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Proverbs 11:9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor: In verses 11, 13, 18, 20, 21, and 31 in chapter 10, we have a part of the body (tongue, mouth, lips) being used figuratively regarding the speech or words of good people. Here the mouth (פֶּה peh) of the godless is a reference to worthless, obscene, and hurtful talk, gossip, idle chatter, or slander. A godless (חָנֵף chaneph) man has no belief, trust, or faith in God; rejecting him and obedience would seem foolish and offensive to him. He is an apostate who stands off from the knowledge that delivers the righteous in line two. This Hebrew verb (שָׁחַת shachath) destroy means to damage, ravage, devastate, corrupt, cause trouble, annihilate, irreparably. The neighbor (Heb. rea) here may be a simple acquaintance, a fellow human, one who lives near you, or more intimately, a close friend.
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered: Knowledge (דַּעַת daath) is the possession of information learned by personal experience, observation, or study. The Bible strongly urges us to seek and treasure accurate knowledge, as it is far superior to gold. (Prov. 8:10; 20:15) However, here knowledge is more than facts or information; it is wisdom, understanding, insight, and good sense. Delivered translates the Hebrew verb (חָלַץ chalats), meaning to be saved (physically) from ruin, destruction, or harm.
Whether we choose to accept it or not, the honesty and truthfulness of the righteous and the godlessness of the wicked have an effect on us. Who can deny that worthless, obscene, and hurtful talk, gossip, and idle chatter, or slander are damaging to others? Then, we can consider the words of the righteous one, they are pure, well-thought-out, kind, loving, respectful, gentle, and considerate. The godless man is an apostate, one who stands off from the very knowledge that delivers the righteous man. If we remain loyal to the Source of this knowledge, God, we will not be misled by the smooth words of the apostate. We should turn away from those alienated from God, the spiritually blind, false religious leaders, and seek instruction from the only true Source of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. – Proverbs 1:7; 14:12; Jeremiah 10:23; Psalm 111:10.
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