What does Proverbs 11 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
Solomon continues his wise sayings in this chapter by contrasting the conduct and character of the upright and the wicked. Those labelled "righteous" or "blameless" here are those who follow godly wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Those who ignore God, and selfishly follow their own whims, are the wicked and unrighteous (Proverbs 3:32–33).

An upright, godly life leads a person in the right path. This keeps godly people from gaining a bad reputation, from suffering the consequences of sin, and from being taken in by their own greed. Those who reject wisdom are consumed and destroyed by their own evil. In particular, those who pursue wealth and worldliness at all costs will be left without hope (Proverbs 11:1–8).

Those who seek righteousness not only benefit their own lives, they are a blessing to others. Their generosity helps their neighbor, and in return they can expect help in times of crisis. The righteous person's life is attractive; they "capture" the souls of others and encourage them to also honor God. Godliness keeps a person from inviting trouble, from offending others with slander or gossip, and from ruining their reputation. In contrast, the wicked person harms his neighbors and his family. As a result, he can expect to see his legacy ruined and his reputation hated. Even if the unrighteous person escapes some earthly troubles, he has no hope, at all, in eternity (Proverbs 11:9–31).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 11:1–8 describes the righteous life of a wise man in contrast to the corrupt life of a wicked man. The righteous person is honest and is delivered from trouble, whereas the wicked person is dishonest, crooked, lustful, and without hope.
Proverbs 11:9–15 continues Solomon's wise sayings, mainly addressing the speech of the righteous and the speech of the wicked. The righteous person speaks wisely and causes others to rejoice and be blessed. In contrast, the wicked person speaks foolishly and causes trouble.
Proverbs 11:16–22 continues Solomon's series of contrasts. Here he compares the beautiful life of those who pursue God's truth with that of those who live in their own sinful ways. He also contrasts the righteous person's end of life with that of the wicked person. He portrays the wicked person as an abomination in the sight of the Lord, whereas the righteous person is a delight to the Lord.
Proverbs 11:23–31 is the closing section of this segment. Solomon discusses the benefits of righteousness and generosity as opposed to stinginess and trust in riches. The righteous person will prosper and live, but the wicked person will experience trouble and punishment.
Chapter Summary:
Many of the proverbs in this section deal with contrasts between those who are righteous and those who are wicked. Righteous people follow God's will, bring honor and blessing on themselves, and have hope. Evil people disobey God, bring trouble on others, are hated, and their lives lead to disaster.
Chapter Context:
This continues a long passage filled with Solomon's general, common-sense observations. As in chapter 10, Solomon presents a variety of contrasts. We see distinctions such as those between integrity and dishonesty, trust in wealth and trust in the Lord, wise and foolish talk, true riches and false riches, the blessing of the righteous and the harm caused by the wicked, and the respective rewards of the godly and those who are evil.
Book Summary:
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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