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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 11
The Lord detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favor with him.
but with humility comes wisdom.
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
but righteousness delivers from death.
but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.
but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
all the promise of their power comes to nothing.
and it falls on the wicked instead.
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
but victory is won through many advisers.
but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.
but ruthless men gain only wealth.
but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.
but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
but whoever pursues evil finds death.
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
but those who are righteous will go free.
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
but evil comes to one who searches for it.
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
and the fool will be servant to the wise.
and the one who is wise saves lives.
how much more the ungodly and the sinner!
Proverbs 11 is a continuation in Solomon’s study of contrasts between the righteous and the wicked. Like a metronome clicking back and forth, the two opposite paths are described. What becomes clear is that wickedness is unlimited in its ability to bring destruction wherever it is fed. While the wicked man may find short term gains, ultimately “he who pursues evil will bring about his own death”. In other words, those who pursue evil will find themselves pursued by evil. The traps set for others will ensnare their own feet. Righteous or wicked, you get whatever you put into the world.
This idea could easily be conflated with the concept of karma–that those who do good will receive what is good, and those who do bad will receive what is bad. Yet, this Proverb is more so an observation in practicalities. Wickedness is a poison wherever it appears, whether that be in families (v. 29), business (v. 6), neighborhoods (v. 9), leadership (v. 14), or any other area of our lives. Wickedness is a destroyer, and thus brings destruction to whoever wields it. This proverb, like many others that we will read in the days to come, is trying to paint us a full picture of what the righteous life (and the wicked life) really looks like.
In the same way, the one who walks upright with the Lord brings life wherever he goes. The choice seems obvious, but the reality is that living righteously is frustrating and difficult. Like the metronome, we click back and forth between living as the righteous and the wicked. We feel caught between what the Spirit is calling us to do and what our flesh is pulling us towards. We are not alone in this struggle. Paul wrote in Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Therefore, we must rely on Christ daily to guide us into wisdom and righteousness.
- As you read through the contrasts, which ones do you identify with the most at this time in life?
- Re-read verses 19-20. How does God view the righteous and the wicked?
- Consider verse 22. Does this feel out of place? How does it connect to the rest of the ideas in this chapter?
Pastor and author Tim Keller says this about the righteous and the wicked in Proverbs 11:
“The righteous in the book of Proverbs are by definition those who are willing to disadvantage themselves for the community while the wicked are those who put their own economic, social, and personal needs ahead of the needs of the community.”
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