Proverb 10:20 – The Value of Words and Goals

Silver having been chosen the tongue of the righteous
The heart of wicked ones as little

The word used to describe the silver is a Hebrew participle in the Niphal stem (like the English passive mode), bachar (Strong’s H0977), meaning to choose. The participle modifies the noun, silver. The righteous is singular, and the wicked plural. The participle is the only verb and doesn’t function like one. The only preposition is “as” which, in Hebrew, is a prefix on the adjective “little”. In English the word count of the two lines is way off. In Hebrew it is nearly equal, with a prepositional prefix on little balancing the participle. Enough of the boring stuff. Wake up, take another sip of coffee, and keep going.

The challenge is to understand how the tongue relates to the heart, and what this relationship reveals about the righteous and the wicked.

  1. How does selection help us understand the value of the tongue of the righteous?
    • The silver was selected silver, not just the metal in coin. There was a form or quality that increased the value.
    • The tongue, here as in James, likely refers to what is said.
    • In that case the words of righteous people have a quality preferred by others.
    • It could also inspire people to righteousness so they will have something valued by others.
  2. How does the heart loose value and be of little value?
    • The heart is less emotional and more the ability to be intentional and show determination.
    • This is neither positive or negative and can refer to what we might focus on, or even obsess over.
    • Therefore, whatever a wicked one sets their intent on and strives for is as little.
    • Wicked people work toward things of little value, whether to themselves or others.

The lesson for me is that what I focus on will, eventually be heard in what I say. If my intent and focus is on things of little value (like resentment or bitterness, for instance), then I will have nothing of value to share with others.

My hope is that righteousness is partly defined as my heart set on the right things, like my Savior, His grace and mercy, and His death, burial, and resurrection as the foundation of my life. With that focus, my words will be valuable to others, and I will have something of value to contribute to others.

There are a lot of other ways to apply this to our lives. It’s wisdom, and wide enough to encompass several situations. Think through how it might apply to you? What will you focus on to increase the value of your words? How can you be intentional about your walk with our Savior?

I can tell you, don’t worry about the resulting increase in value. If your focus is right, the value will emerge. That much I know.