Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Proverbs 11:1-15 (ESV)
11 A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight. 2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. 3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. 4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. 5 The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight, but the wicked falls by his own wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust. 7 When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too. 8 The righteous is delivered from trouble, and the wicked walks into it instead. 9 With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered. 10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. 11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown. 12 Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. 13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. 14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. 15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.
God makes a strong connection between being righteous (that means to be good in God’s eyes) and being just (referring to being fair and honest with one another). In God’s eyes, if you lack one, you lack both. Many of these proverbs point out how the desire for wealth can lead us to practice dishonesty, fraud, and worse. Verses 10-11 introduce a new theme: the diligence of the righteous not only blesses themselves, but it leads to a joyful community or city. We know how a city with corrupt politicians and greedy businessmen will lead to misery for most of its residents. But when the leaders are honest, generous, and seeking the good of everyone, the whole city thrives. Verse 11:14 is a famous one, teaching the necessity of getting advice from others. The next verse is an odd one. It refers to making loans to others (the phrase “striking hands” was the Jewish equivalent of a “handshake” agreement). In general, the Bible discourages lending, and the book of Proverbs will often point out the dangers of lending to others. If you want to help someone in need, just give them what they need. A loan will often lead to harming your relationship.