Resources by D. Marion Clark

Marion Clark was Executive Minister of Tenth Church until February 2014. He has edited Come to the Waters, a devotional featuring the writings of James Montgomery Boice and is the author of What Matters, Speaking the Truth in Love, and Jesus the Conquering King. Visit DMC Resources for all of his resources.

Proverbs 12:26

One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

For good or ill we are all guides to our neighbors. Whether we are vocal or silent, withdrawn or sociable, we guide our neighbors and they guide us. This is called life experience. Some neighbors are consciously guided by us; some are unaware that we affect them at all…
Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.

We can say, "Amen," to both of these statements for their verity. Anxiety weighs a person down. He feels drained; he lacks enthusiasm. He has difficulty sleeping; his attention span is short. He can even physically look weighed down as though carrying a burden on his back, which is truly what he is…
Proverbs 12:24

The hand of the diligent will rule,
while the slothful will be put to forced labor.

The students who do the best work are the students who are most diligent in their labor. They are the students who excel in grades, get the awards, and win the scholarships. The employees who are most diligent find the same kind of results; so do rulers, athletes, musicians. Indeed in every…
Proverbs 12:23

A prudent man conceals knowledge,
but the heart of fools proclaims folly.

Why would it be prudent to conceal knowledge? It would be prudent to conceal knowledge from people who will misuse that knowledge. They may publicize what ought to be kept private. They may maliciously use the knowledge to hurt others or obtain ill-gotten gain. It would be prudent to conceal knowledge from the foolish, who may…
Proverbs 12:22

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Do you read such a proverb and give thanks that you are not a person who lies? Consider what the Larger Catechism has to say about breaking the ninth commandment.

Q. 144. What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving…
Proverbs 12:21

No ill befalls the righteous,
but the wicked are filled with trouble.


The ill addressed by this proverb is the ill of retribution. The wicked are filled with such trouble because they continually rile up grievances. They must protect themselves from the enemies they have created by their stealing and cheating and offending. Their rash tongues invite angry words. Their acts of deceit result in distrust. Their greed…
Proverbs 12:20

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
but those who plan peace have joy.


Delve into the heart of the evil-doer and you will find a heart filled with lies. There are the lies he has in store for others lies by which to cheat, to manipulate, to do whatever he thinks necessary to obtain joy.
There are the lies he tells to himself lies…
Proverbs 12:19

Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue is but for a moment.


A lying tongue creates a momentary sensation. It riles the emotions as it makes the headlines. But the lie eventually is buried, along with the liar. It is not the lies that are recalled from history, but the words which are noble, which are inspiring, which spread light on truth. And so those who speak…
Proverbs 12:18

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.


We need to understand the consequence of our rash words words which we speak without giving consideration to the person to whom we are speaking. Rash words are the ones we speak in anger. They are the flippant remarks we make. They are the speaking my mind words and the…
Proverbs 12:17

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,
but a false witness utters deceit.


The two lines seem redundant, but the focus appears to be on the end result of each person. The truth speaker gives honest evidence. Dont you feel good by that expression honest evidence? Your inner sense of justice is aroused, even you aesthetic sense of beauty. Honest evidence yes, this is right; this is good…
Proverbs 12:16

The vexation of a fool is known at once,
but the prudent ignores an insult.

"What did you say about me?"
"Are you laughing at me?"
"Don't ignore me!"

The vexation of a fool is known at once because his focus is on himself. He is bothered when his opinion is not highly regarded; he is attentive to the attention he receives or doesn't receive. His primary concern…
Proverbs 12:15

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice.

This is the problem of the fool. Because he has a foolish perspective about himself, he cannot learn and escape from his foolishness.
He thinks he is charming when he is boorish. He believes he knowledgeable about things of which he is ignorant. He cannot read the faces of those…
Proverbs 12:14

From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good,
and the work of a man's hand comes back to him.


When a person learns the truth of both statements, he will find so much of the contentment and success he finds missing. "From the fruit of his mouth" - from speaking words that are wise, words that are loving, words that are wholesome - from…
Proverbs 12:13

An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,
but the righteous escapes from trouble.

However he might, the evil person will ensnare himself because he cannot always keep up a false appearance. A powerful political person was caught on tape speaking threats against those who would oppose him. He apologized for a lapse of character, but in truth, the image he tried to convey publicly…
Proverbs 12:12

Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers,
but the root of the righteous bears fruit.

The wicked sees the ill-gotten gain of other wicked persons and concludes that their way is the way of success. The wicked respect successful wicked people. They want to be like them. In a perverted way, they think that obtaining "success" by evil deeds is clever, even honorable, as they desire above…
Proverbs 12:11

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.


This proverb distinguishes between the persons who seem to have the good luck of keeping work and having enough provisions and those who keep running into the bad fortune of not finding the right job or getting the fortunate break. I once commented to a relative about another relative's "bad luck"…
Proverbs 12:10

Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.


The righteous has regard for his beast because he is just, compassionate, and wise. It is a matter of justice to protect and preserve life. God is Creator of the animals, and we must have just cause to harm his creatures, especially those whom he has given to serve…
Proverbs 12:9

Better to be lowly and have a servant
than to play the great man and lack bread.


It is better to have shown the wisdom and done the labor to provide for oneself and one's family, than to give the appearance of prosperity and yet in truth have nothing that is secure. Thus, it is better to not be able to join the fashionable crowd that spends freely…
Proverbs 12:8

A man is commended according to his good sense,
but one of twisted mind is despised.


This proverb presents a virtue that is often overlooked and underestimated, but may be the most important in success. It is the difference maker for ability to manage people and to achieve any goal that involves people. It is good sense; also known as commonsense.
A man may possess tremendous knowledge and…
Proverbs 12:7

The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
but the house of the righteous will stand.


Good guys finish. The wicked may think that such persons finish last, but what matters is that - first, second, or last - the good guys are left standing in the end. The wicked, no matter how fast and how tough they may be, will eventually be overthrown. Someone faster and stronger…
Proverbs 12:6

The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
but the mouth of the upright delivers them.


The intent of the wicked is to harm. Out of anger they may try to ruin another's reputation, perhaps to coax the other to anger and sin. That is what Jesus' enemies tried to do with their questions and slander. The wicked use words to draw blood. Sometimes, though, the…
Proverbs 12:5

The thoughts of the righteous are just;
the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.


To whom do you look for counsel? Where do you go for advice? You may unwittingly be using counselors who present to you a deceitful view of life. Your counselors may be TV shows through whom you are learning about relationships. They may be movies from which you are learning to accept violence and…
Proverbs 12:4

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

An excellent wife is her husband's glory (1 Corinthians 11:7). She is the fulfillment of the original intention of being a "helper fit for him" (Genesis 2:18). She is her husband's joy, and he delights in praising her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all"…
Proverbs 12:3

No one is established by wickedness,
but the root of the righteous will never be moved.


No one is established by wickedness because the soil of such a heart is too poor to sustain strong roots. The soil is rocky and prevents roots from burrowing deep; it is barren of nutrients that feed the roots; it is infested with weeds and thorns that choke whatever may be lasting…
Proverbs 12:2

A good man obtains favor from the Lord,
but a man of evil devices he condemns.


This proverb seems to make the case that we do earn favor from the Lord, that he will accept us into heaven according to our goodness. Those who are good obtain favor; those who are bad lose out.

That last sentence is actually true. God does not receive the unrighteous into heaven…
Proverbs 12:1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid.

That's a blunt translation! It gets, however, to the essential difference between the wise and the foolish; indeed, it expresses the reason why the wise are wise and the foolish are foolish. The lover of knowledge loves discipline because discipline leads him to knowledge. He wants to be corrected when his thinking is going astray because…
Proverbs 11:31

If the righteous is repaid on earth,
how much more the wicked and the sinner!


This proverb aptly sums up chapter 11. "Righteousness delivers from death"; "a gracious woman gets honor"; "a man who is kind benefits himself"; "the one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward"; "whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live"; "the desire of the righteous ends only in good"; "one gives freely, yet grows…
Proverbs 11:30

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and whoever captures souls is wise.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life because good fruit comes from good trees. Jesus noted this. You can tell the heart of a person by the fruit he bears. One can try to imitate goodness, but if his heart is not good his outward goodness will appear superficial…
Proverbs 11:29

Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.


Inheritance is the cause of many troubles in households. "Mom knew how much I always wanted the dining furniture." "You never cared about tools anyhow; I should have them." And then there is the money to quarrel over; should the home be sold? But then, it is not…
Proverbs 11:28

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.


In _____ we trust. In whom? In what do you trust your welfare? Is it in your bank account? Perhaps your trust is in your skill or training. Perhaps it is in your insurance policy. Perhaps your trust is in your ability to call the shots. God has a way of shaking…
Proverbs 11:27

Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor,
but evil comes to him who searches for it.


Do yourself a favor; try to be good. The world's proverb is wrong: good guys finish last. The bad guys may think they have moved into first place, but they will only prove Jesus' proverb: the first shall be the last.
The "good guys" who live for God, who place others before themselves…
Proverbs 11:26

The people curse him who holds back grain,
but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.

The crime here is not merely that one is a miser, but that he withholds what is needed for survival. He is not even being asked to give, but to sell. Instead he hordes the grain, perhaps to run up the price; perhaps he is fearful of not…
Proverbs 11:25

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.

"They bless me more than I bless them."
"I get a whole lot more than what I give."
These are the kind of statements that are common to hear from those who go on mission trips, do acts of mercy, and get involved in ministry. They know the truth of another proverb it is…
Proverbs 11:24

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.


The one who gives freely already is ahead because he is free from the control of money and possessions. His security and self-esteem is not bound to possessions; rather, his joy is in blessing others and in furthering the work of God's kingdom. To put it another way, it is…
Proverbs 11:23

The desire of the righteous ends only in good;
the expectation of the wicked in wrath.


Note first that the desire of the righteous is righteous desire. The righteous and the wicked may desire the same job and the wicked win out. They may both desire to win the game and the wicked triumphs. But in the end, because the righteous desire righteousness above all, their desires will…
Proverbs 11:22

Like a gold ring in a pig's snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.

A gold ring in a pig's snout is a waste of beauty and value. So a woman who acts foolishly, especially in the area of relationships and sexuality, wastes her beauty. Her very beauty ought to be an adornment that enhances her "value." And yet, through indiscretion she wastes it. A gold ring in…
Proverbs 11:21

Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished,
but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.


While watching a sporting event, such as a basketball or football game, you will usually notice a coach get extremely angry, sometimes for no apparent reason. He screams at the officials. His assistants may have to hold him back. Why is he so angry? He sees what he perceives to…
Proverbs 11:20

Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord,
but those of blameless ways are his delight.


Meditate on what pleases God:

His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love
(Psalm 147:10-11).
Thus says the Lord: Let not
Proverbs 11:19

Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,
but he who pursues evil will die.

One half of this proverb seems easy enough to fulfill, while the other half is impossible. Most people claim that they do not pursue evil, but who claims to be steadfast in righteousness? No one is perfect.

The contrast is between states of attitude. There are those who strive to do the right thing…
Proverbs 11:18

The wicked earns deceptive wages,
but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.


This proverb is a commentary on the previous proverb: "A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches." The "riches" that the wicked earn are deceptive. They are but the precursor to disaster and misery, be it in this lifetime or the next. The honor that the righteous receive are a sure reward…
Proverbs 11:17

A man who is kind benefits himself,
but a cruel man hurts himself.

What typically happens when you do a kind deed? You hold the elevator door open instead of letting it close on the person walking to it; you let the driver pull in front of you in heavy traffic; you help your colleague complete a task, carry the bag for your neighbor. Usually such kind deeds…
Proverbs 11:16

A gracious woman gets honor,
and violent men get riches.


An English teacher would have given this proverb poor marks for its attempt at making a contrasting parallel. It goes from singular to plural, from woman to man, and the objects do not match. One would think that violent men would get dishonor. But they get the money. And as far as they are concerned, they get the…
Proverbs 11:15

Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm,
but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.


This is a proverb that many of us have learned the hard way as we tried to help out someone in need with a loan or signing for a loan. If you wish to help someone, then give. If you make a loan, or co-sign for a…
Proverbs 11:14

Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Our church government follows this principle. No one minister or elder may rule the church. Instead, it is through the prayerful deliberation of elders (ministers are Teaching Elders; lay elders are Ruling Elders in our denomination) that divine guidance is received and given to the church. In actual practice, the "system"…
Proverbs 11:13

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets,
but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.


"Perhaps I shouldnt say this, but Tom told me..."
"I'm not suppose to say anything, but I thought you should know..."
"I wonder why Sally was going into..."

And the beat goes on. Note that the proverb says slandering reveals secrets. The viciousness of slander lies in that it spreads half-truths…
Proverbs 11:12

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
but a man of understanding remains silent.


Why is it foolish to belittle one's neighbor? He can get even! He can play his music loud, have his dog use your yard, etc. He can make daily life miserable. A wise person understands this. He keeps his views about his neighbor's habits and tastes to himself. He does not take it upon himself…
Proverbs 11:11

By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of wicked it is overthrown.


The blessing of the upright may be the blessing that the upright give to the city. Thus, we bless the city when we pray for her, when we befriend our neighbors, pitch in to help the neighborhood, vote for good leaders, even run for public office. We bless the…
Proverbs 11:10

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.


Is this proverb really true? It seems to us that the city mocks the righteous and exalts the wicked. But then, what we have in mind is the city mocking our morals. Righteousness, of course, includes morality, but the focus here is on that aspect of righteousness in…
Proverbs 11:9

With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.

Jesus is the best example of proving this proverb. He was followed by men bent on destroying his reputation and even seeking his life by either laying before him verbal traps or outright slandering him. And yet, because of his wisdom born out of righteousness, he always had a ready answer…