Proverbs 12: Bible Study and Commentary

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Proverbs chapter 12 contains much wisdom but what can we glean from it?  What could you add in commenting about Proverbs chapter 12?

What is a Proverb?

The Hebrew word for proverb is “mashal” and it can mean several things; “poetry, similitude, a maxim, parable, byword,” and as the word says,” proverb” or “to be like.”  Proverbs give us the wisdom of God in how to deal with life’s situations and in dealing with believers and non-believers.  If we break down this word, the first part is “pro” for coming before and the second part “verb” is that of verbal or words but the Proverbs are so much more that having a word coming before us.  They show us godly wisdom that the world does not know; we cannot learn godly wisdom from the world.  Since the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we are reading what God thinks about various situations and so as we read through a portion of Proverbs chapter 12, let’s attempt to glean the most important truths from one of the most profound chapters in one of the greatest books in the Bible, with the understanding that I cannot possibly cover the entire chapter in one article.

Proverbs 12 Bible Study and Commentary

Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”

I think an attribute of meekness is to be teachable and to stand corrected where and when needed.  The inability to admit error and confess mistakes means we hate knowledge because we don’t accept discipline. If we love discipline we love knowledge but if we hate it, we essentially hate wisdom.

Proverbs 12:3 “No one is established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.”

What the author is saying is that anything that is established will be established in the long term if it is done in the right way (or righteously) because eventually, those things done in wickedness cannot last beyond this life.  The root of the righteous or the saints of God will never be moved or put to an end for they have eternal life and their reward will not be taken away and unlike the unrighteous (the unsaved) who will lose everything they have when they are judged.

Prov 12:4 “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

A man whose wife brings shame to his family and to him will negatively affect the man’s health (rottenness in his bones) but a wife who is godly (excellent) brings a reward to her husband like a crown given to a king or ruler.

Prov 12:7 “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand.”

Jesus said that unless we build our house on the sure foundation if His teachings, it’s not going to last.  The storms of life will reveal whether it is built on sand or on the Rock.  In Matthew 7:24-27 He essentially says what this proverb says “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” When your house is built upon the Rock of Christ, it will forever stand but the wicked one’s house will be swept away someday.

Prov 12:10 “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”

I heard a psychologist once say that if a child is mean or tortures animals, they are more likely to grow up and be violent.  One marriage counselor said for a prospective mate to look at how his or her boy or girlfriend treats their mother, children, and their pets.  Look to see if they have regard or disregard for their animals.  That will tell you a lot about them. God loves animals so we should treat them in humane ways.

Prov 12:11 “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”

Cleary, this means that earning a living the old fashioned way, by working for it, is the best means to ensure you won’t end up in poverty or debt.  One of my childhood neighbors never worked much at all, he always needed to borrow something to eat, he always wanted to use our telephone, and this man had a reputation of being a leech and no one liked him.  Why?  He relentlessly pursued “get rich schemes” because he didn’t want to do what the rest of us have to do…and that is get up in the morning and work and work hard.

Prov 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

There is strength in admitting your mistakes and listening to others.  Learning the hard way works, yes, but it is the hardest way of all to learn.  Wouldn’t it be better to listen and learn?  When someone is wrong but believes that they aren’t (right in their own eyes) their way is the way of the fool (foolishness) and since pride comes just before the fall, they don’t want to humble themselves and listen to others.   If only they understood that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6) and if they don’t humble themselves, God may have to do it for them.

Prov 12:25 “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”

I remember hearing that doctors believe that 80% of illness is caused by anxiety and 80% of the things that we worry about never come to pass.  What a terrible waste of energy and health.  In contrast to that, it takes 15 (or so) positive comments to make up for one negative comment and so I believe we need to be encouraging one another, exhorting one another, and edifying each other by giving people “a good word.”  We’ve already got enough negativity in the world as it is without adding to it.

Prov 12:26 “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

I tried to witness to my neighbor for the first time a few years ago.  I tried to guide him to the only way to eternal life and that is in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12) but the wicked who do not know God lead them astray by trying to convince them of false teachings and beliefs which come from those who canvass the neighborhood on a regular basis and by definition are cults.  They will lead their neighbors astray and away from the right Jesus Christ Who is eternal God and not created.  I tried to do some damage control after these two men tried to tell him about “another Jesus” but unless you have the right Jesus you don’t’ have the real Jesus and thus, you don’t have the Only One Who can save you.

Prov 12:28 “In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.”

Like the Good Shepherd “leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3) He leads us to eternal life.  In that path there is no death, meaning eternal death.  Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) not a way, a truth or a life but the way, the truth and the life.  Jesus Christ is the exclusivity of “the path of righteousness.”  If you learn nothing else in Proverbs 12, learn that.


The Proverbs contain what is called “wisdom literature” and there is no greater wisdom for a man, woman or child than to repent of their sins, confess them to God, and trust in the Good Shepherd for eternal life for there is no other way to the Father in heaven than through Jesus Christ and Him alone (John 6:44).  If you know this, then you are as wise as can you can possibly be.

More about wisdom: The Wisdom of God

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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