What does Proverbs 15 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
This continues a long string of "proverbs:" short, general-case expressions of commonsense wisdom. A large section of these began in Proverbs chapter 10 and continues through Proverbs 22:16.

Solomon begins with several statements commending self-control. Cautious, gentle answers not only prevent additional strife, they reduce whatever tension already exists. A wise person carefully chooses their response, rather than babbling out whatever comes to mind. Closely connected to this is the need to humbly accept correction (Proverbs 15:1–5).

Next are several contrasts. These compare the righteous with the wicked, using the parallel ideas of those who are wise and those who are foolish. These proverbs echo themes such as the life-giving nature of godly wisdom, the disastrous consequences of sin, the importance of humility, and the value of seeking advice (Proverbs 15:6–12).

The majority of the chapter is made up of individual segments of wisdom, with a few repeating themes. Solomon notes the importance of perspective, which is more influential than wealth when it comes to happiness. Careful planning, seeking advice, hard work, and righteousness are all commended. Laziness, impatience, arrogance, and hypocrisy are condemned. The chapter ends with three proverbs echoing the recurring theme that sensible persons listen to godly wisdom—and this only comes through a reverent honor of God (Proverbs 15:13–33).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 15:1–5 focuses on the wisdom of responding correctly to disagreement and correction. Several verses note the value in "soft" or "gentle" answers in resolving conflict. Those who unleash a torrent of attacks and criticisms are foolish, compared to those who take the time to consider an answer. Solomon reminds the reader that God sees and knows all, and he gives another reminder of the importance of listening to wise counselors.
Proverbs 15:6–12 contrasts the righteous and the wicked; in the context of the book of Proverbs, these two groups are also defined as those who are "wise" and those who are "foolish." Many of these comparisons are from God's perspective. Even good deeds and rituals performed by those who disobey God are offensive to Him. And yet, He accepts the prayers of those who sincerely seek His will. The Lord loves those who love Him, but He consigns the wicked to eternal punishment (Proverbs 10:29).
Proverbs 15:13–30 continues Solomon's contrasting descriptions of the wise and the foolish. In this book, those ideas are associated with accepting or rejecting God's truth, respectively (Proverbs 1:7). He writes about the gladness of the upright, wise person and the depressing existence of the wicked, foolish person. He contrasts attitudes, thoughts, and actions of both kinds of individuals, and he states that the Lord is far from the wicked but close enough to the righteous to hear their prayers.
Proverbs 15:31–33 closes the chapter by focusing on the benefits of receiving wise instruction. These commendations are all repeated several times over in other parts of the book of Proverbs. Key reminders in this segment are instruction, reproof, and reverent the fear of the Lord.
Chapter Summary:
Solomon begins this chapter of Proverbs by addressing subjects such as anger and self-control and how those reactions produce different responses from others. That extends to how carefully a person guards their words, and their responses to questions. Wise people seek wisdom and humbly accept it. Foolish people are careless, lazy, or arrogant. Solomon also notes the importance of perspective, and once again commends those who sincerely seek godly wisdom.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 10 began a long list of Solomon's wise sayings. This passage continues to emphasize common themes such as hard work, humility, godly wisdom, and self-control. This extended collection of proverbs continues through much of chapter 22.
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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