“A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.”
This is about the restraint of the wise person versus the reckless gossip of the foolish person. Even though they know something, wise people are very careful about sharing what they know. Foolish people, on the other hand, are quick to declare what they think they know. However, in so doing, they actually declare their folly. The Hebrew word here can be translated as “stupidity.”
“The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.”
Wise, hard-working people are the ones who achieve positions of leadership and oversight. The role of lazy people, on the other hand, will be limited to menial tasks because they cannot be trusted with the more challenging work of leading. Laziness and leadership do not mix.
Just a few verses later, Proverbs 12.27 teaches a similar principle: “Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.” Proverbs 10.4 says it this way: “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
As you can see, Proverbs repeatedly emphasizes the importance of a strong work ethic, and warns against the danger of laziness.
“Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
The Hebrew word “anxiety” is deagah, and it means “heaviness in the heart” or “faint-hearted” or “sorrow.” It is a discouraged emotional state that weighs down the heart. It is the mental condition of being disheartened, and it renders a person demoralized, despondent, and even depressed. It is the result of fixating on self and circumstances rather than trusting God and focusing on the mission and tasks to which he has called you.
In contrast to anxiety is gladness, which in Hebrew is samach. It means “joyful, merry of heart, glad.” This proverbs says that the source of samach is “a good word.” That is, the source of gladness of heart is the word of truth spoken into our heart.
This is no casual thing. I don’t want to diminish the importance or value of people offering an encouraging word to friends who are feeling down, but what is being taught here is much more profound and powerful than simply giving encouragement to people. Of course we should encourage people when they are experiencing difficult times.
But I believe what this proverb is teaching is the transforming power of the word of God. It is speaking of the ability of God’s truth and Spirit to energize our hearts with strength and courage in the midst of the difficult and debilitating situations of life in a fallen world. It is reminding us to focus on God’s word and trust the Holy Spirit, especially when we are experiencing challenges and difficulties.
The transforming truth is this: When we fixate on self and circumstances, we experience deagah, and we are discouraged. When we focus on the truth of God’s word and trust his Spirit we experience samach, and we are encouraged.
Even the English words encourage and discourage carry the same message. Encourage means “to give strength of heart.” Discourage means “to take away strength of heart.” The world seeks to take away our strength of heart; the word of God and Spirit of God seek to give us strength of heart.
The variable, then, is what you choose to focus on, the voice you listen to, the message you allow into your heart. “A good word” is of little benefit to you if you don’t listen to it and take it into your heart.
This is why Colossians 3:16-17 says: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Trust God and let his word dwell in you richly. Do not focus on the things of the world and do not listen to the voice of the world. You have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Recognize and walk in that truth.
If someone speaks the word of God to you, take it into your heart.