What does Proverbs 11:9 mean?
ESV: With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
NIV: With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.
NASB: With his mouth the godless person destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be rescued.
CSB: With his mouth the ungodly destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous are rescued.
NLT: With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous.
KJV: A hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
NKJV: The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
Verse Commentary:
According to this verse, those who reject God and His wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) launch verbal attacks on their fellow men. The Hebrew word translated "godless" is hā'nēp, which also means something profane or deliberately set against God. It's common to see those who express open hatred for God also indulge in hatred for other people. In doing so, such a person violates the command to love others (Leviticus 19:18).

When a lawyer asked Jesus to identify the great commandment in the law, Jesus replied: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37), and He added, "And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). The godless man sins not only against his neighbor by profaning him, he also sins against God by breaking the second greatest commandment.

By contrast, the righteous person's knowledge delivers him from sinning against his neighbor. He knows God commands to love his neighbor (John 13:34). He should be inclined to treat others fairly (John 7:24), rather than jump to conclusions based on the accusations of a godless man (Proverbs 18:13, 17).
Verse Context:
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.
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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