The contrasts between one who is "righteous" (lives according to God's laws and will and for the good of others) and one who is "wicked" (lives according to their own will and for the good of themselves) continue. Every now and then, the verses that draw the contrast between how one lives righteously (as opposed to those who live wickedly) pause to remember what is at stake. V. 21, our concluding verse for today, is one such pause:
Whoever belittles another lacks sense, but an intelligent person remains silent. A gossip goes about telling secrets, but one who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a confidence. Where there is no guidance, a nation falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. To guarantee loans for a stranger brings trouble, but there is safety in refusing to do so. A gracious woman gets honor, but she who hates virtue is covered with shame. The timid become destitute, but the aggressive gain riches. Those who are kind reward themselves, but the cruel do themselves harm. The wicked earn no real gain, but those who sow righteousness get a true reward. Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but whoever pursues evil will die. Crooked minds are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight. Be assured, the wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will escape. (Prov. 11:12-21)
There's at least one verse that may have made you stop and wonder what Solomon is saying. In one verse he says, "The aggressive gain riches." It almost seems like he is encouraging us to look out only for ourselves and take from others in order to gain. Yet, we've read enough of Proverbs even at this point to know that's inconsistent with other advice. When read in context with the other verses about kindness and having a solid work ethic, and the fact that he contrasts aggressiveness with timidity, I think this is more of an instruction to hard work and dedication to whatever task is at hand. What do you think he means in v. 14 when he speaks about a nation being safest when there is an "abundance of counselors?"
Meditation: As you read these random verses on the way of wisdom, which has the most meaning for you? Which do you see most abused or ignored by those around you? Most importantly, as you read these verses, what do they reveal about God and what God wants for and from us?