What does Proverbs 10:9 mean?
ESV: Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
NIV: Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
NASB: One who walks in integrity walks securely, But one who perverts his ways will be found out.
CSB: The one who lives with integrity lives securely, but whoever perverts his ways will be found out.
NLT: People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.
KJV: He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.
This proverb is like a modern English expression. Attributed to Mark Twain, it says, "if you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." An honest, sincere life doesn't run the risk of being caught in lies or deceit. The honest person, therefore, has a more "secure" life. No one can legitimately build a valid case against him.
However, Solomon also points out that the person who conducts himself dishonestly and commits evil will be discovered, eventually. Not long before Twain, Walter Scott noted, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!" Trying to keep multiple lines of lies from tangling with each other is a losing effort. Eventually, liars are exposed.
Christians ought to heed Solomon's words and lead such a life that no one can legitimately find fault with them. When the apostles instructed the believers in the early church at Jerusalem to select seven men to oversee the welfare program, they said, "Pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty" (Acts 6:3). But such integrity is also supposed to characterize the life of every Christian. Paul admonishes the Philippian believers: "Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:14–15).
Proverbs 10:6–10 contrasts the blessings of righteousness with the crooked lifestyle of the wicked. The righteous person is wise, whereas the wicked person is a fool. The righteous person blesses others, whereas the wicked person conceals violence and causes trouble.
This chapter begins 375 "proverbs," which are general-case lessons or observations. These wise remarks continue the discussion of wisdom and wickedness begun in chapters 1—9. Most of the verses in chapter 10 contain a sharp contrast, with the conjunction "but" separating the lines. Often, the subject changes from verse to verse. The contrasting subjects include sons, treasure, work ethic, reputation, relationships, success, and speech.
In Proverbs 7—9 Solomon contrasts wisdom and wickedness in the symbolic persons of Lady Wisdom and Woman Folly. He calls upon his sons, or students, to choose wisdom, and he points out the benefits of choosing wisdom and the disastrous results of choosing wickedness. Chapter 10 presents vivid contrasts between wisdom and wickedness in many of life's settings. These comparisons continue into chapter 11.
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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