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Explaining Certain Biblical Proverbs :: A Hermeneutical Experiment

Knowing that the proverbs are not intended as absolutes but relative observational/experiential “wisdom,” the following is a snapshot of my naked and knee-jerk western, Christian interpretation of the proverbs I read in the Bible.  I have done this without the aid of study tools, and would be gladly corrected by those who have read informed and scholarly commentary or understand the Proverbs differently.  Without such aids, however, this is my hermeneutical tendency.  NOTE: I would also gladly agree that for anything touching on righteousness, Christ is intended as the “ultimate fulfillment” of such righteousness.  I have offered an example of how this might work in Proverbs 10:2.


Proverbs 10:1—“The proverbs of Solomon”

[this probably means Solomon collected these proverbs during his lifetime, not necessarily that he originated all of them]

Proverbs 10:2—“Ill gotten gains do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.”

[this probably underscores the deleterious nature of ill gotten gains, and the deep risk they involve, while also highlighting how the lifestyle of the righteous can often be the cause of their escaping execution/capital punishment by not being caught up in scandals or dishonest activity.  EXAMPLE OF HOW CHRIST MIGHT “FULFILL” THE PROVERBS: Christ would be the ultimate fulfillment of this, since his refusal to be caught up in temptations of the Devil caused him to deliver both himself and the church from the ultimate death, the second death, and has delivered them from the sting of death by accomplishing resurrection unto glory for himself and his body, the church]

Proverbs 10:7—“The memory of the righteous is blessed.”

[this means that the memory of righteous persons after their death is impressionable enough to leave a pleasant and honoring effect in the hearts of those who knew them]

Proverbs 10:9—“He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.”

[this is probably a warning to those who pursue “ill gotten gains” that they constantly risk getting caught and punished with severe consequences.  NOTE: This should be enough to make those who pervert their ways naturally live in the constant anxiety of fear, NOTE: their conscience is never at peace anyway]

Proverbs 10:11—“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.”

[This probably means that those who live a righteous lifestyle have the ability (to lesser and greater extents) to impart helpful wisdom and inspiration to others through their ability to speak wisdom, give advise, articulate their perspective, and encourage others to live righteously]

Proverbs 10:12—“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.”

[This probably means that when a person hates another, they will find reasons to vent this anger and any small matter of conflict will become a contentious occasion.  They will even find petty reasons to argue and cause conflict, and you will be walking on egg shells around them.  Love works in the opposite way.  When you love someone, you find reasons to excuse matters of disagreement and conflict and find ways to overcome them.  You find ways to overlook or downplay their weaknesses and have a tendency to forgive their mistakes and sins against you due to your strong love of them.  NOTE: Neither principle is absolute, but relative.]

Proverbs 10:19—“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”

[This probably just means that people who talk excessively usually have sinful attitudes and their abundance of words is usually owing to pride of opinion, self-absorption, or some other sinful root cause.  People who are righteous choose their words carefully and often hold back their opinion and perspective out of courtesy, consideration of another’s time, desire to avoid having a unnecessary disagreement that would cause tension in a relationship, or any other number of virtuous causes or motives]

Proverbs 10:20—“The heart of the wicked is worth little.”

[This probably means that the ontological core of people whose loves are selfishly oriented (and therefore not having to do with the things of God) is not pleasing to, or valued by, God]

Proverbs 10:23—“Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool and so is wisdom to a man of understanding.”

[This means that the wicked actually practice and strive to get better at their evil endeavors, and the wise likewise practice and strive to get better at righteousness]

Proverbs 10:27—“The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.”

[this probably means that wicked people have more destructive habits in their life, and thus, all things being equal, are more prone to death.  Those who have a healthy fear of the LORD and his commands tend to have less destructive habits in their life, and thus, all things being equal, are less prone to death]

Proverbs 10:28—“The hope of the righteous is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked perishes.”

[This probably just underscores how the righteous have their hopes set on spiritual happiness in God and love of neighbor, while wicked people have their hopes set on things that will not ultimately fulfill the fullness of their spiritual core–e.g. material things, vain things, selfish things, revengeful things, etc.]

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