Proverbs 15


In the last chapter Solomon finished by speaking about the dangers of anger, He continues this theme here in this chapter.

Be Careful What And How You Speak

‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.’ Proverbs 15:1-4

Why do angry people very seldom get answers to the questions they might have? All too often angry people are just looking for an excuse to disagree with someone. They aren’t really looking for answers.

No matter who is asking the question, an answer needs to be given, but it just needs to be a gentle answer, Judges 8:1-3.

Have you ever seen anyone who has a wound where the blood is just gushing out? I remember when I worked in a residential home and one elderly lady’s womb was flowing with blood, the inside of her womb started to come out and it was almost impossible to stop the blood from flowing.

Solomon says that’s what fools are like, when they speak, they just speak absolute rubbish, nonsense, it just flows through their lips, 1 Kings 12:1-16.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This is very difficult to know: when to speak, and when to be silent; what to speak, and what to leave unspoken; the manner that is best and most suitable to the occasion, the subject, the circumstances, and the persons. Even wise counsel may be foolishly given.’

In the world we’re living in it seems as though evil and evil intention is winning and those who practice evil look like they are going to get away with their actions, but they need to remember that God sees everything, Ecclesiastes 12:14 / Hebrews 4:13 / Revelation 1:14.

The tree of life, Genesis 2:8-17, provides a balm and comfort, Revelation 22:1-2. This is what a Christian’s words should do, they should bring comfort and healing to those who are listening.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The tongue is a prolific tree, and it concerns the whole community that it should be a tree of life and not of death.’

Some people may think that just because they have never raised their hands to someone, they are better than someone who shouts at someone, but when you think about it, it is no better to assault one verbally, James 3:2-12.

‘A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.’ Proverbs 15:5

Solomon is basically saying that there are some people who hate learning wisdom, especially children, but then there are others who love to learn to be wise.

‘The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin.’ Proverbs 15:6

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘In a good man’s house there is ample treasure, but revenues of bad men go to wreck.’ We prefer this rendition, because ‘ample’ signifies sufficiency rather than ‘riches.’ A little is often sufficient in the house of good people; and it is always preferable to great riches in a house of wickedness. See verses 16-17, which are parallel with this verse.’

What treasure do we have as Christians and where is it stored? The Christian’s treasure is stored in heaven where nobody can steal them, Mathew 6:19-21 / 1 Peter 1:3-4. The wicked however, is only concerned with their own selfish treasures, Psalms 17:14.

‘The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright. The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.’ Proverbs 15:7-8

This is one of the few proverbs that deal with worship, 1 Samuel 15:22.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The concept of the ‘foolish’ in Proverbs (and the whole Bible) is not mere intellectual dullness, but wickedness. The rich ‘fool’ of Luke 12:20 might very well have been a graduate of the state university; and the foolish virgins, Matthew 25:2ff, might have included the valedictorian of the local high school!’

The world needs to remember that it is God who determines where, when and how we worship, Psalm 51:16-17 / Psalm 66:1-4 / Genesis 4:4-10 / John 4:23.

‘The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness. Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path; the one who hates correction will die. Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD—how much more do human hearts! Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise. A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.’ Proverbs 15:9-13

There’s a lesson here which is often overlooked and that is just because someone dies doesn’t mean that their sins die with them. Sometimes the effect of people’s sin can go on for a long time, even after when the person who commits the sin dies.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following concerning verse 11.

‘This confirms what was said, Proverbs 15:3; Proverbs 15:3, concerning God’s omnipresence, in order to his judging of evil and good. 1. God knows all things, even those things that are hidden from the eyes of all living: Hell and destruction are before the Lord, not only the centre of the earth, and its subterraneous caverns, but the grave, and all the dead bodies which are there buried out of our sight; they are all before the Lord, all under his eye, so that none of them can be lost or be to seek when they are to be raised again. He knows where every man lies buried, even Moses, even those that are buried in the greatest obscurity; nor needs he any monument with a Hic jacet–Here he lies, to direct him. The place of the damned in particular, and all their torments, which are inexpressible, the state of separate souls in general, and all their circumstances, are under God’s eye. The word here used for destruction is Abaddon, which is one of the devil’s names, Revelation 9:11. That destroyer, though he deceives us, cannot evade or elude the divine cognizance. God examines him whence he comes, Job 1:7, and sees through all his disguises though he is sly, and subtle, and swift, Job 26:6. 2. He knows particularly the hearts of the children of men. If he sees through the depths and wiles of Satan himself, much more can he search men’s hearts, though they be deceitful, since they learned all their fraudulent arts of Satan. God is greater than our hearts, and knows them better than we know them ourselves, and therefore is an infallible Judge of every man’s character, Hebrews 4:13.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The word Abaddon occurs six times in the Old Testament, and like the word Sheol, is a place name for the realm of the dead.’

These verses also show how happiness can arise from within a person while verse 13, shows the same thing from without, Proverbs 17:22.

‘The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.’ Proverbs 15:14-17

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Here are two things to be wondered at: 1. A wise man not satisfied with his wisdom, but still seeking the increase of it; the more he has the more he would have: The heart of him that has understanding, rejoices so in the knowledge it has attained to that it is still coveting more, and in the use of the means of knowledge is still labouring for more, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ. Si dixisti, Sufficit, periisti–If you say, I have enough, you are undone. 2. A fool well satisfied with his folly and not seeking the cure of it. While a good man hungers after the solid satisfactions of grace, a carnal mind feasts on the gratifications of appetite and fancy. Vain mirth and sensual pleasures are its delight, and with these it can rest contented, flattering itself in these foolish ways.’

There’s a lot of talk about healthy eating in our society today, but wouldn’t it be better for society if it focused on having healthy minds? The things we read, the music we listen to, the films we watch etc.

A lot of the mess we get ourselves into is our own doing. We need to learn to be happy and content, Philippians 4:11-13 / Hebrews 13:5 / 1 Timothy 6:6-10. It’s all about our attitude towards situations, 1 Timothy 6:6.

Just because people eat good food doesn’t necessarily mean that there is love in the house, Ecclesiastes 5:17 / Job 21:25. This has been proven true so many times, yet couples still do things that undermine the marriage while increasing their wealth, i.e. two jobs, etc.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning verse 17.

‘Who could miss the point here? ‘Better a dish of vegetables with love, than the best beef served with hatred.’ A preacher said, “It’s better to have a hamburger at McDonalds with someone who loves you than to be entertained at the Waldorf by someone who hates you.’

‘A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.’ Proverbs 15:18

The vocabulary of this verse suggests excessive litigation and legal action. The man who is quick to say, ‘I will sue you’, is trouble in any community. Patience is the key, Psalm 37:7-9 / Matthew 5:9.

‘The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway. A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother. Folly brings joy to one who has no sense, but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course. Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.’ Proverbs 15:19-22

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Because he is slothful, he imagines ten thousand difficulties in the way which cannot be surmounted; but they are all the creatures of his own imagination, and that imagination is formed by his sloth.’

Some people just can’t see anything but straight ahead and that’s because they have closed their minds to any other road on their journey. It is a sign of wisdom to seek advice and it will usually prove to be a good choice, Proverbs 12:15 / Proverbs 13:10.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following, concerning verse 22.

‘See here, 1. Of what ill consequence it is to be precipitate and rash, and to act without advice: Men’s purposes are disappointed, their measures broken, and they come short of their point, gain not their end, because they would not ask counsel about the way. If men will not take time and pains to deliberate with themselves, or are so confident of their own judgment that they scorn to consult with others, they are not likely to bring any thing considerable to pass; circumstances defeat them which, with a little consultation, might have been foreseen and obviated. It is a good rule, both in public and domestic affairs, to do nothing rashly and of one’s own head. Plus vident oculi quam oculus–Many eyes see more than one. That often proves best which was least our own doing. 2. How much it will be for our advantage to ask the advice of our friends: In the multitude of counsellors (provided they be discreet and honest, and will not give counsel with a spirit of contradiction) purposes are established. Solomon’s son made no good use of this proverb when he acquiesced not in the counsel of the old men, but because he would have a multitude of counsellors, regarding number more than weight, advised with the young men.’

‘A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!’ Proverbs 15:23

As Christians we often think we have the answer to most questions in life, Solomon is saying that it’s not so much what you say to someone which is important but how you say it, Colossians 4:6 / 1 Peter 3:15.

‘The path of life leads upward for the prudent to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead. The LORD tears down the house of the proud, but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place.’ Proverbs 15:24-25

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘ There is a treble antithesis here: 1. The way of the wise, and that of the fool. 2. The one is above, the other below. 3. The one is of life, the other is of death.’

The Lord is the protector of those who needs His protection, He protects us from the wicked and powerful land-grabbers, Proverbs 16:18 / 1 Corinthians 10:12. The proud will always go against the Lord, James 4:6 / 1 Peter 5:5.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following concerning verse 25.

‘The background of this is the partition of the promised land among the various tribes as their perpetual inheritance. The magnificent palaces of the proud, which are, in fact, monuments to their pride and arrogance are eventually destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar gloried in ‘Great Babylon which I have built’; but God drove him away to live with wild beasts for seven years; and at last Babylon itself was so deeply buried under the dust of centuries that the very site is uncertain.’

‘The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in his sight. The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live. The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.’ Proverbs 15:26-28

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The former part of this verse speaks of thoughts, the latter of words, but they come all to one; for thoughts are words to God, and words are judged of by the thoughts from which they proceed, so that, 1. The thoughts and words of the wicked, which are, like themselves, wicked, which aim at mischief, and have some ill tendency or other, are an abomination to the Lord; he is displeased at them and will reckon for them. The thoughts of wicked men, for the most part, are such as God hates, and are an offence to him, who not only knows the heart and all that passes and repasses there, but requires the innermost and uppermost place in it. 2. The thoughts and words of the pure, being pure like themselves, clean, honest, and sincere, are pleasant words and pleasant thoughts, well-pleasing to the holy God, who delights in purity. It may be understood both of their devotions to God (the words of their mouth and the meditations of their heart, in prayer and praise, are acceptable to God, Psalms 19:14 / Psalms 69:13) and of their discourses with men, tending to edification. Both are pleasant when they come from a pure, a purified, heart.’

Clarke, in his commentary says the following.

‘He who will be rich; troubleth his own house-he is a torment to himself and his family by his avariciousness and penury, and a curse to those with whom he deals.’

Here again, we’re reminded to think before we speak. We need to think about our answers before we give one because the words, we speak will affect people, Colossians 4:6 / 1 Peter 3:15.

‘The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.’ Proverbs 15:29-30

While the lord as far from the wicked, He is near to the righteous. God hears and answers our prayers, James 4:8 / James 5:16.

Light eyes or bright eyes refer to those with a positive outlook, Matthew 6:22-23. Someone with a friendly face or someone who brings good news can make almost anyone feel good inside, Proverbs 16:15 / Romans 10:15.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Nature and art are continually placing before our view a multitude of the most resplendent images, each of which is calculated to give pleasure. The man who has a correct judgment, and an accurate eye, may not only amuse, but instruct himself endlessly, by the beauties of nature and art.’

‘Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.’ Proverbs 15:31-32

Does anyone like being told off? No one likes to be told off but sometimes it is for our own good, sometimes it can be life-giving. The person who neglects discipline harms themselves most of all.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘That receives it gratefully and obeys it. ‘Advice is for them that will take it,’ so says one of our own old proverbs; and the meaning here is nearly the same.’

‘Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honour.’ Proverbs 15:33

Here again, Solomon reminds us that humility is important, Philippians 2:3-8 / 1 Peter 5:6, and that wisdom is for a purpose, it is to fear the Lord, Proverbs 1:7 / Proverbs 10:27 / Proverbs 19:23.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Much is spoken concerning this fear; 1. It is the beginning of wisdom. 2. It is also the beginning of knowledge. And, 3. It is the instruction of wisdom. Wisdom derives its most important lessons from the fear of God. He who fears God much, is well taught.’

‘Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so, do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.’ Job 5:17

Go To Proverbs 16