What does Proverbs 11:11 mean?
ESV: By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.
NIV: Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
NASB: By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, But by the mouth of the wicked, it is torn down.
CSB: A city is built up by the blessing of the upright, but it is torn down by the mouth of the wicked.
NLT: Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.
KJV: By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
This continues the thoughts expressed in the previous verse (Proverbs 11:10). A city enjoys a good reputation because of the character and conduct of its righteous citizens. The upright pray for their city. Genesis 18 shows Abraham praying for Sodom after the Lord said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake" (Genesis 18:26). Jeremiah 29:7 records Jeremiah's instructions to the Jews in Babylon. He commands: "Seek the welfare of the city where I [God] have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."
Similarly, the apostle Paul instructs us in 1 Timothy 2:1–2 to pray for our government officials so that "we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." He indicates, "This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior" (1 Timothy 2:3).
Whereas the righteous exalt a city, the wicked residents destroy a city by berating its officials (Proverbs 11:9), spreading lies and rumors, and dealing in crime and crooked business (Proverbs 11:1).
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.
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.
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.
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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