Proverbs 15

Speech is mentioned 8 times in chapter 15 (1, 2, 4, 7, 14, 23, 26, 28)

The way of the Lord is persuasion, not harsh rejection.

Anger is your decision. 

God listens to the heart, not to the voice.

We often sin in our speaking.

The wise are consistent.  Fools are inconsistent.

Good works are like prayer and praise to God.

Set limits on your desires so that you remain in control.

A simple life with love is preferred to extravagance with out relationships.

Chrysostom says: Pleasure is not found in abundance but abundance is found in pleasure.

Denial of God is the greatest evil.

The lazy man’s life seems entangled with thorns and blocked by barricades.

The person who rejects instruction hates himself and is the enemy of his own soul.


1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Jesus ministry is an example of gentleness.


Isaiah prophesied of Jesus when he said:

            “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will            
            bring justice to the nations.  He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not                                               break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.  In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or        

            be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.  In his law the islands will put their hope.” (Isaiah 42:1-4 quoted            

            in Matthew 12 17-21 in fulfillment of  “Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them               

            not to tell who he was.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah. . .”


It is our decision before we respond.  Will we respond in anger or try to soothe the situation?  It is our choice.

We are warned in this chapter about when to be gentle with our words, but also, silent, cautious and to speak at the right time.


2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

(Living Bible: A wise teacher makes learning a joy; a rebellious teacher spouts foolishness.)

Our words have the influence of good or evil on others.

Verse 4 indicates that we can either sustain or break a person with our words. 

The word “commends” is literally “does well”. 

“Does well” (“commends”)  means to do a thing well

            a) “walk finely in Pr. 30:29

            b) “play skillfully in Ezekiel 33:32

If one Hebrew letter is adjusted the word “commends” becomes possibly the original word “drips”.  Not likely.


3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

We would never want to approach God without the proper respect.  Yet, the presence of God is everywhere.

We should live as if we were walking into God’s presence.


“Everywhere” refers to more than geographical locations.  The Lord is not only perceiving what we do and say.

To say the Lord is everywhere is to say he perceives our hearts.  He hears our attitudes.  He listens to our daily meditations whatever they may be.


The prophet Hanani told Asa -

            “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chr. 16:9)


4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life,  but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

(Living Bible: Gentle words cause life and health; griping brings discouragement.)

James says, “No man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

The man who controls is tongue is the man who is himself under the control of the Spirit of God.

Our words can sustain the weary and heal the broken or our words can crush the person.

A person who has been deceived is left crushed.  What they had hoped for is no longer a reality.

“Deceitful” is the quality of the treacherous and implies that which is twisted or false.


5 A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

(Living Bible: Only a fool despises his father’s advice; a wise son considers each suggestion.)

A child’s attitude toward parental teaching will determine their lifelong attitude toward:
            a)  authority

            b) instruction


6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings them trouble.

(Living Bible: There is treasure in being good, but trouble dogs the wicked.)

The word “trouble” is used in situations where one man brings calamity on many.

Achan in Joshua 7 and again in 1 Chronicles 2:7


7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge;  not so the hearts of fools.

(Living Bible: Only the good can give good advice.  Rebels can’t.)

Notice the correlation between lips and hearts.

What comes out of the lips comes from the heart.

Jesus explained this in Luke 6: 43-45.  In those verses he said,

            “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of this heart his mouth speaks.”


8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked,  but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

Verses 8 and 9 can go together to describe true righteousness.

Verse 8 refers to Israel.  Verse 9 is for the nations.

Righteousness is not  found only in:

            a)  religious rituals and works (verse 8)

            b) lifestyles and deeds (verse 9)

Righteousness before God is found in honest integrity:

            a) prayer (verse 8)

            b) pursuit of righteous lifestyle (verse 9)

Religious zeal is no substitute for religious integrity.

Amos 5:21-24, God says,

            “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.  Even though you bring me burnt offerings and

            grain offerings, I will not accept them.   Though you bring choice fellow ship offerings, I will have no regard for them. .

            Away with the noise of your    songs!  I will not listen to the music of your harps.  But let justice roll on like  river,                           

            righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Micah 6:6-8,

            “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
            with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I offer my firstborn for my                      transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?           
            To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”


9 The LORD detests the way of the wicked but he loves those who pursue righteousness.

(L.B. verses 9  and 10: The Lord despise the deeds of the wicked, but loves those who try to be good.

If they stop trying, the Lord will punish them; if they rebel against that punishment, they will die.)

This verse is the Gentile version of the proverb for the Jew in the previous verse.


10 Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die.

“Discipline” and “Correction” are good and necessary to maintain life and to walk in God’s ways.

This verse captures the process.   

            1) The stern discipline for leaving the path often hardens the heart and leads to the second level

            2) The hardened heart then is destroyed.


11 Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD—how much more the hearts of men!

lie open” are not in the Hebrew text.  Neither is “are” in the King James.

Hebrew says, “Death and Destruction before the Lord”

“Death” is “Sheol” (“hades” in Greek”)

“Destruction” is “Abaddon  and comes from the Hebrew word “perish” and means “destruction”

This is a reference to the place of torment in Hades.  Abaddon (the place where men perish) in Sheol, the place of

            the dead.


12 A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.

The mocker is locked in his own little world with his doomed attitude and viewpoint that prevent him from coming           
            in contact with the reality where the wise live.

13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

The point is that the thoughts and attitudes control the face and the spirit, not circumstances.

You can overcome the crushing blows of a circumstance from your heart, your soul, your mind.


14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

(L.B.: A wise man is hungry for truth, while the mocker feeds on trash.)


15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

(L.B.: When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong; when he is cheerful, everything seems right!)

A man may be oppressed on the outside and let that oppression penetrate his soul.  All of his days are oppressed.

Another man may also be oppressed on the outside, but because of his cheerful heart (his view

            of life, relationship with God, attitude, disposition) he is never oppressed in his soul. 

            All the days of his life are a continual feast.

You may be oppressed on the outside, but you can control your soul. 

You are the king and your soul is your kingdom.  Guard your kingdom.  Guard your soul.

            1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

            Philippians 4:7, “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

            1 Timothy 6:20, “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely               called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.”
            2 Timothy 1:14, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

            Luke 12:1, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

            Luke 12:15, “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;  a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”


16 Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.

Everything has its reasonable limits.

Everything has its price.

To have what you need and to have the fear of the Lord is better than:

            a)  great wealth and the turmoil of not being able to handle it.  (People are talented and gifted for their

                        place in life and in the church.   If you are not talented or gifted to manage great wealth it will be a head ache.  Live within your ability               and spend within your means.

            b)  wealth at any level without the fear of the Lord.


17 Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

The comparison is vegetables with meat and love with hate.

If you had to be short on one or the other it is better to be short on meat and feasting than to be short on love and relationships.


18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.


19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.

“Thorns” is actually “thorn hedge”

The sluggard is contrasted with the upright because a sluggard is lazy and so deceitful.


20 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

foolish man” is “a fool of a man”


21 Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.

(L.B.: If a man enjoys folly, something is wrong!  The sensible stay on the pathways of right.)


22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

This verse is not referring to making all decisions by a committee.

This verse is teaching us to have a willingness to hear and heed advice.


23 A man finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!

(L.B.: Everyone enjoys giving good advice, and how wonderful it is to be able to say the right thing at the right time!)

Ancient Egyptian writings contain the parable: 

            “Do not say something when it is not the time for it.”

Remember God’s eternal wisdom is crying out in the streets to all men, at all times, in all nations.


24 The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep him from going down to the grave.

(L.B.: The road of the godly leads upward, leaving hell behind.)

The adverbs “upward” and “down” are not referring to eternal life or eternal destinies.

“Upward” and “down” are referring to the quality of life.


25 The LORD tears down the proud man's house but he keeps the widow's boundaries intact.


26 The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him.

(NAS: Evil plans are an abomination to the Lord, But pleasant words are pure.)

This verse should be translated:

            “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to Yahweh, but kind words are clean.”

“Abomination” (NIV “detests”) and “clean” (NIV “pleasing”) are terms from the Levitical law referring to sacrifices and other activities or objects in the   temple (or, tabernacle)

You can see the interpretation by the NIV authors and thus their translation.


Notice the correct Hebrew translation addresses “thoughts” in the first half of the verse but “words” in the second half.   

It is impossible to have  clean” word without first having a “clean” thought.  The wicked person’s apparently “clean” words are judged even when they     were still thoughts.

Our thoughts and words are either an acceptable  sacrifice before God, or else they are an abomination and detested by God as a blasphemous sacrilege.


27 A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.

Bribes and greed go together.

To get what he wants the greedy man will use bribes to manipulate people. 

Bribes and greed of a man cause him death and trouble to him and his family.


28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

(L.B.: A good man thinks before he speaks; the evil man pours out his evil words without a thought.)

The righteous are wise and consider what they say before they speak.  These words are honest and beneficial.

The wicked fool does not think, but rashly speaks pouring out unrighteous words of destruction.


29 The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.


30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

(L.B.: Pleasant sights and good reports give happiness and health.)

“Cheerful look” is literally “light of the eyes” refers both to the speaker and the hearer.


31 He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.

(L.B. verses 31 & 32:  If you profit from constructive criticism you will be elected to the wise men’s hall of fame.  But to reject criticism is to harm yourself and your own best interests.)

Literally, “an ear that hears a reproof of life.”

If a parent/teacher/wise man has a child’s/student’s/simpleton’s ear they have their heart.  There is hope.

A listening ear is the doorway into the abode of the wise.  It is the most important step into fellowship with wisdom.


32 He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.

This intensifies the motivation to listen to a “life-giving rebuke.”


33 The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
(L.B.: Humility and reverence for the Lord will make you both wise and honored.)

How can we describe true righteousness?

            a)  Fear of the Lord

            b)  Humility

Righteousness is more about motives than the actual deeds.

Chapter 16: 1-5 continues this thought.

“Teaches a man wisdom” is literally, “discipline of wisdom” and means “leads to wisdom.”

To fulfill verses 31 and 32 you must first fear the Lord or else instruction, rebuke and discipline

            make no sense to you.

Humility before the Lord is the correct place to begin learning.

The Hebrew word for “humble” is a religious term for the quality of renouncing one’s own personal sufficiency for life and committing oneself to the Lord. 

“Humble” is from a root word that meant “to be bowed down,” “to be oppressed.”

The idea in the word is that when “the oppression” and “the bowing down” is over, the man

            is humble (broken, crushed) before the Lord and ready to receive his instruction and so become the wise man. 


This humility always comes before the ultimate honor.

The sequence of events for a man would be this:

            1) Pride in his natural state

            2) Oppressed inside and without in a variety of ways

            3) Humbled before God; broken and no longer self sufficient

            4) Wisdom is revealed to the humble man and he thinks in line with God and not against

            5) Honor is given to this man

If you grant yourself no glory then God can teach you and you will be crowned with glory.