Proverbs 18

Chapter 18

The Words of the Mouth[a]

1 Someone who lives alone seeks only to fulfill his desires
and ignores the advice of others.
2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding
but only delights in expressing his own opinions.
3 When wickedness comes, it is accompanied by contempt,
and with dishonor comes disgrace.
4 The words of the mouth are turbulent waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a flowing brook.
5 It is not right to show partiality[b] to the guilty
or to deprive the innocent of a just judgment.
6 The lips of a fool cause strife,
and his mouth provokes a flogging.
7 The mouth of a fool leads to his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his very life.[c]
8 The whispers of a gossiper are tasty morsels
that corrode one’s inner being.
9 Anyone who is lazy in his work
is a brother to the man who wages destruction.
10 [d]The name of the Lord is a tower of strength;
the upright man runs to it and finds refuge.
11 The wealth of a rich man is his stronghold;
he regards it as a high wall that cannot be scaled.
12 A man is haughty until disaster overtakes him,
but humility comes before honors.
13 One who answers before listening
exposes his folly and incurs shame.
14 A man’s spirit can manage to endure sickness,
but when the spirit is crushed, who can bear it?
15 A discerning mind gains knowledge,
and the ears of the wise eagerly seek knowledge.
16 A gift opens doors for the giver
and wins him access to the powerful.
17 The one who pleads his case first will seem right
until his opponent comes forth to interrogate him.[e]
18 Casting lots[f] can settle disputes
and avoid contention between powerful rivals.
19 An offended brother is stronger than a fortress,
and quarrels are more difficult to overcome than castle gates.
20 From the fruit of the mouth one’s stomach is filled;
contentment is gained from the yield of one’s lips.
21 The tongue has the power over life and death;[g]
those who cherish it will enjoy its fruits.
22 One who finds a wife finds happiness
and receives favor from the Lord.[h]
23 A poor man uses language of entreaty,
but the rich man replies with insults.
24 Some friends can lead us to ruin,
but a true friend is closer than a brother.


  1. Proverbs 18:1 In this sparse series of sayings, whose themes are now familiar to the reader, a few reflections stand out, e.g., concerning the danger of the human word and the difficulty of the righteous during a trial. Once again we note the unfavorable state of the poor (v. 23).
  2. Proverbs 18:5 Partiality toward anyone was condemned in the law (see Lev 19:15; Deut 1:17; 16:19).
  3. Proverbs 18:7 One who cannot curb his tongue is a fool (see Jas 3), for it is through our words that we are justified or condemned (see Mt 12:37). Our speech should always be seasoned with salt so that we may know how to respond to each person (see Col 4:6).
  4. Proverbs 18:10 In the struggle of life the faithful find support and refuge in the Lord, while the foolish put their trust in their wealth. Name of the Lord: the name stands for the person since it expresses his nature and qualities (see note on Ex 3:13-15). Tower: towers were the only safe places against robbers and enemies. The wealth . . . stronghold: same as Prov 10:15 (see note there). Cannot be scaled: unscalable for humans but not for God (see Isa 25:12).
  5. Proverbs 18:17 This verse can apply to many situations, but it can also be interpreted as being directed toward judges to persuade them to hear both sides of a case (see Deut 1:16).
  6. Proverbs 18:18 Casting lots: see note on Prov 16:33.
  7. Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power over life and death: see note on Prov 13:3.
  8. Proverbs 18:22 Receives favor from the Lord: identical to Prov 8:35, where the favor results from finding wisdom.

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