“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever follows perverse ways will be found out.”
~Proverbs 10:9 (NRSV).
The commencement of the Wise Sayings of Solomon don’t depart really one iota in theme from the foregoing but the structure shifts markedly.
What marks the first fourteen verses of Proverbs 10 is irrevocably the theme of honesty—the straightforwardness of plain, unadulterated virtue. Placed in terms of contrastive proverbs showing a juxtaposed “but” these initial proverbs make plain what we all need to know about life.
Life is best lived plainly without reprise to ‘the common complication’. This common complication is the lie, which we’re all (more of less) routinely apt at plying.
Fifty-Nine or Fewer
Bill Hybels states in his book, Making Life Work: Putting God’s Wisdom into Action, that characteristically every sixtieth thing we say is a lie. For every conversation we have we’re one closer to that lie—statistics say.
This lends great credibility to the proverb:
“The more talk, the less truth;
the wise measure their words.”
~Proverbs 10:19 (Msg).
Whether honesty comes in the form of the spoken word or via the compilation of our acts—deeds promised but not kept—matters little, but one obvious way we’re dishonest is via the way we use our tongues, for the tongue is merely the hands and feet of the heart. We do best to recognise that we have the propensity to speak non-truth with our (many) words.
Peace is Found in the Commitment to Honesty and Truth
Decisiveness is peace as is the commitment to broach only what we see, with little acting on innuendo or assumptions.
Making decisions only in the presence of fact—as far as that’s achievable—is a sure-fire method for gaining and retaining our much sought-after wellbeing. This is through congruence of heart and mind; the mind not having to deal with the dissonance that always comes from betraying the truth (for those without a seared conscience).
Further Benefits of the Wisdom in Honesty
Charting the gauge, then, of the blessings accorded to the honest person we find they hold for themselves a worthy reputation and their credibility is never in question for long (verse 7). They leave a lasting legacy. Their lips contain not only knowledge, but trustworthy knowledge (verse 13).
The purveyor of truth is contained within God’s provision—they toil honestly, earning their keep (verses 3-5). They’ve satisfied their parents and have vindicated the parent’s faith, and do not cause their parents ongoing excessive grief (verse 1). They have a conscience for these things. Finally, the honest person is teachable, honest as they are about what they know and don’t know (verse 8). With learning new things comes wisdom.
Consequences Both for the Honest and Deceitful
The distinct comparison between these two leaves us under no false impression.
The honest will be blessed with safety, provision, blessing and further trust. The deceitful, on the other hand, will receive grief themselves for the grief they inflict upon others.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.