Second Part of Major Solomonic Collection Cont'd (Proverbs 18:5-21)
37. Further Comments on Listening to Evil Talk (18:5-8)
"TYPE: CHIASTIC....The chiasmus in vv. 6-7 is obvious (lips, mouth, mouth, lips). Somewhat less conspicuously, v. 5 refers to heeding evil talk at the gate [where judicial decisions were made], and v. 8 describes the pleasures that malicious slander can give. This section appears to be a further commentary on 17:27–18:4. In official proceedings, whether they be court cases or community decisions, one obviously should not take the side of an evil person (v. 5). The odds of such happening are reduced by the fact that caustic and selfish people expose themselves by their words (vv. 6-7). On the other hand, many have a perverse attraction to malicious gossip (v. 8). This points to the need to be a judicious and thoughtful listener" (NAC). Verse 8 is repeated in 26:22.
38. Security (18:9-12)
"TYPE: THEMATIC....Several proverbs on personal security stand here together" (NAC).
39. Two Proverbs (18:13-14)
TYPE: INDIVIDUAL PROVERBS. "These two proverbs have no direct relationship to each other. Interestingly, however, v. 13 looks back to 17:27–18:4 while v. 14 repeats the sentiment of 17:22" (NAC). Proverbs 18:13 shows the importance of not being hasty or prejudiced in coming to conclusions—to wait until one has all the facts before making a judgment (see also verse 17).
"Verse 14 points out that one's attitude, for good or ill, is the single most important factor in confronting adversity" (note on verses 13-14).
40. Just Problem Resolution (18:15-19)
Verse 16 shows that gifts open doors (compare 17:8; 19:6). This could be a model of propriety, yet it may also be something for jurists considering a dispute to be on guard against (compare 17:23).
Proverbs 18:17 adds to the wisdom of verse 13 in making the point that we must give all sides in a dispute a fair hearing.
In verse 18, disputes were sometimes settled through casting lots. In seemingly irresolvable disputes today people sometimes decide to "flip for it"—tossing a coin to determine an outcome through chance. Yet in ancient times, the casting of lots was often seen as an appeal not to blind chance but to divine judgment (16:33). Thus it was looked on as turning the matter over to God.
Proverbs 18:19 points out that reconciling with an offended brother, a close companion, is no easy matter—perhaps because of the level of perceived betrayal. Of course we should, if at all possible, avoid offense in the first place. But where offense has already occurred, we must be prepared for some great effort in restoring a positive relationship. This may also be a warning to jurists about the intractability of such disputes.
41. The Power of Words (18:20-21)
"TYPE: THEMATIC, CATCHWORD" (NAC).
Verse 20 refers to productive speech benefiting its user. On the other hand, verse 21 warns that those who love to use the tongue will bear the result, whether good or ill. The key, then, is to speak carefully, as so many other proverbs show.