“The theme of the relationship of the individual to the community, especially through the use of words, runs through these proverbs but they are not a carefully structured cluster” (Lucas, 98).
Today I will be focusing on verses 10 and 11.
Proverbs 11:10-11 – Let the People Rejoice!
“Both vv. 10 and 11 are concerned with the benefits which the righteous bring to a community, specified as a city” (Lucas, 98).
|V. 10||When||It goes well||With the righteous||The city||Rejoices|
|BUT When||perish||The wicked||[in the city]||There is Joyful shouting|
“Fellowship provides a context for human choices and affirms their importance. Our actions, like pebbles tossed in the pond, send ripples or even waves of influence into the lives of others. The level of gladness or grief of our parents is largely determined by our behavior (10:1). So are the welfare and morale of the city.. …. The larger community also benefits from our comportment, rejoicing when the righteous thrive, whose love and thoughtfulness are appreciated, shouting when the wicked collapse (‘perish’) in the endeavors which are wrought in selfishness, greed, and malice” (Hubbard, 146).
The good city does not resent the prosperity of the righteous. In fact, they benefit from it. And so they should rejoice.
“Are you the kind of person, and is your church the kind of church, about which others in your community might say, ‘I don’t share their beliefs, but I shudder to think about what this city would be like without them’?” (Keller, 328).
|V. 11||By the||blessing||Of the upright||A city||Is exalted|
|BUT By the||mouth||Of the wicked||It [a city]||Is torn down|
The city rejoices in the righteous and upright person (v. 10) because they bless the city with their words and actions (v. 11).
“… the parallel between ‘blessing’ and ‘mouth’ may indicate that it is particularly the prayers and counsel of the upright that are implied” (Lucas, 98).
“‘The mouth of the wicked’ does not have to engage in espionage and the selling of secrets to an enemy to do this [i.e., to overthrow the morale and stability of a whole town]. It can counter the ‘blessing of the upright,’ which is the result of good deeds for and good wishes to others, by doing the opposite: bad-mouthing the leaders, misleading the population, and predicting calamity for the community” (Hubbard, 224).
What is your mouth doing in your city? Do you pray for your city? Are you like me – one who needs to learn more about his city so that I might more effectively pray into its issues?
Part of the Nature of Proverbs
In part, I chose to focus on these verses because it shows that not all situations work perfectly for every proverb. This is part of the nature of Proverbs.
“Proverbs have limits. Their very literary form means that they overstate or oversimplify. They carry no fine print, no footnotes, no lists of exceptions. That is why we need so many of them. We need both ‘haste makes waste’ and ‘He who hesitates is lost.’ Each is precisely true in certain situations; neither is true in every circumstance. Knowing when and where to use them is part of wisdom” (Hubbard, 23).
Lucas puts it this way:
“In expressing ‘the way things are’ proverbs are observations, not laws. They are describing the norm, not prescribing what must always happen or expressing the inevitable. Life and humans are too complex for a brief sentence to sum up all the truth about a given situation. Those who are wise will use proverbs with due discretion” (Lucas, 27).
For instance, you won’t see this happening in every city. In fact, that is the type of situation the Ecclesiastes tends to speak into more – the fringe situations where the regular rules of Wisdom don’t seem to apply because the city is not healthy. At least, this is my intuition.
The healthy and righteous city will be able to recognize the righteous; they will be able to see what is good and how goodness benefits them. And so they will rejoice in them. A city filled with wicked people will not celebrate righteousness, but will “heartily approve” (Romans 1:32) of the wicked – think of Nazareth or Jerusalem in Jesus’ time or of Sodom and Gomorrah and how they wanted to treat Lot and his divine guests.
Therefore, these proverbs function as a warning to the righteous living in an ungodly place as well as giving them a vision for building up their city and caring for it.
Questions to Pray Through
What does my city celebrate? Could I encourage my city to celebrate righteousness? What could I do? Do I seek to benefit my city, my community, my church?
Do I regularly pray for my city and community?
How do I nurture fellowship?
What is my motivation for blessing others? What is the source of my energy? Do others praise God because of me?
Lord, how can I be a blessing to my neighbours on a more consistent basis?
Lord, where do I need to repent of my words which have torn others down?
Perhaps the Lord is leading you to some other prayers or applications – take the time to seek Him on these important matters.