: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.” (Proverbs 14:30)
w89 4/15 p. 28 Insight on the News
A Real Killer
Experts have believed for many years that people who were aggressive and always in a hurry were prime targets of heart attacks. Now, however, new evidence suggests that anger, not impatience, may be the real killer. Dr. Redford Williams, Jr., of Duke University Medical Center, explained that being in a hurry or being a workaholic is “not necessarily bad for your heart,” reports the New York Post. Williams pointed out that “what is bad is if you have high levels of hostility and anger and you don’t bother to hide it when dealing with other people.” Those at high risk of heart attack were said to be “quick to reach the boiling point” and mistrustful of others’ motives. “They get angry often and openly express their displeasure, rather than holding it in,” notes the Post.
The ill effects of anger have long been known to students of the Bible. Centuries ago wise King Solomon wrote: “He that is quick to anger will commit foolishness” and “an enraged man stirs up contention.” However, a person who is “slow to anger quiets down quarreling.” (Proverbs 14:17; 15:18) Those who wisely follow this Biblical advice may lower the risk of heart disease. God’s Word is true: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.”—Proverbs 14:30.
w87 7/1 p. 4 Anger—What Is It?
Hence, venting our anger does not help us socially. But is it good for us physically? A number of physicians have concluded that it is not. Studies have shown that persons who are prone to express anger have the highest levels of blood pressure. Some reported that anger produced cardiac sensations, headaches, nosebleed, dizziness, or inability to vocalize. On the other hand, the Giver of our life explains: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.” (Proverbs 14:30)
PROVERBS 14:31)
“The one who defrauds the lowly one insults his Maker, But whoever shows compassion to the poor glorifies Him.”
w05 9/15 pp. 14-15 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
Fear of God Helps Us to Be Impartial
“He that is defrauding the lowly one has reproached his Maker,” says Solomon, “but the one showing favor to the poor one is glorifying Him.” (Proverbs 14:31) A God-fearing man realizes that all humans have the same Maker, Jehovah God. Therefore, the lowly one is a fellow human, and how he is treated reflects on the Creator of mankind. To glorify God, we must deal fairly and impartially with others. The Christian of little means should receive spiritual attention without partiality. We must reach the poor and the rich alike with the good news of God’s Kingdom.
PROVERBS 14:32)
“The wicked one will be brought down by his own evil, But the righteous one will find refuge in his integrity.”
w05 9/15 p. 15 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
Referring to another benefit of godly fear, the wise king says: “Because of his badness the wicked will be pushed down, but the righteous will be finding refuge in his integrity.” (Proverbs 14:32) How is the wicked one pushed down? It has been suggested that this means that he lacks any possibility of recovery when he experiences a calamity. On the other hand, when adversity strikes, the God-fearing man takes refuge in his integrity to God. Having implicit trust in Jehovah even to death, he displays the same determination as did Job, who said: “Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!”—Job 27:5.
PROVERBS 14:33)
“Wisdom rests quietly in the heart of an understanding person, But among the stupid it must make itself known.”
w05 9/15 p. 15 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
Maintaining integrity calls for godly fear and wisdom. And where can wisdom be found? “In the heart of the understanding one there rests wisdom,” answers Proverbs 14:33, “and in the midst of stupid ones it becomes known.” Yes, wisdom can be found in the heart of a man with understanding. In what way, though, does it become known in the midst of fools? According to one reference work, “the fool, anxious to appear wise, blurts out what he thinks is wisdom but in the process turns it to folly.”
PROVERBS 14:34)
“Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is disgraceful to a people.”
w05 9/15 p. 15 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
“Exalts a Nation”
Shifting our attention from how an individual is affected by the fear of God to how it affects an entire nation, the king of Israel says: “Righteousness is what exalts a nation, but sin is something disgraceful to national groups.” (Proverbs 14:34) How clearly this principle was demonstrated in the case of the nation of Israel! Adhering to God’s high standards resulted in Israel’s being exalted over the surrounding nations. However, repeated acts of disobedience led to the disgrace and eventual rejection of Israel by Jehovah. This principle applies to God’s people today. The Christian congregation is different from the world because it adheres to God’s righteous principles. To maintain that elevated position, though, we must individually live a chaste life. Practicing sin only brings disgrace to us personally as well as reproach on the congregation and on God.
w95 12/15 pp. 26-29 Righteousness Exalts a Nation
Righteousness Exalts a Nation
AFTER days of rain, what a pleasure it is to wake up and see the sun shining in a cloudless sky! The earth has been refreshed, and now the vegetation can grow luxuriantly. Jehovah God once used such a picture to illustrate the blessings of righteous rule. To King David he said: “When one ruling over mankind is righteous, ruling in the fear of God, then it is as the light of morning, when the sun shines forth, a morning without clouds. From brightness, from rain, there is grass out of the earth.”—2 Samuel 23:3, 4.
God’s words proved true during the righteous rule of David’s son, King Solomon. The Bible reports: “Judah and Israel continued to dwell in security, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree, from Dan to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon.”—1 Kings 4:25.
Ancient Israel was God’s chosen nation. He gave them his laws and told them that if they obeyed his voice, he would place them “high above all other nations of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 28:1) It was not Israel’s own righteousness but Jehovah’s righteousness that exalted them. The commandments that God gave them were far superior to the laws of the nations around them. As a people, they were just as imperfect as all those nations. Hence, to Jehovah’s superior Law and their strict adherence to it go the credit for their being lifted up above the nations. When they obeyed Jehovah’s laws, they enjoyed his favor and blessing. King Solomon experienced this during his reign. He could say: “Righteousness is what exalts a nation, but,” he warned, “sin is something disgraceful to national groups.”—Proverbs 14:34.
Sadly, through frequent acts of disobedience, the nation of Israel was brought to a low standing. They suffered national disgrace. This eventually led to their permanent rejection in favor of a new spiritual nation.—Matthew 21:43.
Spiritual Israel
At a meeting of the Christian governing body in Jerusalem, James, born a Jew, said under inspiration that God had “turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) The apostle Paul called this new Christian nation “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16) Respecting the purpose of their calling, Peter wrote: “You are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) As God’s chosen people, they were to shine as illuminators in the world. Jehovah’s righteousness would set them on high.—Philippians 2:15.
The selection of these spiritual Israelites can be compared to diamond mining. When rich diamond-bearing ore is brought to the surface, it may yield only 1 carat (.007 ounce [200 mg]) per 3 tons of earth. A method once used to separate the diamonds involved mixing the ore with water and flowing the mixture over tables of grease. Diamonds are water-repellent, and they stuck to the grease while the unwanted material was washed away. At this stage the diamonds were rough. However, when cut and polished, they reflected light in all directions.
Like water-repellent diamonds that are no part of the matter around them, Jehovah’s people have been separated from the world. (John 17:16) When first drawn to the light, they may have lacked luster. But Jehovah’s Word and spirit create within them a new personality, and they shine as illuminators in this world. It is because of Jehovah’s righteousness that they are set on high and reflect the glorious light of Kingdom truth in all directions, not because of their own righteousness.
Yet, from the latter part of the first century C.E., apostasy crept into the congregations and affected many. So-called Christians became integrated with the nations of the world and could not be distinguished from the world around them.
Today a faithful remnant of spiritual Israelites have been restored to Jehovah’s favor. They have separated themselves from the world and have cleansed themselves “of every defilement of flesh and spirit.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) Being clean and upright before Jehovah, they uphold his righteousness. This has elevated them to a high position of favor above the nations of the world. Through their zealous preaching of the good news of the Kingdom, a great international crowd has been drawn to Jehovah and has become part of his people.—Revelation 7:9, 10.
The World Can See the Difference
Worldly authorities at times praise the conduct of God’s servants. Some time ago, the chief security officer of the Pretoria Show Grounds, South Africa, commented on the behavior of Jehovah’s Witnesses, from all races, who use those facilities for their annual conventions. Among other things, he wrote: “Everyone was and is courteous, people speaking nicely to one another, the attitude displayed the past few days—it all testifies to the calibre of the members of your society, and that all live together like one happy family.”
Jehovah’s people can contribute to the righteousness of his nation not only at such large gatherings but also in their private lives. For example, the South Africa branch of the Watch Tower Society received a letter from a lady in Johannesburg, saying: “Last week I drove away with my purse on top of my car. It fell off in Jan Smuts Avenue and was picked up together with all its contents by a member of your congregation, Mr. R—, who phoned and returned it to me. . . . I very much appreciate this honesty which has become a rare commodity in present times and commend your congregation for setting down the principles which your members adhere to.”
Yes, by adhering to Jehovah’s righteous principles, his people are made to stand out as different from the world. Because these exhibit Jehovah’s righteousness, honesthearted ones are drawn to the Christian congregation. It is natural to be attracted to something clean and pure. For example, a stranger once came to a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Zurich, Switzerland, and said that he wanted to become a member of the congregation. He explained that his sister had been disfellowshipped for immorality and added that he wanted to join an organization that “does not tolerate bad conduct.” Even the New Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges that Jehovah’s Witnesses are known as “one of the best-behaved groups in the world.”
While righteousness uplifts, sin can bring disgrace upon one’s good name, especially if serious wrongdoing becomes known in the community. The Christian congregation at times has to bear the shame heaped upon it when individual members commit gross sin. Understandably, the faithful members of the congregation can defend the good name of the congregation by showing that the wrongdoer has been disciplined in a merciful way, that is, in harmony with Scriptural principles. If someone practices sin and will not repent, he will be excluded from the congregation—disfellowshipped.—1 Corinthians 5:9-13.
Why Some Are Disfellowshipped
Though some thousands are disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation each year, it is only a small percentage of the nearly five million Witnesses in the world. Why should such a drastic step be taken against anyone in the Christian congregation? The nature of the wrongdoing is one of the determining factors. But a more important factor is whether the wrongdoer is genuinely repentant over the serious wrong committed. If he truly has been cut to the heart, has turned to Jehovah in heartfelt prayer, begging forgiveness for the sin committed against Him, and has sought the help of the responsible men in the congregation, he may be assisted to regain God’s favor and remain a part of the congregation.—Proverbs 28:13; James 5:14, 15.
When a child who has a good, healthy relationship with his father does something that grieves the father, both should be quick to restore that precious relationship. Likewise, when we dedicate our lives to Jehovah, we enter into a most precious relationship with him. Hence, when we do something that grieves him, we should act quickly in seeking to restore that relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Happily, some who were in a disfellowshipped state have taken to heart the illustration of the prodigal son. Jehovah is there likened to a loving Father ready to receive a repentant sinner back if that one turns around and seeks God’s forgiveness. (Luke 15:11-24) Genuine, heartfelt repentance and a turning away from what is bad has been a way to return to Jehovah’s favor and the Christian congregation. Some repentant wrongdoers who have felt crushed under the burden of their guilt have been moved to repent and take steps to return to the loving environment of the Christian congregation. Thus they have come to appreciate Jehovah’s words at Isaiah 57:15.
To keep individuals from returning to Jehovah’s loving care, Satan would like to pretend that there is no forgiveness for sins that have been committed. But the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus is adequate to cover the sins of any who repent—yes, even “the whole world’s” inherited sinfulness. (1 John 2:1, 2) The one sin that is not covered by the ransom is sin against God’s holy spirit, which amounts to deliberate rebellion against the operation of God’s spirit, such as the gross sins of Judas Iscariot and many scribes and Pharisees.—Matthew 12:24, 31, 32; 23:13, 33; John 17:12.
Upholding Jehovah’s Righteousness
Since the remnant of spiritual Israelites were restored to Jehovah’s favor in 1919, they have become more and more elevated from the surrounding world. This is not because of any goodness on their part but because of their willing submission to Jehovah’s laws and standards. As a result, millions of Christ’s “other sheep” have been drawn into association with spiritual Israel as loyal companions. (John 10:16) These people bring glory and honor to Jehovah in a world that is far removed from God’s righteous standards. It is as the South African magazine Personality once observed: “Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to be bursting with good qualities and to be almost free from the bad.”
To maintain this elevated position in an ungodly world, each individual member of the Christian congregation needs to live a clean, upright life before Jehovah. In the Bible, Jehovah’s heavenly organization is pictured by clean things. It is seen as a beautiful woman arrayed with the sun and having the moon under her feet. (Revelation 12:1) The New Jerusalem is described as a holy city, beautiful in appearance. (Revelation 21:2) The faithful members of the bride of Christ are given “bright, clean, fine linen.” (Revelation 19:8) Those of the great crowd are seen “dressed in white robes.” (Revelation 7:9) People inclined toward righteousness are drawn to a clean organization. By contrast, Satan’s organization is unclean. His religious system is pictured as a harlot, and those outside the holy city are described as dirty, unclean.—Revelation 17:1; 22:15.
Everlasting life is promised to righteous ones. The congregated people upholding Jehovah’s righteousness have the prospect of surviving the end of this wicked system. “The one listening to me . . . will reside in security and be undisturbed from dread of calamity,” God promises at Proverbs 1:33.
How exhilarating it will be when the Greater Solomon, Christ Jesus, rules over that new world in righteousness, in the fear of Jehovah! (2 Peter 3:13) It will be as the light of morning when the sun shines forth, a morning without clouds. All earth’s inhabitants will dwell in security, each one sitting under his own vine and fig tree, as it were. Righteous human society will beautify the earth and occupy its rightful place in the universe to the everlasting praise of our God, Jehovah.—Micah 4:3, 4; see also Isaiah 65:17-19, 25.
[Picture Credit Line on page 26]
Garo Nalbandian
PROVERBS 14:35)
“The king finds pleasure in a servant who acts with insight, But his fury is against the one who acts shamefully.”
w05 9/15 p. 15 “The Fear of Jehovah—That Is Wisdom”
Expressing what brings delight to a king, Solomon says: “The pleasure of a king is in the servant who is acting with insight, but his fury comes to be toward one acting shamefully.” (Proverbs 14:35) And Proverbs 16:13 states: “The lips of righteousness are a pleasure to a grand king; and the speaker of upright things he loves.” Yes, our Leader and King, Jesus Christ, is well-pleased when we act righteously and with insight and use our lips in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making activity. By all means, then, let us keep busy in that work as we enjoy the blessings that come from fearing the true God.
PROVERBS 15:1)
“A mild answer turns away rage, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”
w09 7/15 p. 25 Ninety Years Ago I Began to ‘Remember My Grand Creator’
One day, I visited a solicitor’s office in a small town. The man became angry, pulled a pistol from a drawer, and ordered me to leave. I prayed silently and remembered the Bible counsel: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage.” (Prov. 15:1) So I said, “I came here as a friend with a message of good news, and I thank you for your restraint.” The man’s finger on the trigger of his gun relaxed, and I cautiously backed out of his office.
w08 3/15 p. 22 par. 9 “Who Is Wise and Understanding Among You?”
Moreover, people around us may encourage an opposite viewpoint, saying that a person has to “fight fire with fire.” However, is this really wise? If a small fire broke out in your house, would you douse it with oil or with cool water? Pouring oil on the fire would make matters worse, whereas dousing it with cool water would likely bring the desired result. Likewise, the Bible counsels us: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.” (Prov. 15:1, 18) The next time irritations arise, either inside or outside the congregation, can we see how we can show true wisdom by reacting in a mild way?—2 Tim. 2:24.
w06 7/1 pp. 13-14 “Anyone Regarding Reproof Is Shrewd”
What “Turns Away Rage”?
Describing how spoken words affect anger or rage, King Solomon of ancient Israel states: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.” (Proverbs 15:1) “Anger” is a term used to describe a strong emotion or reaction of displeasure. “Rage” is defined as “a feeling of extremely strong anger that is very difficult to control.” How can this proverb help us to deal with another person’s anger as well as manage our own?
Harsh words that cause pain can make an unpleasant situation worse. On the other hand, a mild reply often has a calming effect. Yet, giving a mild answer to an angry person is not always easy. It helps, though, if we try to understand what has made him angry. “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger,” says the Bible, “and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11) Could it be that an individual is angry because he is insecure or wants attention? The real reason may have nothing to do with what we might have said or done. When we encounter an angry response in the Christian ministry, does this not often happen because the householder is misinformed about our beliefs or blinded by some misconception? Should we take it personally and reply harshly? Even when the cause of someone’s anger is not readily discernible, responding with words causing pain would indicate a lack of self-discipline on our part. Such a response should be avoided.
The advice to give a mild reply is also priceless when it comes to managing our own anger. We can apply such counsel by learning to express our emotions in ways that are not offensive to the hearer. When dealing with family members, instead of speaking harshly or engaging in derogatory name-calling, we can endeavor to express our feelings calmly. Verbal aggression generally provokes retaliation. Gently telling a person our feelings is less accusatory and may move him to make amends.
g01 11/22 p. 23 How Do I Deal With Angry People?
“He was raging mad. I guess because he saw that I was little, he wanted to beat me up. As I was backing away, I said: ‘Hold on for a second! Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Why do you want to beat me up? I haven’t done anything to you. I don’t even know what you are mad about. Can we talk about it?’”—16-year-old David.
g01 11/22 pp. 23-24 How Do I Deal With Angry People?
The Bible gives this wise advice: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.” (Proverbs 15:1) Yes, responding to anger with “a word causing pain” only aggravates the situation. However, a mild reply can often calm things down and defuse a tense situation.
Recall David, mentioned at the outset. He was able to talk the bully into explaining why he was angry. It turned out that someone had stolen the bully’s lunch, and he was simply taking out his frustration on the first person who came his way. “Beating me up is not going to replace your lunch,” David reasoned. He then suggested that they both go over to the cafeteria. “Since I knew the clerk there,” recalls David, “I was able to replace his lunch. He shook my hand, and he was friendly to me after that.” Do you see how powerful mild words can be? As a proverb puts it, “a mild tongue itself can break a bone.”—Proverbs 25:15.
ba p. 26 A Practical Book for Modern Living
“An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.” (Proverbs 15:1) It takes self-control to respond with mildness, but such a course often smooths out problems and promotes peaceful relations.
w89 10/15 p. 29 Insight on the News
Bible students have long recognized that violence begets violence and that, “an answer, when mild, turns away rage.” (Proverbs 15:1) The Bible advises us to flee, right at the outset, when we are faced with a potentially explosive confrontation. Wise King Solomon wrote: “The beginning of contention is as one letting out waters; so before the quarrel has burst forth, take your leave.”—Proverbs 17:14.
w87 7/1 p. 6 Managing Anger—Yours and Others’
In dealing with a situation that causes us to feel angry, it helps to know how to talk about our anger without attacking the other person. There is a marked distinction between verbal aggression (“You idiot!” or, “I’ll punch you on the nose!”) and reporting one’s anger (“I am very upset” or, “I feel hurt”). Verbal aggression usually fails because it provokes the other person to retaliate, whereas reporting how you feel is less of an attack, and the other person may be moved to make amends. As the Bible says: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up. An enraged man stirs up contention, but one that is slow to anger quiets down quarreling.”—Proverbs 15:1,
PROVERBS 15:2)
“The tongue of the wise makes good use of knowledge, But the mouth of the stupid blurts out foolishness.”
w06 7/1 p. 14 “Anyone Regarding Reproof Is Shrewd”
“The Tongue of Wise Ones Does Good”
Self-discipline affects our manner of speech as well as what we say. “The tongue of wise ones does good with knowledge,” says Solomon, “but the mouth of the stupid ones bubbles forth with foolishness.” (Proverbs 15:2) When we develop a desire to help others and we talk to them about God’s purpose and his wonderful provisions, are we not ‘doing good with knowledge’? A stupid person fails to do this because he lacks knowledge.
PROVERBS 15:3)
“The eyes of Jehovah are everywhere, Watching both the bad and the good.”
w14 4/15 pp. 27-28 pars. 2-3 Do You Appreciate Jehovah’s Watchful Care?
2 However, should the widespread use of surveillance cameras in any way remind us of our loving Father, Jehovah? The Bible does say that his eyes “are everywhere.” (Prov. 15:3) But does this mean that he is constantly scrutinizing what we are doing? Does God watch over us merely to enforce his laws, with punishment in mind? (Jer. 16:17; Heb. 4:13) Not at all! Jehovah observes us primarily because he loves each one of us and is interested in our welfare.—1 Pet. 3:12.
3 What will help us to appreciate that God watches over us because he loves us? Let us consider how he shows this. He does so (1) by warning us when we show bad inclinations, (2) by correcting us when we take wrong steps, (3) by guiding us through principles found in his Word, (4) by helping us when we face various trials, and (5) by rewarding us when he notices the good in us.
w06 7/1 p. 14 “Anyone Regarding Reproof Is Shrewd”
Before giving further guidance on the use of the tongue, Solomon presents a thought-provoking contrast. “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones.” (Proverbs 15:3) We can rejoice in this because we are assured: “As regards Jehovah, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) God knows if we are doing what is good. He also takes note of those practicing what is bad and holds them accountable.
g03 3/22 p. 19 Akan Proverbs—A Mirror on Social Norms
Another Akan proverb states: “If you run away from God, you are still under him.” Thus, it is an exercise in self-delusion for anyone to attempt to ignore God. Long ago, the Bible made a similar point, saying that God’s eyes “are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones.” (Proverbs 15:3) We are all accountable to the Almighty.
w01 6/15 p. 22 par. 18 Remain Steadfast as Seeing the Invisible One!
18 Proverbs 15:3 says: “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones.” Yes, God keeps watch upon bad people and deals with them according to their conduct. However, if we are among “the good ones,” we can be sure that Jehovah takes note of our acts of faithfulness. How faith-strengthening it is to know that ‘our labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord’ and that the one who is invisible will not ‘forget our work and the love we have shown for his name’!—1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 6:10.
tp chap. 10 p. 111 par. 8 Are You Willing to Face the Truth in Your Life?
Proverbs 15:3 tells us: “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones.” Knowing that Jehovah God is watching should restrain us from doing wrong. At the same time we can find encouragement in the assurance that he looks favorably ‘upon the good ones.’
PROVERBS 15:4)
“A calm tongue is a tree of life, But twisted speech causes despair.”
it-2 p. 250 Life
Similarly, “the calmness of the tongue is a tree of life, but distortion in it means a breaking down in the spirit.” (Pr 15:4) The calm speech of the wise person helps and refreshes the spirit of those hearing him, nourishing good qualities in them, helping them along the way of life, but distortion in the tongue is like bad fruit; it brings trouble and discouragement, damaging those hearing it.
lv chap. 12 p. 134 Speak What “Is Good for Building Up”
The Hebrew word rendered “twisted” at Proverbs 15:4 can also be rendered “crooked; perverse.”
lv chap. 12 p. 134 Speak What “Is Good for Building Up”
WHY WE NEED TO GUARD OUR SPEECH
4 One important reason to guard our speech is that words have power. Proverbs 15:4 says: “A calm tongue is a tree of life, but twisted speech causes despair.” Even as water revives a thirsty tree, so the calm speech of a soothing tongue can refresh the spirit of those hearing it. In contrast, the twisted words of a perverse tongue can crush the spirit of others. Indeed, the words we speak have the power to injure or to heal.—Proverbs 18:21.
w06 7/1 p. 14 “Anyone Regarding Reproof Is Shrewd”
Solomon further stresses the value of a gentle tongue, saying: “The calmness of the tongue is a tree of life, but distortion in it means a breaking down in the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4) The expression “tree of life” suggests healing and nourishing properties. (Revelation 22:2) A wise person’s calm speech refreshes the spirit of those hearing it. It appeals to their good qualities. On the contrary, a deceitful or perverse tongue causes the hearers’ spirit to be crushed.
PROVERBS 15:5)
“A fool disrespects his father’s discipline, But a shrewd person accepts correction.”
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Receiving Discipline and “Scattering Knowledge”
“Anyone foolish disrespects the discipline of his father,” continues the wise king, “but anyone regarding reproof is shrewd.” (Proverbs 15:5) How could anyone ‘regard reproof’ unless it is first given? Does this scripture not imply that corrective discipline must be administered when needed? In a family, it is the responsibility of the parents—particularly the father—to provide discipline, and it is the child’s duty to accept it. (Ephesians 6:1-3) However, all of Jehovah’s servants receive discipline in one way or another. “Whom Jehovah loves he disciplines,” says Hebrews 12:6, “in fact, he scourges every one whom he receives as a son.” Our response to discipline reveals whether we are wise or foolish.
fy chap. 6 pp. 71-72 par. 16 Help Your Teenager to Thrive
16 The Bible says: “Anyone foolish disrespects the discipline of his father, but anyone regarding reproof is shrewd.” (Proverbs 15:5) We learn much from this scripture. It implies that discipline will be given. A teenager cannot ‘regard reproof’ if it is not given. Jehovah gives the responsibility for administering discipline to the parents, particularly the father. However, the responsibility for listening to that discipline belongs to the teenager. He will learn more and make fewer mistakes if he heeds the wise discipline of his father and mother. (Proverbs 1:8) The Bible says: “The one neglecting discipline comes to poverty and dishonor, but the one keeping a reproof is the one that is glorified.”—Proverbs 13:18.
PROVERBS 15:7)
“The lips of the wise spread knowledge, But not so the heart of the stupid one.”
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Presenting yet another contrast, Solomon says: “The lips of the wise ones keep scattering knowledge about, but the heart of the stupid ones is not like that.” (Proverbs 15:7) Dispensing knowledge is like scattering seed. In ancient times, a farmer did not sow all his seed in one spot. Rather, he scattered a few seeds at a time over the entire field. So it is with dispensing knowledge. For instance, when we meet someone in the ministry, it would not be wise to pour out all we know about the Bible at one time. Instead, the wise individual is disciplined in speech. He ‘scatters’ knowledge as he gradually highlights just one Bible truth at a time and builds on it, taking into consideration the response of his hearer. Our Exemplar, Jesus Christ, did this when talking to a Samaritan woman.—John 4:7-26.
Imparting knowledge involves saying something instructive and beneficial. It takes thought to speak words that inform and encourage. Hence, “the heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer.” (Proverbs 15:28) How vital it is that our words be like a gentle rain that soaks the ground and is beneficial, not like an unwelcome torrent that sweeps away everything in its path!
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15:7. We should not pour out everything we know to a person all at once, just as a farmer does not pour out all his seeds in one location. The wise one scatters his knowledge a little at a time as the need may be.
PROVERBS 15:8)
“The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to Jehovah, But the prayer of the upright is a pleasure to Him.”
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‘Holy in Conduct’
Scattering knowledge about Jehovah and his purpose and offering him “the fruit of lips” as “a sacrifice of praise” is certainly the course of wisdom. (Hebrews 13:15) However, for such a sacrifice to be acceptable to Jehovah, we must be ‘holy in all our conduct.’ (1 Peter 1:14-16) Using two contrasting proverbs, Solomon forcefully brings this vital truth to our attention. He says: “The sacrifice of the wicked ones is something detestable to Jehovah, but the prayer of the upright ones is a pleasure to him. The way of the wicked one is something detestable to Jehovah, but the one pursuing righteousness he loves.”—Proverbs 15:8, 9.
PROVERBS 15:9)
“Jehovah detests the way of the wicked one, But he loves the one who pursues righteousness.”
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‘Holy in Conduct’
Scattering knowledge about Jehovah and his purpose and offering him “the fruit of lips” as “a sacrifice of praise” is certainly the course of wisdom. (Hebrews 13:15) However, for such a sacrifice to be acceptable to Jehovah, we must be ‘holy in all our conduct.’ (1 Peter 1:14-16) Using two contrasting proverbs, Solomon forcefully brings this vital truth to our attention. He says: “The sacrifice of the wicked ones is something detestable to Jehovah, but the prayer of the upright ones is a pleasure to him. The way of the wicked one is something detestable to Jehovah, but the one pursuing righteousness he loves.”—Proverbs 15:8, 9.
PROVERBS 15:10)
“Discipline seems bad to one forsaking the way, But whoever hates reproof will die.”
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How do those leaving the road to life view reproof, and what awaits them? (Matthew 7:13, 14) “Discipline is bad to the one leaving the path; anyone hating reproof will die.” (Proverbs 15:10) Instead of accepting corrective counsel from responsible ones in the Christian congregation and genuinely repenting, some who are following a wrong course choose to leave the path of righteousness. How foolish! According to An American Translation, this proverb says: “Stern discipline awaits the man who leaves the right way; he who hates admonition will die.”
PROVERBS 15:11)
“The Grave and the place of destruction are in full view of Jehovah. How much more so the hearts of men!”
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In Hebrew the word ʼavad•dohnʹ means “destruction” and may also refer to “the place of destruction.” It appears in the original Hebrew text a total of five times, and in four of the occurrences it is used to parallel “the burial place,” “Sheol,” and “death.” (Ps 88:11; Job 26:6; 28:22; Pr 15:11) The word ʼavad•dohnʹ in these texts evidently refers to the destructive processes that ensue with human death, and these scriptures indicate that decay or destruction takes place in Sheol, the common grave of mankind.
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Will all persons who were destroyed by God in times past be dead forever?
The Bible indicates that not all destruction is eternal. This is demonstrated by the fact that the Hebrew word ʼavad•dohnʹ (destruction) is used twice to parallel “Sheol.” (Job 26:6; Pr 15:11) The prophet Zephaniah spoke of the destruction of Assyria, whereas Ezekiel said that the Assyrians would go down to Sheol. (Zep 2:13; Eze 32:21, 22) When speaking of the destruction of the rebels Dathan and Abiram, Moses wrote that they went down “alive into Sheol.” (Nu 16:31, 33) Since Sheol in the Bible denotes the common grave of mankind from which there will be a resurrection, it is evident that not all destruction—not even all destruction at the hand of God—is necessarily eternal.
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What if someone puts on an appearance of accepting reproof while really hating it? This too is unwise. “Sheol and the place of destruction are in front of Jehovah,” says Israel’s king. “How much more so the hearts of the sons of mankind!” (Proverbs 15:11) Nothing could be figuratively farther away from the living God than Sheol, the place of the dead. Still, it is in front of him. He knows the identity and personality of all who are there and is able to resurrect them. (Psalm 139:8; John 5:28, 29) How easy it is for Jehovah to know what is in the hearts of men! “All things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Hebrews 4:13) Pretense can fool humans but not God.
PROVERBS 15:12)
“The scoffer does not love the one correcting him. He will not consult the wise.”
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A person rejecting discipline not only hates reproof but also has contempt for those giving it. “The ridiculer does not love the one reproving him,” says Solomon. Bringing in a parallel thought to enlarge upon the idea, he adds: “To the wise ones he will not go.” (Proverbs 15:12) What little hope there is that such a person will make his path straight!
PROVERBS 15:13)
“A joyful heart makes for a cheerful countenance, But heartache crushes the spirit.”
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Positive in Outlook
Reference to the word “heart” connects the next three proverbs of Solomon. Describing the effect of our emotions on our countenance, the wise king says: “A joyful heart has a good effect on the countenance, but because of the pain of the heart there is a stricken spirit.”—Proverbs 15:13.
What can cause pain of heart? “Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down [with sadness],” states the Bible. (Proverbs 12:25) How can we prevent negative aspects of life from crushing our spirit? Rather than constantly dwelling on circumstances over which we may have very little control, we can reflect on the rich spiritual blessings that Jehovah has bestowed upon us now and on what he will do for us in the future. This will bring us closer to him. Yes, drawing near to “the happy God” is bound to bring joy to our sad heart.—1 Timothy 1:11.
Moreover, the message of the Bible is an excellent source of comfort and delight. The psalmist pronounced happy the man whose “delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2) Even when we experience pain of heart, reading the Bible and pondering over what it says will encourage us. There is also our God-given ministry. We are assured that “those sowing seed with tears will reap even with a joyful cry.”—Psalm 126:5.
PROVERBS 15:14)
“The understanding heart seeks knowledge, But the mouth of the stupid feeds on foolishness.”
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“The understanding heart is one that searches for knowledge,” says Solomon, “but the mouth of stupid people is one that aspires to foolishness.” (Proverbs 15:14) This proverb brings to our attention a striking contrast between the counsel of a wise person and that of a foolish one. Before giving advice, a person with an understanding heart searches for knowledge. He listens well and gets a sufficient grasp of the facts. He searches the Scriptures to ascertain the laws and principles that apply to the situation. His counsel is solidly based on God’s Word. However, a foolish person does not bother to find out the facts of the situation and blurts out what comes to his mind. When we seek advice, then, it is wise to go to knowledgeable, mature ones rather than to those who may be inclined to tell us what we want to hear. How good it is to have “gifts in men” in the Christian congregation, who ‘search for knowledge’ before giving counsel!—Ephesians 4:8.
PROVERBS 15:15)
“All the days of the afflicted one are bad, But the one with a cheerful heart has a continual feast.”
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Since partaking of meals in moderation can be most delightful, the condition of one who is joyful at heart is comparable to a continuous feast. (Pr 15:15)
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Do You Have “a Feast Constantly”?
“All the days of the afflicted one are bad; but the one that is good at heart has a feast constantly.”—Proverbs 15:15.
WHAT do those words mean? They refer to one’s mental and emotional state. “The afflicted one” dwells on the negative—an outlook that makes his days “bad,” or dismal. By contrast, the one who “is good at heart” tries to focus on the positive—an attitude that fosters inner joy, giving him “a feast constantly.”
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The next proverb states an excellent benefit of having a positive outlook. The king of Israel says: “All the days of the afflicted one are bad; but the one that is good at heart has a feast constantly.” (Proverbs 15:15) Life has its blessings and calamities, joys and tears. If we dwell only on the negative, sorrow will take over our thoughts, and all our days will be gloomy. However, if we allow personal blessings and our God-given hope to dominate our thinking, the affliction-causing aspects of life will fade into the background and we will experience inner joy. A positive outlook makes it possible for us to enjoy “a feast constantly.”
w05 8/1 p. 6 The Bible Can Help You Find Joy
“All the days of the afflicted one are bad; but the one that is good at heart has a feast constantly.” (Proverbs 15:15) All of us have a choice as to how we view ourselves and our circumstances. We can be like the one who sees everything negatively and feels afflicted, or we can choose to think positively, feel “good at heart,” and be joyful as if we were at a feast. Says Simone: “I try to remain as positive as possible. I keep busy in personal study and in the ministry, and I persevere in prayer. I also try to surround myself with positive people, and I try to be there for others.” Such a heart attitude leads to true joy, even as the Bible urges us: “Rejoice in Jehovah and be joyful, you righteous ones; and cry out joyfully, all you who are upright in heart.”—Psalm 32:11.
PROVERBS 15:16)
“Better is a little in the fear of Jehovah Than great wealth along with anxiety.”
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When Less Is Better
“Better is a little in the fear of Jehovah than an abundant supply and confusion along with it,” says King Solomon of ancient Israel. (Proverbs 15:16) To ignore the Creator and to make the pursuit of material possessions one’s chief goal in life is foolish. Such a life is full of tiresome striving and a great deal of anxiety. What a shame it would be to realize in old age that one’s whole life course has been empty and meaningless! Accumulating many possessions along with “confusion” is certainly not wise. How much better it is to learn the secret of contentment and live by it! Genuine contentment is found in the fear of Jehovah—in our relationship with him—not in material possessions.—1 Timothy 6:6-8.
PROVERBS 15:17)
“Better is a dish of vegetables where there is love Than a fattened bull where there is hatred.”
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Also, a loving atmosphere contributes to the enjoyment of a meal. Says the proverb: “Better is a dish of vegetables where there is love than a manger-fed bull and hatred along with it.”—Pr 15:17.
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Emphasizing that a good relationship with others is of greater value than material plenty, Solomon says: “Better is a dish of vegetables where there is love than a manger-fed bull and hatred along with it.” (Proverbs 15:17) Yes, a loving atmosphere in a household is more desirable than an abundance of rich foods. In a single-parent home, resources may be very limited. In some lands simple food may be all that can be provided. However, the family thrives where there is love and affection.
PROVERBS 15:18)
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But one who is slow to anger calms a quarrel.”
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Even in families where the atmosphere is generally loving, difficult situations may arise. One member of the family may say or do something that offends another. How should the offended one respond? Proverbs 15:18 states: “An enraged man stirs up contention, but one that is slow to anger quiets down quarreling.” A mild response, not an angry one, promotes peace and quiet. The advice of this proverb applies with equal force in other areas of life, including congregational activities and the public ministry.
PROVERBS 15:19)
“The way of the lazy one is like a hedge of thorns, But the path of the upright is like a level highway.”
it-1 p. 367 Brier
Using the term cheʹdheq, Proverbs 15:19 likens the path of the lazy man to a brier hedge, apparently in the sense of his envisioning or imagining difficulties and thorny problems in every possible undertaking, and on that basis excusing himself from moving ahead.
it-2 p. 227 Laziness
The Lazy Man’s Thinking. A description of the lazy man is given in the book of Proverbs. First of all, he throws up barriers in his own mind to justify himself in not starting on a project. “The way of the lazy one is like a brier hedge.” (Pr 15:19) He views his task as a road ahead filled with briers, very difficult to traverse.
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When ‘a Way Is Cast Up’
The next proverb highlights the contrast between someone who has paid no heed to wisdom and those who have. “The way of the lazy one is like a brier hedge,” says the wise king, “but the path of the upright ones is a way cast up.”—Proverbs 15:19.
A brier hedge is a thorny, prickly barrier. A lazy person imagines all sorts of obstacles and uses them as an excuse to justify his failure to start an undertaking. On the other hand, the upright ones do not fret about barriers that might hinder them. They are diligent in their work and give attention to the task at hand. Thus they avoid many thorny problems that they might encounter if they were negligent. Their way is “cast up,” that is, progressive. They move ahead in their work and rejoice in its progress.
Take, for example, the matter of gaining accurate knowledge of God’s Word and progressing to maturity. Effort is required. A person can easily use a limited education, a lack of good reading ability, or a poor memory as an excuse for not applying himself to diligent personal study of the Bible. How much better it is not to imagine such things as roadblocks in the way of knowledge! Even with limited abilities, we can put forth the effort to improve our reading skills and our comprehension of what we read, perhaps making use of a dictionary when necessary. A positive attitude helps us to gain knowledge and make spiritual progress.
PROVERBS 15:20)
“A wise son makes his father rejoice, But a stupid man despises his mother.”
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When ‘a Father Rejoices’
“A wise son is the one that makes a father rejoice,” says the king of Israel, “but a stupid man is despising his mother.” (Proverbs 15:20) Do not parents rejoice when their children act wisely? Granted, it takes parental training and discipline to obtain such good results. (Proverbs 22:6) But what a source of joy a wise son is to his parents! The foolish one, however, causes them endless grief.
PROVERBS 15:21)
“Foolishness is a joy to one lacking good sense, But the man of discernment walks straight ahead.”
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Using the term “rejoicing” in another setting, the wise king says: “Foolishness is a rejoicing to one who is in want of heart, but the man of discernment is one who goes straight ahead.” (Proverbs 15:21) Those in want of heart rejoice in foolish laughter and merriment that give no genuine satisfaction or happiness. However, the man of discernment sees the folly of becoming a ‘lover of pleasures rather than a lover of God.’ (2 Timothy 3:1, 4) Adhering to godly principles helps him remain upright and keep his path straight.
w97 3/15 pp. 14-15 pars. 12-14 Incline Your Heart to Discernment
12 Discernment helps us to maintain a proper course in all our affairs. This is indicated at Proverbs 15:21, which says: “Foolishness is a rejoicing to one who is in want of heart, but the man of discernment is one who goes straight ahead.” How are we to understand this proverb? A course of foolishness, or folly, is a cause of joy to senseless men, women, and young people. They are “in want of heart,” lacking good motive, and are so unwise that they rejoice in foolishness.
13 Israel’s discerning King Solomon learned that frivolity means very little. He admitted: “I said, even I, in my heart: ‘Do come now, let me try you out with rejoicing. Also, see good.’ And, look! that too was vanity. I said to laughter: ‘Insanity!’ and to rejoicing: ‘What is this doing?’” (Ecclesiastes 2:1, 2) As a man of discernment, Solomon found that mirth and laughter alone are not satisfying, for they do not produce real and lasting happiness. Laughter may help us to forget our problems temporarily, but afterward they may loom up to an even greater degree. Solomon could rightly speak of laughter as “insanity.” Why? Because thoughtless laughter beclouds sound judgment. It may cause us to take very serious matters lightly. The kind of rejoicing associated with the words and actions of a court jester cannot be pointed to as producing something worthwhile. Discerning the import of Solomon’s experiment with laughter and mirth helps us to avoid being “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.”—2 Timothy 3:1, 4.
14 How is it that the man of discernment goes “straight ahead”? Spiritual discernment and the application of godly principles lead people in an upright, straightforward course. Byington’s translation bluntly says: “Foolishness is bliss to a brainless man, but an intelligent man will go straight.” “The man of discernment” makes straight paths for his feet and is able to distinguish between right and wrong because of applying God’s Word in life.—Hebrews 5:14; 12:12, 13.
PROVERBS 15:22)
“Plans fail when there is no consultation, But there is accomplishment through many advisers.”
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When “There Is Accomplishment”
Living by divine principles brings benefits in other aspects of our life. Proverbs 15:22 states: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk, but in the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.”
Confidential talk means private but frank communication between individuals. The Hebrew word translated “confidential talk” is rendered “intimate group” at Psalm 89:7. This indicates intimacy in communication. More than mere superficial conversation, confidential talk is an exchange of genuine thoughts and feelings. When husbands and wives as well as parents and children freely communicate with one another in this way, there is peace and unity among them. But a lack of confidential talk leads to frustrations and problems in the family.
When we make important decisions, it is prudent to heed the advice: “In the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.” For example, when we are choosing medical treatment, is it not wise to get a second or third opinion, particularly if serious issues are involved?
The value of having many counselors cannot be overemphasized in caring for spiritual matters. When elders consult with one another and utilize their collective wisdom, “there is accomplishment.” Moreover, newly appointed overseers should not hesitate to seek advice from older and more experienced elders, especially if the matter to be cared for is a difficult one.
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“Confidential Talk”—A Must
16 Little is accomplished—and damage can result—when a husband or a wife resorts to what has been called the silent treatment. This is not always a matter of punishing one’s partner, as it may result from frustration or discouragement. Yet, refusing to talk to each other only heightens tension and does little to solve the problem at hand. As one wife put it, “once we do start talking again, we never discuss the problem.”
17 When marital tension persists, there is no shortcut. Proverbs 15:22 states: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk, but in the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.” You need to sit down with your spouse and discuss the matter. By all means, listen to your mate with an open mind and heart. If it seems impossible to do so, why not take advantage of the provision of elders in the Christian congregation? They have knowledge of the Scriptures and are experienced in applying Bible principles. Such men are “like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm.”—Isaiah 32:2.
g97 4/8 p. 24 Can a Marriage Be Saved After Infidelity?
Proverbs 15:22 says: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk.” The Hebrew word translated “confidential talk” implies intimacy and is rendered “intimate group” at Psalm 89:7. It would therefore involve, not mere surface dialogue, but honest and fervent communication in which both parties reveal their deepest feelings.—Proverbs 13:10.
fy chap. 6 p. 65 par. 4 Help Your Teenager to Thrive
4 The Bible says: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk.” (Proverbs 15:22) If confidential talk was necessary when the children were younger, it is especially vital during the teen years—when youngsters likely spend less time at home and more time with school friends or other companions. If there is no confidential talk—no honest and open communication between children and parents—teenagers can become strangers in the house. So how can the lines of communication be kept open?
w91 10/15 pp. 19-20 Be Clothed With Mildness!
Value of a Multitude of Counselors
16 Prayer and study will help elders to answer questions and handle difficult problems, but it should be remembered that “in the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.” (Proverbs 15:22) Consulting with other elders results in a valuable pooling of wisdom. (Proverbs 13:20) Not all elders have equal experience or Bible knowledge. Hence, mildness that belongs to wisdom should move a less-experienced elder to consult with elders having greater knowledge and more experience, especially when a serious matter needs to be handled.
17 When elders are chosen to handle a serious matter, they still may confidentially seek help. To assist him in judging the Israelites, Moses selected “capable men, fearing God, trustworthy men, hating unjust profit.” Though they were elders, they did not have as much knowledge and experience as Moses did. Hence, “a hard case they would bring to Moses, but every small case they themselves would handle as judges.” (Exodus 18:13-27) If necessary, then, elders handling a hard case today can properly seek the help of experienced overseers, though they make the final decision themselves.
18 The Jewish Mishnah says that in Israel those making up village courts varied in number according to the gravity of the case. There is true value in the multitude of counselors, though numbers alone do not guarantee rightness, for a majority can be wrong. (Exodus 23:2) The decisive factors ensuring that proper decisions will be made are the Scriptures and God’s spirit. Wisdom and mildness will move Christians to submit to these.
PROVERBS 15:23)
“A man rejoices in giving the right answer, And a word spoken at the right time—how good it is!”
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When There Is “Rejoicing in the Answer”
What good can result from speech that is uttered with insight? “A man has rejoicing in the answer of his mouth,” says the king of Israel, “and a word at its right time is O how good!” (Proverbs 15:23) Do we not rejoice when our answer or advice is followed and good results ensue? For our counsel to be effective, however, it must meet two requirements.
First, the advice should be solidly based on God’s Word, the Bible. (Psalm 119:105; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Then, it must be spoken at the right time. Even truthful words spoken at the wrong time can be damaging. For example, offering advice to someone before hearing him out is neither wise nor helpful. How vital that we “be swift about hearing, slow about speaking”!—James 1:19.
w87 5/15 p. 29 Fear Jehovah and You Will Be Happy
♦ 15:23—How can we ‘rejoice in the answer of our mouth’?
This can happen if our counsel is heeded and produces good results. But to assist someone, we must listen carefully, weigh the factors contributing to his problem, and base our counsel on the Bible. Such “a word at its right time is O how good!”
w86 8/15 p. 23 Guard Your Mouth!
“A Word at Its Right Time”
Speaking at the right time is yet another way to guard your mouth. Observed Solomon: “For everything there is an appointed time . . . a time to keep quiet and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7) When your mate seems exhausted from a long day of secular work or domestic chores, is that necessarily the time to burden him or her with minor problems or demands? Perhaps this is the “time to keep quiet.”
On the other hand, there is “a time to speak.” We read at Proverbs 15:23: “A word at its right time is O how good!” Do you know someone who is weighed down with problems and troubles? Might not a well-timed word of encouragement be just what that person needs?
PROVERBS 15:24)
“The path of life leads upward to one with insight, To turn him away from the Grave below.”
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“The Path of Life Is Upward”
Proverbs 15:24 states: “The path of life is upward to one acting with insight, in order to turn away from Sheol down below.” A person who acts with insight is on the path that leads away from Sheol, the common grave of mankind. He shuns such damaging practices as promiscuous sex, drug abuse, and drunkenness—and thus avoids premature death. His path leads to life.
PROVERBS 15:28)
“The heart of the righteous one meditates before answering, But the mouth of the wicked blurts out bad things.”
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By engaging in profitable meditation, one will not be inclined to give foolish answers. He will seriously think out these matters of importance, and as a result, the answers given will be from the heart and will not be something to regret later on.—Pr 15:28.
w14 3/15 p. 5 Reaching the Heart of Unbelieving Relatives
The Bible says that “the heart of the righteous one meditates before answering” and that “the heart of the wise one gives his mouth insight and adds persuasiveness to his speech.” How can we apply this counsel?—Prov. 15:28; 16:23.
A wife may wish to explain her faith to her husband. If she “meditates before answering,” she will carefully choose her words and not speak hastily. She should not give the impression of feeling self-righteous or superior. Her well-thought-out speech can be refreshing and promote peace. When is her husband relaxed and easily approachable? What sort of topics does he enjoy talking or reading about? Is he interested in science, politics, or sports? How can she arouse his curiosity about the Bible while at the same time respect his feelings and opinions? Thinking along those lines will help her to speak and act with insight.
w07 11/15 p. 16 Are You Refreshing to Others?
For one thing, we can pause and think before we speak. Proverbs 15:28 states: “The heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer.” Such meditation need not be a long-drawn-out process. With a little forethought, we can usually determine how our comments will be received. We could ask ourselves: ‘Is what I am about to say loving? Is it truthful, or is it simply hearsay? Is it “a word at its right time?” Will it refresh and upbuild those with whom I share it?’ (Proverbs 15:23) If we conclude that the thought is negative or untimely, let us make a conscientious effort to dismiss it. Better yet, why not try to replace it with something more positive and appropriate? Thoughtless words are like “the stabs of a sword,” while positive comments are “a healing.”—Proverbs 12:18.
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Showing us how to avoid a common pitfall, the king of Israel says: “The heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer, but the mouth of the wicked ones bubbles forth with bad things.” (Proverbs 15:28) How valuable the advice of this proverb! Senseless and foolish answers that just bubble forth from the mouth seldom lead to anything good. When we consider various factors that may have a bearing on a matter, including the circumstances and feelings of others, we are unlikely to say something that we may later regret.
PROVERBS 15:29)
“Jehovah is far away from the wicked, But he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
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What, then, is the benefit of fearing God and accepting his discipline? The wise man answers: “Jehovah is far away from the wicked ones, but the prayer of the righteous ones he hears.” (Proverbs 15:29) The true God is not near the wicked. “He that is turning his ear away from hearing the law,” states the Bible, “even his prayer is something detestable.” (Proverbs 28:9) Those who fear God and strive to do what is right in his eyes can freely approach him, fully confident that he will hear them.
PROVERBS 15:30)
“Bright eyes make the heart rejoice; A good report invigorates the bones.”
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A good report is said to ‘make the bones fat’ or fill them with marrow, that is, invigorate the whole body. (Pr 15:30)
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At Proverbs 15:30 good news is said to ‘make the bones fat,’ or fill them with marrow—in other words, the whole body is invigorated. The noun deʹshen also reflects this idea of affluence, as at Psalm 36:8, where the sons of men are said to “drink their fill of the fatness [mid•deʹshen; “abundance,” RS]” of God’s house.—Compare Jer 31:14.
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What “Makes the Heart Rejoice”
Using a thought-provoking comparison, Solomon says: “The brightness of the eyes makes the heart rejoice; a report that is good makes the bones fat.” (Proverbs 15:30) The bones are made “fat” when they are filled with marrow. This invigorates the whole body and makes the heart rejoice. And the joy of heart is reflected in the brightness of the eyes. Such is the effect of a good report!
Are not reports of the worldwide expansion of Jehovah’s worship a source of genuine encouragement to us? Learning about all that is being accomplished in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work indeed invigorates us to have a greater share in the ministry. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) The experiences of those who make Jehovah their God and take up true worship fill our hearts with joy. Since “a good report from a distant land” has such a powerful effect, how important it is that we be accurate and conscientious in reporting what we do in the ministry!—Proverbs 25:25.
PROVERBS 15:31)
“The one who listens to life-giving reproof Is at home among the wise.”
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“Before Glory There Is Humility”
Stressing the value of accepting discipline in its various forms, the wise king says: “The ear that is listening to the reproof of life lodges right in among wise people. Anyone shunning discipline is rejecting his own soul, but the one listening to reproof is acquiring heart.” (Proverbs 15:31, 32) Reproof, or discipline, reaches a person’s heart and adjusts it, giving him good sense. No wonder it is “the rod of discipline” that removes the ‘foolishness tied up with the heart of a boy’! (Proverbs 22:15) The one listening to discipline also acquires heart, that is, good motive. On the other hand, to shun discipline is to reject life.
PROVERBS 15:32)
“Anyone refusing discipline despises his life, But whoever listens to reproof acquires understanding.”
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Discipline and the heart. Proverbs puts a high value on discipline in various forms. (Pr 3:11, 12) It says: “Anyone shunning discipline is rejecting his own soul, but the one listening to reproof is acquiring heart.” (15:32) So reproof reaches to and adjusts the heart, helping one to acquire good sense or discernment.
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“Before Glory There Is Humility”
Stressing the value of accepting discipline in its various forms, the wise king says: “The ear that is listening to the reproof of life lodges right in among wise people. Anyone shunning discipline is rejecting his own soul, but the one listening to reproof is acquiring heart.” (Proverbs 15:31, 32) Reproof, or discipline, reaches a person’s heart and adjusts it, giving him good sense. No wonder it is “the rod of discipline” that removes the ‘foolishness tied up with the heart of a boy’! (Proverbs 22:15) The one listening to discipline also acquires heart, that is, good motive. On the other hand, to shun discipline is to reject life.
PROVERBS 15:33)
“The fear of Jehovah is a training in wisdom, And before glory there is humility.”
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Indeed, welcoming wisdom’s discipline and accepting it in humility is beneficial. Doing so leads not only to contentment, advancement, rejoicing, and accomplishment but also to glory and life. Proverbs 15:33 concludes: “The fear of Jehovah is a discipline toward wisdom, and before glory there is humility.”
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“Before Glory There Is Humility”
A CERTAIN young man was in an Egyptian prison on a trumped-up charge. He had suffered much humiliation, and there seemed to be no hope of release from prison. Then he was ordered to appear before Pharaoh. Prison guards quickly brought him out. He shaved, changed his mantles, and then appeared before the monarch.
A surprise awaited Joseph. With Jehovah’s help Joseph correctly interpreted two of Pharaoh’s dreams. Pharaoh said: “See, I do place you over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:41) What an incredible experience—from prison to palace all in one day! Joseph’s experience could illustrate what King Solomon was later inspired to write: “For he has gone forth from the prison house itself to become king.” Appropriately, Solomon twice wrote: “Before glory there is humility.”—Ecclesiastes 4:14; Proverbs 15:33; 18:12.
So as to benefit from that divine truth, ask yourself: What sustained Joseph during his humiliating experience? How did this faithful servant of Jehovah cope with the false charge that put him in prison? What glory did Jehovah have in mind for Joseph? What kind of glory awaits those who down through the centuries have faithfully and courageously suffered persecution and humiliation? Above all, what helps us to keep a balanced attitude when we are suffering humiliation?
Joseph must have meditated often on the two earlier prophetic dreams that indicated that his brothers and even his parents would “bow down” before him. In fact, his brothers, on hearing of the first dream, said: “Are you going to be king over us?”—Genesis 37:8-10.
Joseph’s jealous brothers nearly murdered him! But under Jehovah’s direction, the 17-year-old lad was sold to traveling merchants, who, in turn, sold him to Potiphar, chief of Pharaoh’s bodyguard.
Eventually, Joseph became steward over the household of Potiphar, whose wife tried to seduce the handsome young man. Yet Joseph was loyal to Jehovah and escaped. The wily wife lyingly accused Joseph of attempting to rape her, and Potiphar believed her, so poor Joseph was put in prison.
However, he remained loyal to Jehovah, who, as already mentioned, arranged that he be taken to Pharaoh to interpret dreams. Pharaoh thereafter appointed Joseph to the glorious privilege of organizing Egypt’s food supply. When a famine spread to Canaan, Joseph’s brothers did indeed bow down to him to fetch food for the family.
Others Who Went From ‘Humility to Glory’
Another faithful servant of Jehovah whose life pattern proves the divine truth that “before glory there is humility” was Moses. Raised in the sumptuous court of Pharaoh, Moses had an admirable future before him. Then events seemed to take a turn for the worse. Moses acted out of faith in Jehovah and loving concern for his people, so that he had to flee for his life from an angry Pharaoh. All alone he traveled to Midian. For 40 years he showed his humility by living a simple shepherd’s life, serving his father-in-law Jethro. How encouraging it must have been for Moses during his 40 years of personality-molding to ponder over Jehovah’s way of humbling him and to contemplate what might yet be in store for him!
Then came glory. Jehovah assigned Moses to be His messenger to Pharaoh and to bring His people out of Egypt. What glorious privileges Moses had when he was directly involved in the ten plagues and led Israel through the Red Sea! Later, Moses received the Law from Jehovah on Mount Sinai. When he descended, the people “could not gaze intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face.”—2 Corinthians 3:7.
Consider also Job, the greatest of all the Orientals. He was “a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad.” (Job 1:2, 3, 8) Then, suddenly, he lost his ten children and all his thousands of sheep, camels, cattle, and she-asses.
That was not all. Job came to be completely covered with malignant boils, causing him to be physically nauseating. His own wife mocked him: “Are you yet holding fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9) Job was being severely tried and humiliated, but he was completely unaware of the heavenly confrontation between Jehovah and the archrebel, Satan. The situation was not improved by the lengthy discussion with Job’s three “friends.” However, Job maintained his integrity. He even humbly accepted wise counsel from Elihu—a much younger man.—Job 32:4.
Was Job rewarded? Yes. Jehovah restored Job, doubled the size of his flocks, and gave him seven sons and three daughters—the prettiest in all the land! What a glorious outcome of Job’s humility! How true it proved to be—“before glory there is humility.”—Job 42:12-15.
Different Kinds of Glory
Obviously there are many different kinds of glory—from the glory of a woman’s hair to the glory of Moses’ face as he descended Mount Sinai. (1 Corinthians 11:15; 2 Corinthians 3:7) Spectacular sunsets have a splendid glory, and stars have another glory.—1 Corinthians 15:41.
Different forms of the word “glory” are used hundreds of times in the Bible. Upon examining these references and their context, it is clear that Jehovah is the source of all glory. His faithful servants and his masterpieces of creation can but reflect this glory in many ways and to different degrees.
In our 20th century, we have much evidence of the humiliations suffered by those with the glorious hope of heavenly life. During World War I, leading members of the Watch Tower Society in Brooklyn, New York, were sentenced to 20 years in prison on false charges. About that same time, persecution erupted in many places. For example, J. B. Siebenlist was jailed three days without warrant and without food, except for three pieces of spoiled cornbread. He was taken from jail by the mob, stripped, tarred with hot tar, and whipped with a buggy whip having a wire at its end. At one trial the prosecuting attorney said: “To hell with your Bible; you ought to be in hell with your back broken; you ought to be hung.”
During World War II, some of Jehovah’s faithful servants suffered incredibly in Nazi concentration camps. One was Martin Poetzinger, an anointed Witness who survived to become a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He described Dachau as a “madhouse of demons.” In the camp at Mauthausen, the “Gestapo tried every method to induce us to break our faith in Jehovah. Starvation diet, deceitful friendships, brutalities, having to stand in a frame day after day, being hung from a ten-foot post by the wrists twisted around the back, whippings—all these and others . . . were tried.”
What Sustained These Faithful Christians?
Under such deplorable and degrading conditions, they were helped to endure by their faith in the eventual outcome, including the prospect of the glorious future for those who maintain their integrity. For the “little flock” of anointed Witnesses, this is a heavenly inheritance. (Luke 12:32) A special kind of glory on earth is reserved for other faithful humans. Some of them, such as Joseph and Moses, are referred to in Hebrews chapter 11. Please read verses 32-40 and meditate on the humiliations endured by some of these faithful ones. Further, “a great crowd” is serving Jehovah on earth today. (Revelation 7:9, 15) What is their future?
A rich future awaits them. The heavenly government under Jesus Christ will have earthly representatives who will apply the instruction written in the scrolls referred to at Revelation 20:12. Such ones will have glorious privileges, not as kings, but “as princes in all the earth,” and along with them, unnumbered humble, faithful humans, including resurrected ones, will attain to eternal life in a glorious paradise earth.—Psalm 45:16.
Today there are millions who have demonstrated their humility by abandoning false religion and by gladly sharing in the house-to-house preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many of these have been ridiculed by family members and friends, but they have stuck to true worship. They have humbly accepted correction and discipline so as to serve the true God, Jehovah. Their hope is to live in the restored Paradise, when “the earth will be filled with the knowing of the glory of Jehovah as the waters themselves cover over the sea.”—Habakkuk 2:14.
These are days of testing for Jehovah’s people. It is almost as if we were strangers in an alien land. The gulf between true worship and false is getting deeper and wider. All of us suffer humiliation to some degree. But just as Jesus was comforted and strengthened by the joy set before him, so we too can overcome tests by remembering the final outcome.
The Bible advises us: “Humble yourselves in the eyes of Jehovah, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10) Whenever you are put to a severe test, think of these words: “Before glory there is humility.” Remember, too, that Jehovah cannot fail!
PROVERBS 16:1)
“A man prepares the thoughts of his heart, But the answer he gives is from Jehovah.”
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In fact, the tongue can heal in a spiritual way if it speaks the words of God. (Pr 12:18) “From Jehovah is the answer of the tongue,” for only he can provide spiritually correct words that result in healing. (Pr 16:1)
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“The Arrangings of the Heart”—By Whom?
“To earthling man belong the arrangings of the heart,” states Proverbs 16:1a. Clearly, “the arrangings of the heart” is our responsibility. Jehovah neither prepares our heart miraculously nor gives us a willing spirit. We need to put forth the effort to acquire accurate knowledge of his Word, the Bible, reflect on what we learn, and bring our thoughts into harmony with his.—Proverbs 2:10, 11.
David’s request for “a pure heart” and “a new spirit,” however, shows that he recognized his sinful tendency and the need for divine help to cleanse his heart. Being imperfect, we may be tempted to engage in “the works of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:19-21) To “deaden [our] body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness,” we need Jehovah’s help. (Colossians 3:5) How vital that we pray for his assistance in order to avoid yielding to temptations and to remove from our heart sinful traits!
Can we help others in “the arrangings” of their heart? “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword,” states the Bible, “but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) When does our tongue have a healing effect? Only when “from Jehovah is the answer of the tongue,” that is, when we speak spiritually correct words of truth.—Proverbs 16:1b.
PROVERBS 16:2)
“All of a man’s ways seem right to him, But Jehovah examines the motives.”
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“The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate,” says the Bible. (Jeremiah 17:9) Our figurative heart is prone to self-justification and self-deception. Warning of this danger, King Solomon of ancient Israel says: “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but Jehovah is making an estimate of spirits.”—Proverbs 16:2.
Self-love may cause us to justify our errors, camouflage bad personality traits, and be blind to our own badness. Jehovah, though, cannot be deceived. He is making an estimate of spirits. A person’s spirit is his or her dominant mental inclination and is connected to the heart. To a large extent, its development depends on the activity of the figurative heart, which involves such things as our thoughts, emotions, and motives. The spirit is what “the examiner of hearts” estimates, and his judgments are free from favoritism or partiality. We are wise to guard our spirit.
PROVERBS 16:3)
“Commit to Jehovah whatever you do, And your plans will succeed.”
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“Firmly Establish Your Plans.” That was the subject developed by Gilead instructor William Samuelson. His talk was based on Proverbs 16:3, which states: “Roll your works upon Jehovah himself and your plans will be firmly established.” Brother Samuelson asked the students: “Does this verse mean that you have no part in establishing your plans other than ‘rolling your works’ upon Jehovah?” No, he said, for Proverbs 16:1 states: “To earthling man belong the arrangings of the heart.” Brother Samuelson said: “Jehovah does not miraculously arrange your heart for you. Rather, you need to be sure that you are motivated in the right direction. By study, prayer, and close ties to the local branch office, you will continue to have a heart that will serve you well, and Jehovah himself will firmly establish your plans.”
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“Roll Your Works Upon Jehovah”
Making plans involves the thought process—an activity of our heart. Deeds usually follow plans. Will we succeed in our endeavors? Solomon says: “Roll your works upon Jehovah himself and your plans will be firmly established.” (Proverbs 16:3) To roll our works on Jehovah means to place our trust in him, to rely on him, to be committed to him—to roll the burden off our shoulders, as it were, onto his. The psalmist sang: “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act.”—Psalm 37:5.
For our plans to be firmly established, however, they must be in harmony with God’s Word, and they must stem from good motives. Moreover, we should pray to Jehovah for help and support and conscientiously do our best to follow the Bible’s advice. It is particularly important to ‘throw our burden upon Jehovah’ when we are faced with trials or difficulties, for ‘he will sustain us.’ Indeed, “never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Psalm 55:22.
PROVERBS 16:4)
“Jehovah has made everything work for his purpose, Even the wicked for the day of disaster.”
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Additionally, Jehovah God makes use of circumstances in such a way that the wicked themselves unwittingly serve his purpose. Though they oppose God, he can restrain them to the extent necessary for the preserving of his servants in their integrity, and can cause the actions even of such persons to bring his righteousness to the fore. (Ro 3:3-5, 23-26; 8:35-39; Ps 76:10) This thought is expressed at Proverbs 16:4: “Everything Jehovah has made for his purpose, yes, even the wicked one for the evil day.”
A case in point is the Pharaoh on whom Jehovah, through Moses and Aaron, served notice for the release of the enslaved Israelites. God did not make this Egyptian ruler wicked, but he did allow him to continue living and also brought about circumstances that caused Pharaoh to manifest himself as being wicked and deserving of death. Jehovah’s purpose in doing this is revealed at Exodus 9:16: “For this cause I have kept you in existence, for the sake of showing you my power and in order to have my name declared in all the earth.”
The Ten Plagues visited upon Egypt, climaxed by the destruction of Pharaoh and his military forces in the Red Sea, were an impressive demonstration of Jehovah’s power. (Ex 7:14–12:30; Ps 78:43-51; 136:15) For years afterward the nations round about were still talking about it, and God’s name was thus being declared throughout the earth. (Jos 2:10, 11; 1Sa 4:8) Had Jehovah killed Pharaoh immediately, this grand display of God’s power to His glory and for the deliverance of His people would not have been possible.
The Scriptures give assurance that the time will come when wickedness will no longer exist, as all those who stand in opposition to the Creator will be destroyed when his permission of wickedness will have served its purpose.—2Pe 3:9-13; Re 18:20-24; 19:11–20:3, 7-10.
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“Everything Jehovah Has Made for His Purpose”
What else will result from our rolling our works upon Jehovah? “Everything Jehovah has made for his purpose,” says the wise king. (Proverbs 16:4a) The Creator of the universe is a God of purpose. When we roll our works upon him, our life becomes filled with purposeful and meaningful activity, void of futility or vanity. And Jehovah’s purpose for the earth and man upon it is eternal. (Ephesians 3:11) He formed the earth and created it “to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) Moreover, what he originally purposed for mankind on earth is bound to become a reality. (Genesis 1:28) A life devoted to the true God will be unending and have meaning forever.
Jehovah has made “even the wicked one for the evil day.” (Proverbs 16:4b) He did not create the wicked, for “perfect is his activity.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) However, he has allowed them to come into existence and continue living until he sees fit to execute his adverse judgment. For example, Jehovah said to Pharaoh of Egypt: “For this cause I have kept you in existence, for the sake of showing you my power and in order to have my name declared in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16) The Ten Plagues and the destruction of Pharaoh and his forces in the Red Sea were indeed memorable demonstrations of God’s matchless power.
Jehovah can also make circumstances work out in such a way that the wicked unknowingly serve his purpose. The psalmist said: “The very rage of man will laud you; the remainder of raging you [Jehovah] will gird upon yourself.” (Psalm 76:10) Jehovah may allow his enemies to express their rage toward his servants—but only to the extent necessary to discipline his people and thus train them. What is in excess of this, God takes upon himself.
PROVERBS 16:5)
“Everyone proud in heart is detestable to Jehovah. Be assured that he will not go unpunished.”
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While Jehovah supports his humble servants, what about the proud and arrogant? “Everyone that is proud in heart is something detestable to Jehovah,” says the king of Israel. “Hand may join to hand, yet one will not be free from punishment.” (Proverbs 16:5) Those “proud in heart” may band together in mutual support, but they will not escape punishment. We are wise, then, to cultivate the spirit of humility regardless of how knowledgeable we are or how capable we may be or whatever service privileges we may have.
PROVERBS 16:6)
“By loyal love and faithfulness, error is atoned for, And by fearing Jehovah one turns away from bad.”
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“In the Fear of Jehovah”
Born in sin, we are prone to err. (Romans 3:23; 5:12) What will help us to avoid making plans that will lead to a bad course? Proverbs 16:6 states: “By loving-kindness and trueness error is atoned for, and in the fear of Jehovah one turns away from bad.” While by his loving-kindness and trueness Jehovah atones for our sins, it is the fear of Jehovah that serves as a deterrent to committing sins. How vital it is that along with love for God and appreciation for his loving-kindness, we cultivate fear of displeasing him!
The fear of God enters into our heart when we develop reverence and respect for God’s awesome power. Just think of his power reflected in the creation! Being reminded of the manifestation of power in God’s creative works helped the patriarch Job to readjust his thinking. (Job 42:1-6) Are we not likewise affected when we read and reflect on the accounts of Jehovah’s dealings with his people as recorded in the Bible? The psalmist sang: “Come, you people, and see the activities of God. His dealing with the sons of men is fear-inspiring.” (Psalm 66:5) Jehovah’s loving-kindness is not to be taken for granted. When the Israelites ‘rebelled and made God’s holy spirit feel hurt, Jehovah was changed into an enemy of theirs; he himself warred against them.’ (Isaiah 63:10)
PROVERBS 16:7)
“When Jehovah is pleased with a man’s ways, He causes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
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Jehovah’s loving-kindness is not to be taken for granted. When the Israelites ‘rebelled and made God’s holy spirit feel hurt, Jehovah was changed into an enemy of theirs; he himself warred against them.’ (Isaiah 63:10) On the other hand, “when Jehovah takes pleasure in the ways of a man he causes even his enemies themselves to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7) What a protection the fear of Jehovah is!
PROVERBS 16:8)
“Better is a little with righteousness Than a large income without justice.”
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“Better is a little with righteousness than an abundance of products without justice,” says the wise king. (Proverbs 16:8) Proverbs 15:16 states: “Better is a little in the fear of Jehovah than an abundant supply and confusion along with it.” A reverential awe of God is certainly essential for staying on a righteous course.
PROVERBS 16:9)
“A man may plot out his course in his heart, But it is Jehovah who directs his steps.”
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One such principle is God’s testing of individuals by causing or allowing certain circumstances or events, or by causing such individuals to hear his inspired messages, the result being that they are obliged to exercise their free choice to make a decision and thus reveal a definite heart attitude, read by Jehovah. (Pr 15:11; 1Pe 1:6, 7; Heb 4:12, 13) According to the way the individuals respond, God can also mold them in the course they have selected of their own volition. (1Ch 28:9; Ps 33:13-15; 139:1-4, 23, 24) Thus, “the heart of earthling man” first inclines toward a certain way before Jehovah does the directing of the steps of such a one. (Pr 16:9; Ps 51:10) Under testing, one’s heart condition can become fixed, either hardened in unrighteousness and rebellion or made firm in unbreakable devotion to Jehovah God and the doing of his will. (Job 2:3-10; Jer 18:11, 12; Ro 2:4-11; Heb 3:7-10, 12-15) Having reached such a point of his own choice, the end result of the individual’s course can now be foreknown and foretold with no injustice and no violation of man’s free moral agency.—Compare Job 34:10-12.
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“The Heart of Earthling Man May Think Out His Way”
Man was created a free moral agent, able to choose between right and wrong. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) Our figurative heart has the ability to consider different options and fix its aim on one or more of them. Indicating that making choices is our responsibility, Solomon says: “The heart of earthling man may think out his way.” Once this is done, “Jehovah himself does the directing of his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) Since Jehovah can guide our steps, we are acting wisely if we seek his help in ‘making our plans firmly established.’
As we have already noted, the heart is treacherous and is capable of carrying out false reasoning. For example, a person may commit a sin, and his heart may resort to self-justification. Instead of abandoning his sinful course, the individual may reason that God is loving, kind, merciful, and forgiving. Such a man has said in his heart: “God has forgotten. He has concealed his face. He will certainly never see it.” (Psalm 10:11) However, it is improper and dangerous to presume upon God’s mercy.
sg study 15 p. 75 par. 8 Reaching the Heart of Your Listeners
8 At times the heart may overrule the conclusions of the mind, giving motivation that favors and elevates emotion or desire over logical reasoning. Not only does a person have to know with his mind what is right in Jehovah’s eyes, but he has to have the desire in his heart to follow that course. This ability of the heart to select between optional courses and fix its design on one of them explains why the Bible speaks of the heart of man as ‘making plans’ and ‘thinking out [fixing his mind on] his ways.’ (Prov. 19:21; 16:9) Unless circumstances more or less oblige them to do otherwise, persons will follow the course that appeals to their hearts. This is particularly true when it comes to moral and spiritual matters.—Matt. 5:28.
PROVERBS 16:10)
“Inspired decision should be on the lips of a king; He must never betray justice.”
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Shifting his focus from the heart and the actions of earthling man to those of a king, Solomon says: “Inspired decision should be upon the lips of a king; in judgment his mouth should not prove unfaithful.” (Proverbs 16:10) This will certainly be true of the enthroned King Jesus Christ. His rule over the earth will be in accordance with the divine will.
PROVERBS 16:11)
“Honest balances and scales are from Jehovah; All the weights in the bag are his doing.”
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Identifying the source of justice and righteousness, the wise king says: “The just indicator and scales belong to Jehovah; all the stone weights of the bag are his work.” (Proverbs 16:11) Just indicators and scales are provided by Jehovah. Such standards are not for a king to come up with according to his preference. When on earth, Jesus said: “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” We can expect perfect justice from the Son, to whom the Father “has committed all the judging.”—John 5:22, 30.
PROVERBS 16:12)
“Wicked practices are detestable to kings, For the throne is firmly established by righteousness.”
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What else can be expected of a king who represents Jehovah? “The doing of wickedness is something detestable to kings,” says the king of Israel, “for by righteousness is the throne firmly established.” (Proverbs 16:12) The Messianic Kingdom is governed by God’s righteous principles. It has no alliance with “the throne causing adversities.”—Psalm 94:20; John 18:36; 1 John 5:19.
PROVERBS 16:13)
“Righteous speech is a pleasure to kings. They love someone who speaks honestly.”
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Gaining the Goodwill of a King
How should the subjects of a majestic king respond? Solomon says: “The lips of righteousness are a pleasure to a grand king; and the speaker of upright things he loves. The rage of a king means messengers of death, but the wise man is one that averts it.” (Proverbs 16:13, 14) Jehovah’s worshippers today take to heart these words and busy themselves in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) They know that using their lips in this way brings pleasure to the Messianic King, Jesus Christ. Averting the displeasure of a powerful human king and seeking his favor was certainly wise. How much wiser it is to seek the approval of the Messianic King!
PROVERBS 16:14)
“The king’s rage is like a messenger of death, But the wise man appeases it.”
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Gaining the Goodwill of a King
How should the subjects of a majestic king respond? Solomon says: “The lips of righteousness are a pleasure to a grand king; and the speaker of upright things he loves. The rage of a king means messengers of death, but the wise man is one that averts it.” (Proverbs 16:13, 14) Jehovah’s worshippers today take to heart these words and busy themselves in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) They know that using their lips in this way brings pleasure to the Messianic King, Jesus Christ. Averting the displeasure of a powerful human king and seeking his favor was certainly wise. How much wiser it is to seek the approval of the Messianic King!
PROVERBS 16:15)
“In the light of the king’s face there is life; His favor is like a cloud of rain in spring.”
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Similarly, the favor of a ruler is referred to as “the light of the king’s face.”—Pr 16:15.
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The goodwill of a king was likened to “the cloud of spring rain,” for it gave evidence of pleasant conditions to come, just as rain-bearing clouds assured the water necessary for the crops to come to fruition.—Pr 16:15.
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“In the light of the king’s face there is life,” Solomon continues, “and his goodwill is like the cloud of spring rain.” (Proverbs 16:15) “The light of the king’s face” means his favor, even as ‘the light of Jehovah’s face’ denotes divine favor. (Psalm 44:3; 89:15) Just as rain clouds are an assurance of water that will help to ripen crops, the goodwill of a king is an evidence of good things to come. Life under the reign of the Messianic King will be full of blessings and prosperity, just as the reign of King Solomon was on a small scale.—Psalm 72:1-17.
PROVERBS 16:16)
“How much better to acquire wisdom than gold! To gain understanding is to be chosen over silver.”
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“THE getting of wisdom is O how much better than gold! And the getting of understanding is to be chosen more than silver,” states Proverbs 16:16. Why is wisdom so valuable? Because “wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) How, though, does wisdom preserve alive its owners?
Acquiring godly wisdom, that is, gaining accurate knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible, and acting in harmony with it, helps us to walk in the way Jehovah approves. (Proverbs 2:10-12)
PROVERBS 16:17)
“The highway of the upright avoids what is bad. Whoever safeguards his way preserves his life.”
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Acquiring godly wisdom, that is, gaining accurate knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible, and acting in harmony with it, helps us to walk in the way Jehovah approves. (Proverbs 2:10-12) King Solomon of ancient Israel says: “The highway of the upright ones is to turn away from bad. One who is safeguarding his way is keeping his soul.” (Proverbs 16:17) Yes, wisdom delivers its owners from bad ways and preserves them alive!
PROVERBS 16:18)
“Pride is before a crash, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
it-1 p. 1045 Haughtiness
Guarding Against Haughtiness. A person should therefore watch carefully to keep haughtiness out of his heart. He should be especially on guard when he has achieved success in any endeavor or when he is given a higher or more responsible position. He ought to be mindful that “pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Pr 16:18) If he lets haughtiness grow, it can come to control him to the extent that Jehovah will class him with those whom He gives up to a disapproved mental state, and who are deserving of death. (Ro 1:28, 30, 32) Such caution is especially appropriate in “the last days,” when, as the apostle warned, haughtiness would be one of the distinguishing characteristics of those critical times.—2Ti 3:1, 2.
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WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
“Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”—Proverbs 16:18.
WHAT IT MEANS. Ambition and conceit will not help you find true success. In fact, the book Good to Great notes that company leaders who have achieved long-term success “display a compelling modesty, are self-effacing and understated. In contrast, two thirds of the comparison companies had leaders with gargantuan personal egos that contributed to the demise or continued mediocrity of the company.” The lesson? Thinking too much of yourself is more likely to lead to failure than success.
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“Pride is before a crash,” warns Proverbs 16:18, “and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Consider the greatest crash in the universe—the fall of a perfect spirit son of God who made himself Satan the Devil. (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9) Did he not manifest a haughty spirit prior to his crash? The Bible points to this when it says that a newly converted man should not be appointed to an office of oversight in the Christian congregation “for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1, 2, 6) How important it is to guard against feeding the pride of others as well as allowing it to develop in us!
PROVERBS 16:19)
“Better to be humble among the meek Than to share the spoil of the haughty.”
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“Better is it to be lowly in spirit with the meek ones than to divide spoil with the self-exalted ones,” states Proverbs 16:19. That this is good admonition is shown in the case of King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon. He proudly set up an immense image—perhaps representing himself—on the plain of Dura. The statue may have been mounted on a very high pedestal so that it reached a height of 90 feet [27 m]. (Daniel 3:1) This towering monument was meant to be an impressive symbol of Nebuchadnezzar’s empire. While high and lofty things—such as that statue as well as obelisks, steeples, and skyscrapers—may impress humans, this is not the case with God. The psalmist sang: “Jehovah is high, and yet the humble one he sees; but the lofty one he knows only from a distance.” (Psalm 138:6) In fact, “what is lofty among men is a disgusting thing in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15) Better it is for us to “be led along with the lowly things” than for us to “be minding lofty things.”—Romans 12:16.
PROVERBS 16:20)
“The one who shows insight in a matter will find success, And happy is the one trusting in Jehovah.”
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By nature, some sheep may not be warm and companionable. Still, the elders try to show insight and “find good” in them. (Prov. 16:20) True, being imperfect, an elder may struggle to have a positive view of each one.
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Speak With “Insight” and “Persuasiveness”
How does acquiring wisdom affect our speech? The wise king tells us: “He that is showing insight in a matter will find good, and happy is he that is trusting in Jehovah. The one that is wise in heart will be called understanding, and he that is sweet in his lips adds persuasiveness. To its owners insight is a well of life; and the discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness. The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.”—Proverbs 16:20-23.
Wisdom helps us speak with insight and persuasiveness. Why? Because a person who is wise at heart tries to “find good” in a matter and ‘trusts in Jehovah.’ When we endeavor to find good in others, we are more likely to speak well of them. Rather than being harsh or confrontational, our words are sweet and persuasive. Insight into the circumstances of others helps us to understand the extent of hardship they may be experiencing and how they are coping with it.
Speech influenced by wisdom is also vital when it comes to our Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. When we teach God’s Word to others, our objective is not merely to convey Scriptural information. Our goal is to reach the heart of individuals. This calls for adding persuasiveness to our lips. The apostle Paul urged his associate Timothy to continue in the things he had been “persuaded to believe.”—2 Timothy 3:14, 15.
The Greek word for “persuade” has the meaning of “bringing about a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral considerations,” says An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine. Coming up with convincing arguments that lead to a change of mind in our listener calls for insight into his or her thinking, interests, circumstances, and background. How can we gain such insight? The disciple James answers: “Be swift about hearing, slow about speaking.” (James 1:19) By drawing the listener out and carefully paying attention to what he says, we can get to know what he is at heart.
The apostle Paul was outstanding in his ability to persuade others. (Acts 18:4) Even one of his opposers, Demetrius, a silversmith, acknowledged: “Not only in Ephesus but in nearly all the district of Asia this Paul has persuaded a considerable crowd and turned them to another opinion.” (Acts 19:26) Did Paul take personal credit for his effectiveness in the preaching work? Not at all. He considered his preaching to be “a demonstration of [God’s] spirit and power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4, 5) We too have the help of Jehovah’s holy spirit. Because we trust in Jehovah, we are confident of his help as we endeavor to speak with insight and persuasiveness in our ministry.
No wonder that “the one that is wise in heart” is called “intelligent” or “discerning”! (Proverbs 16:21, An American Translation; New International Version) Yes, insight is “a well of life” to those who have it.
w93 6/1 pp. 20-21 What Does It Take to Make You Happy?
Trusting in Jehovah
Consciousness of one’s spiritual need indicates a willingness to trust in God. This makes for happiness, as King Solomon explained: “Happy is he that is trusting in Jehovah.”—Proverbs 16:20.
Is it not a fact, though, that many people put greater trust in money and possessions than they do in God? Viewed from this standpoint, there could hardly be a more inappropriate place to display the motto “In God We Trust” than upon money, although that expression does appear on U.S. currency.
King Solomon, who lacked none of the good things that money could buy, recognized that trusting in material possessions does not lead to lasting happiness. (Ecclesiastes 5:12-15) Money in the bank can be lost through bank failure or by inflation. Real estate can be destroyed by severe storms. Insurance policies, while partially replacing material losses, can never make up for emotional losses. Stocks and bonds can become worthless overnight in a sudden market crash. Even a well-paying job can—for any number of reasons—be here today and gone tomorrow.
PROVERBS 16:21)
“The wise in heart will be called understanding, And the one kind in speech adds persuasiveness.”
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Speak With “Insight” and “Persuasiveness”
How does acquiring wisdom affect our speech? The wise king tells us: “He that is showing insight in a matter will find good, and happy is he that is trusting in Jehovah. The one that is wise in heart will be called understanding, and he that is sweet in his lips adds persuasiveness. To its owners insight is a well of life; and the discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness. The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.”—Proverbs 16:20-23.
Wisdom helps us speak with insight and persuasiveness. Why? Because a person who is wise at heart tries to “find good” in a matter and ‘trusts in Jehovah.’ When we endeavor to find good in others, we are more likely to speak well of them. Rather than being harsh or confrontational, our words are sweet and persuasive. Insight into the circumstances of others helps us to understand the extent of hardship they may be experiencing and how they are coping with it.
Speech influenced by wisdom is also vital when it comes to our Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. When we teach God’s Word to others, our objective is not merely to convey Scriptural information. Our goal is to reach the heart of individuals. This calls for adding persuasiveness to our lips. The apostle Paul urged his associate Timothy to continue in the things he had been “persuaded to believe.”—2 Timothy 3:14, 15.
The Greek word for “persuade” has the meaning of “bringing about a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral considerations,” says An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine. Coming up with convincing arguments that lead to a change of mind in our listener calls for insight into his or her thinking, interests, circumstances, and background. How can we gain such insight? The disciple James answers: “Be swift about hearing, slow about speaking.” (James 1:19) By drawing the listener out and carefully paying attention to what he says, we can get to know what he is at heart.
The apostle Paul was outstanding in his ability to persuade others. (Acts 18:4) Even one of his opposers, Demetrius, a silversmith, acknowledged: “Not only in Ephesus but in nearly all the district of Asia this Paul has persuaded a considerable crowd and turned them to another opinion.” (Acts 19:26) Did Paul take personal credit for his effectiveness in the preaching work? Not at all. He considered his preaching to be “a demonstration of [God’s] spirit and power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4, 5) We too have the help of Jehovah’s holy spirit. Because we trust in Jehovah, we are confident of his help as we endeavor to speak with insight and persuasiveness in our ministry.
No wonder that “the one that is wise in heart” is called “intelligent” or “discerning”! (Proverbs 16:21, An American Translation; New International Version) Yes, insight is “a well of life” to those who have it.
PROVERBS 16:22)
“Insight is a fountain of life to those possessing it, But fools are disciplined by their own foolishness.”
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Results From Heeding and From Ignoring. The wicked, the fools, or the morally worthless ones show their hatred of Jehovah’s discipline by rejecting it completely. (Ps 50:16, 17; Pr 1:7) The bad results that come from such foolishness constitutes further discipline, often severe chastisement. As the proverb puts it: “The discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness.” (Pr 16:22) They may bring upon themselves poverty, disgrace, sickness, and even untimely death. The history of the Israelites illustrates how great the loss can be. They paid no attention to the discipline in the form of reproof and correction expressed through the prophets. They were heedless of the discipline in the form of Jehovah’s withholding his protection and blessing. Finally, they experienced the severe discipline announced beforehand—conquest and exile.—Jer 2:30; 5:3; 7:28; 17:23; 32:33; Ho 7:12-16; 10:10; Zep 3:2.
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To its owners insight is a well of life; and the discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness.
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Proverbs 16:20-
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Yes, insight is “a well of life” to those who have it. But what about the foolish? They ‘despise wisdom and discipline.’ (Proverbs 1:7) What results do they reap by rejecting discipline from Jehovah? As noted above, Solomon says: “The discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness.” (Proverbs 16:22) They receive further discipline, often in the form of severe chastisement. The foolish may also bring upon themselves hardship, shame, disease, and even untimely death.
PROVERBS 16:23)
“The heart of the wise one gives his mouth insight And adds persuasiveness to his speech.”
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Speak With “Insight” and “Persuasiveness”
How does acquiring wisdom affect our speech? The wise king tells us: “He that is showing insight in a matter will find good, and happy is he that is trusting in Jehovah. The one that is wise in heart will be called understanding, and he that is sweet in his lips adds persuasiveness. To its owners insight is a well of life; and the discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness. The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.”—Proverbs 16:20-23.
Wisdom helps us speak with insight and persuasiveness. Why? Because a person who is wise at heart tries to “find good” in a matter and ‘trusts in Jehovah.’ When we endeavor to find good in others, we are more likely to speak well of them. Rather than being harsh or confrontational, our words are sweet and persuasive. Insight into the circumstances of others helps us to understand the extent of hardship they may be experiencing and how they are coping with it.
Speech influenced by wisdom is also vital when it comes to our Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. When we teach God’s Word to others, our objective is not merely to convey Scriptural information. Our goal is to reach the heart of individuals. This calls for adding persuasiveness to our lips. The apostle Paul urged his associate Timothy to continue in the things he had been “persuaded to believe.”—2 Timothy 3:14, 15.
The Greek word for “persuade” has the meaning of “bringing about a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral considerations,” says An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine. Coming up with convincing arguments that lead to a change of mind in our listener calls for insight into his or her thinking, interests, circumstances, and background. How can we gain such insight? The disciple James answers: “Be swift about hearing, slow about speaking.” (James 1:19) By drawing the listener out and carefully paying attention to what he says, we can get to know what he is at heart.
The apostle Paul was outstanding in his ability to persuade others. (Acts 18:4) Even one of his opposers, Demetrius, a silversmith, acknowledged: “Not only in Ephesus but in nearly all the district of Asia this Paul has persuaded a considerable crowd and turned them to another opinion.” (Acts 19:26) Did Paul take personal credit for his effectiveness in the preaching work? Not at all. He considered his preaching to be “a demonstration of [God’s] spirit and power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4, 5) We too have the help of Jehovah’s holy spirit. Because we trust in Jehovah, we are confident of his help as we endeavor to speak with insight and persuasiveness in our ministry.
No wonder that “the one that is wise in heart” is called “intelligent” or “discerning”! (Proverbs 16:21, An American Translation; New International Version) Yes, insight is “a well of life” to those who have it.
w99 3/15 pp. 15-16 Teach With Insight and Persuasiveness
“The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.”—PROVERBS 16:23.
OUR goal as teachers of God’s Word is to illuminate not only the minds of our students but also their hearts. (Ephesians 1:18) Teaching therefore involves more than simply conveying information. Proverbs 16:23 says: “The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.”
2 The apostle Paul certainly applied this principle in his teaching work. When he was in Corinth, “he would give a talk in the synagogue every sabbath and would persuade Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 18:4) According to one authority, the Greek word here rendered “persuade” means “bringing about a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral considerations.” By means of convincing arguments, Paul was able to move people to change their very way of thinking. His ability to persuade was so formidable that he was feared by his enemies. (Acts 19:24-27) Nevertheless, Paul’s teaching was not a display of human ability. He told the Corinthians: “My speech and what I preached were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of spirit and power, that your faith might be, not in men’s wisdom, but in God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4, 5) Since all Christians have the help of Jehovah God’s spirit, all of them may become persuasive teachers. But how? Let us look at some effective teaching techniques.
Be a Good Listener
3 The first teaching technique involves, not speaking, but listening. As noted at Proverbs 16:23, to be persuasive we must have insight. Jesus certainly had insight regarding the people he taught. John 2:25 says: “He himself knew what was in man.” But how can we know what is in the hearts of those whom we teach? One way is by being a good listener. James 1:19 says: “Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking.” True, not all people readily express their thoughts. As our Bible students become convinced of our genuine interest in them, they may be more inclined to express their true feelings. Kind but perceptive questions can often help us to reach the heart and ‘draw up’ such expressions.—Proverbs 20:5.
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9 A Bible proverb says: “The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.” (Proverbs 16:23) Really, then, the key to successful communication is in the heart, not in the mouth. What is your attitude toward your mate? The Bible encourages Christians to show “fellow feeling.” (1 Peter 3:8) Can you do this when your marriage partner experiences distressing anxiety? If so, it will help you to know how to answer.—Isaiah 50:4.
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Showing Insight
A Bible proverb states: “The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness.” (Proverbs 16:23) The Hebrew word here translated ‘causes to show insight’ basically means to be prudent, to weigh matters carefully in the mind. Therefore, the focal point of effective communication is the heart, not the mouth. A good communicator must be more than a talker; he must be an empathetic listener. (James 1:19) He must discern the feelings and issues that lie beneath a mate’s surface behavior.—Proverbs 20:5.
PROVERBS 16:24)
“Pleasant sayings are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones.”
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Illustrative Use. The curative properties of honey are compared to pleasant sayings and wisdom, not only because of its sweetness and fine taste but also because of its health-giving qualities. Pleasant sayings are healthful spiritually, just as honey is good for the physical body. The writer of Proverbs says: “Pleasant sayings are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones.”—Pr 16:24; 24:13, 14.
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Pointing further to the wholesome effect that wisdom has on our speech, the king of Israel says: “Pleasant sayings are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24) As honey is sweet and provides quick refreshment to a hungry person, pleasant sayings are encouraging and refreshing. Honey also has health-giving and curative properties and is good for a person. So are pleasant sayings; they are healthful spiritually.—Proverbs 24:13, 14.
PROVERBS 16:25)
“There is a way that seems right to a man, But in the end it leads to death.”
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Beware of ‘a Way That Seems Upright’
“There exists a way that is upright before a man,” says Solomon, “but the ways of death are the end of it afterward.” (Proverbs 16:25) This is a warning against false reasoning and the pursuit of a course opposed to divine law. A certain path may seem right from a fleshly standpoint but may really be against the righteous principles of God’s Word. Moreover, Satan may promote such deception so that a person is urged along in a course he believes to be right, whereas it actually leads to death.
There can be no better protection against self-deception than a heart that is wise and understanding and a conscience that is enlightened by the knowledge of God’s Word. When it comes to making decisions in life—whether in the matter of morals or worship or anything else—the best way to guard against self-delusion is to be guided by God’s standards of good and bad.
PROVERBS 16:26)
“The appetite of a laborer makes him work hard For his hunger urges him on.”
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“The Laboring Man’s Appetite Labors for Him”
“The soul of the hard worker has worked hard for him,” continues the wise king, “because his mouth has pressed him hard.” (Proverbs 16:26) Solomon is saying that a worker’s desire for food ‘can work hard for him’ because his hunger ‘presses him,’ or motivates him. An American Translation reads: “The laboring man’s appetite labors for him; for his hunger urges him on.” Normal desire, such as our appetite for food, can motivate us to be productive. Such a desire is constructive. However, what if proper desire is allowed to become so excessive that it turns into greed? The results are similar to what happens when a campfire used to cook food becomes a full-blown forest fire. Greed is desire out of control and is destructive. Realizing the danger, a wise person keeps even his wholesome desires in check.
PROVERBS 16:27)
“A worthless man digs up what is bad; His speech is like a scorching fire.”
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However, because of the destructiveness of uncontrolled fire, it is described as one of the four things that have not said: “Enough!” (Pr 30:15, 16) For the same reason James compared the tongue when used wrongly to a fire.—Jas 3:5-8; compare Pr 16:27.
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The words coming from our mouth can be as destructive as a blazing fire. Describing the ruinous effect of searching out the faults of others and broadcasting them, Solomon says: “A good-for-nothing man is digging up what is bad, and upon his lips there is, as it were, a scorching fire. A man of intrigues keeps sending forth contention, and a slanderer is separating those familiar with one another.”—Proverbs 16:27, 28.
A man who tries to scorch his fellow man’s reputation is “good-for-nothing.” We should try to look for the good in others and say things that build respect for them. And what about lending an ear to those who spread harmful gossip? Their words can easily arouse groundless suspicions, separating friends and causing division within the congregation. Wisdom will move us to pay no heed to them.
PROVERBS 16:28)
“A troublemaker causes dissension, And a slanderer separates close friends.”
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The words coming from our mouth can be as destructive as a blazing fire. Describing the ruinous effect of searching out the faults of others and broadcasting them, Solomon says: “A good-for-nothing man is digging up what is bad, and upon his lips there is, as it were, a scorching fire. A man of intrigues keeps sending forth contention, and a slanderer is separating those familiar with one another.”—Proverbs 16:27, 28.
A man who tries to scorch his fellow man’s reputation is “good-for-nothing.” We should try to look for the good in others and say things that build respect for them. And what about lending an ear to those who spread harmful gossip? Their words can easily arouse groundless suspicions, separating friends and causing division within the congregation. Wisdom will move us to pay no heed to them.
w89 10/15 p. 13 par. 16 Guard Against Harmful Gossip!
16 We should not listen to malicious gossipers, since they separate friends. Often, slanderers exaggerate, misrepresent, lie, and heap up mountains of inflammatory words. Instead of speaking to a person face-to-face, they whisper behind his back. Unfounded suspicions are often aroused. Thus, “a slanderer is separating those familiar with one another.”—Proverbs 16:28.
PROVERBS 16:29)
“A violent man entices his neighbor And leads him in the wrong way.”
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Warning about a seductive power that can cause one to follow a wrong course, Solomon says: “A man of violence will seduce his fellow, and certainly causes him to go in a way that is not good. He is blinking with his eyes to scheme up intrigues. Pinching his lips together, he certainly brings mischief to completion.”—Proverbs 16:29, 30.
Can violence exercise its seductive power over true worshippers? Many individuals today have been seduced into ‘scheming up intrigues.’ They promote or perpetrate acts of violence. We may not find it difficult to stay clear of such direct participation in violence. But what about being lured into it by subtle means? Have not millions of people been enticed into enjoying entertainment or sports that glorify violence? The Scriptural warning is clear: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) What protection godly wisdom affords!
PROVERBS 16:30)
“He winks his eye as he schemes harm. He pinches his lips together as he carries out mischief.”
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Warning about a seductive power that can cause one to follow a wrong course, Solomon says: “A man of violence will seduce his fellow, and certainly causes him to go in a way that is not good. He is blinking with his eyes to scheme up intrigues. Pinching his lips together, he certainly brings mischief to completion.”—Proverbs 16:29, 30.
Can violence exercise its seductive power over true worshippers? Many individuals today have been seduced into ‘scheming up intrigues.’ They promote or perpetrate acts of violence. We may not find it difficult to stay clear of such direct participation in violence. But what about being lured into it by subtle means? Have not millions of people been enticed into enjoying entertainment or sports that glorify violence? The Scriptural warning is clear: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) What protection godly wisdom affords!
PROVERBS 16:31)
“Gray hair is a crown of beauty When it is found in the way of righteousness.”
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Gray-headedness is like a glorious “crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness,” a life spent in fear of Jehovah being beautiful from his viewpoint and meriting respect by all humans as a good example. (Pr 16:31; see Le 19:32.)
it-1 p. 995 Gray-headedness
The Bible recognizes both the beauty of youth and the splendor of old age. “The beauty of young men is their power, and the splendor of old men is their gray-headedness.” (Pr 20:29) Especially is the latter true if such ones are found worshiping and serving Jehovah. “Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Pr 16:31) “Those who are planted in the house of Jehovah, . . . they will still keep on thriving during gray-headedness.” (Ps 92:13, 14) They will not be abandoned by their God. (Isa 46:4) Jehovah’s law is: “Before gray hair you should rise up, and you must show consideration for the person of an old man.”—Le 19:32.
it-2 p. 549 Older Man
Thus, the Hebrew Scriptures emphasize that age alone is not sufficient, that “gray-headedness is a crown of beauty” only when “found in the way of righteousness.” (Pr 16:31) It is not “those merely abundant in days that prove wise, nor those just old that understand judgment,” but those who, along with their experience, are guided by God’s spirit and who have gained understanding of his Word.—Job 32:8, 9; Ps 119:100; Pr 3:5-7; Ec 4:13.
w07 7/15 p. 12 “Wisdom Is for a Protection”
What can be said of a person who has spent a lifetime in the company of wisdom and understanding and ‘has not gone in a way that is not good’? A life spent in the way of righteousness is beautiful in God’s eyes and is deserving of respect. “Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness,” says Proverbs 16:31.
w05 1/15 pp. 8-9 When Old Age Becomes “a Crown of Beauty”
Righteousness as an adornment of old age is also emphasized in the Bible book of Proverbs. There we read: “Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31) Yes, righteousness is a manifestation of inner beauty. Pursuing a righteous course during a long life brings respect. (Leviticus 19:32) Gray hair when accompanied by wisdom and virtue results in honor.—Job 12:12.
To Jehovah, an upright life spent in his service is beautiful. The Scriptures say: “Even to one’s old age I [Jehovah] am the same One; and to one’s gray-headedness I myself shall keep bearing up. I myself shall certainly act, that I myself may carry and that I myself may bear up and furnish escape.” (Isaiah 46:4) How comforting it is to know that our loving heavenly Father promises to sustain and support his loyal ones in their old age!—Psalm 48:14.
Since a life spent in faithful service to Jehovah is beautiful from his standpoint, does it not also merit the respect of others? Reflecting God’s view, we treasure elderly fellow believers. (1 Timothy 5:1, 2) Let us therefore look for practical ways to show Christian love in caring for their needs.
w93 3/15 p. 29 The Splendor of Gray-Headedness
Moreover, a Christian would want to keep in mind that “gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31) A life spent in faithful service to Jehovah is beautiful from his standpoint and merits the respect of others as a good example. Of course, learning about God and acquiring experience “in the way of righteousness” can start early in life and should be a never-ending process.—Romans 11:33, 34.
This can be illustrated by an experience involving a seven-year-old boy in Sweden. He asked the Theocratic Ministry School overseer in the congregation if he might join the school. The overseer asked, “Why?” At that, the youngster responded: “One cannot idle one’s whole life away!” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) What a positive example for young and old alike!
w89 2/1 p. 4 True Beauty—You Can Develop It
The Bible proverb says: “Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31) Righteousness is a facet of inner beauty. If a young man cultivates it, it will still be there when he loses that attractive vigor of youth.
PROVERBS 16:32)
“The one slow to anger is better than a mighty man, And the one controlling his temper than one conquering a city.”
w07 7/15 p. 12 “Wisdom Is for a Protection”
On the other hand, there is nothing beautiful about uncontrolled anger. Adam and Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, “grew hot with great anger” at his brother Abel and ‘proceeded to assault him and kill him.’ (Genesis 4:1, 2, 5, 8) While there may be times when we rightly feel angry, we must be on guard against allowing our anger to get out of control. Proverbs 16:32 clearly states: “He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he that is controlling his spirit than the one capturing a city.” Uncontrolled anger is a sign neither of strength nor of virtue. It is a weakness that can ‘cause one to go in a way that is not good.’
g01 10/22 pp. 13-14 What’s Wrong With Getting Even?
Self-Control—A Sign of Strength!
Mistreatment and injustice are hardly new. One Bible writer gave this advice: “Let anger alone and leave rage; do not show yourself heated up only to do evil.” (Psalm 37:8) Far too often, rage involves a loss of self-control and is expressed without regard for the consequences. Allowing oneself to become “heated up” can result in an explosion of rage! What may result?
Consider the Bible example of Cain and Abel. “Cain grew hot with great anger” at his brother Abel. As a result, “while they were in the field Cain proceeded to assault Abel his brother and kill him.” (Genesis 4:5, 8) Another example of uncontrolled rage involved King Saul. Jealous of the military exploits of young David, he actually threw spears not only at David but also at his own son Jonathan!—1 Samuel 18:11; 19:10; 20:30-34.
True, there are times when it is right to be angry. But even then, righteous indignation can result in evil if it is not controlled. Simeon and Levi, for example, certainly had a right to be angry with Shechem when they learned that he had raped their sister Dinah. But instead of staying calm, they stirred up violent anger, as reflected in their later words: “Ought anyone to treat our sister like a prostitute?” (Genesis 34:31) And when their anger rose to a fever pitch, they “proceeded to take each one his sword and to go unsuspectedly to the city and to kill every male” living in Shechem’s village. Their rage was contagious because “the other sons of Jacob” joined in the murderous attack. (Genesis 34:25-27) Even years later, Simeon and Levi’s father, Jacob, denounced their uncontrolled anger.—Genesis 49:5-7.
From this we learn an important point: Uncontrolled anger is a sign not of strength but of weakness. Proverbs 16:32 states: “He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he that is controlling his spirit than the one capturing a city.”
w87 7/1 p. 5 Managing Anger—Yours and Others’
If, however, we feel anger or have to confront another person’s anger, we should manage it properly so as to preserve our happiness and well-being. How? The Bible tells us: “He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he that is controlling his spirit than the one capturing a city.” (Proverbs 16:32) Instead of hastily deciding to express anger, we should consider the possible outcome of our actions. Counting to ten may prevent us from doing something that we may later regret.—Proverbs 14:17.
PROVERBS 16:33)
“The lot is cast into the lap, But every decision by it is from Jehovah.”
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When ‘Every Decision Is From Jehovah’
“Into the lap the lot is cast down,” says the king of Israel, “but every decision by it is from Jehovah.” (Proverbs 16:33) In ancient Israel, Jehovah at times used lots to make known his will. Lots were pebbles or tablets of wood or of stone. First, an appeal was made to Jehovah for him to decide a matter. Next, the lots were thrown into the folds of a robe and then drawn out. The result was accepted as coming from God.
Jehovah no longer uses lots to inform his people of what he has in mind. He has revealed his will in his Word, the Bible. Accurate knowledge of what is stated in the Bible is fundamental to gaining godly wisdom. Therefore, we should not let a single day go by without reading from the inspired Scriptures.—Psalm 1:1, 2; Matthew 4:4.

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