Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 11:9
"With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered."
This proverb declares false the child's saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Words can be some of the most powerful and damaging weapons. This is a discouraging and encouraging Proverb at the same time.
Notice that it states that godless people will try and attack your reputation. And they will succeed unless you are righteous and equipped with knowledge. So we must define who is the godless person. What are the two antidotes to this person's desired destruction: Righteousness and Knowledge.
This is the Hebrew word honep which is usually rendered hypocrite; the phony; the one who puts on a mask to hide their real intentions. It has the idea of looking like the person is doing right while their internal motive is to break rules, laws, and commandments to get what they want. The translators draw out the idea of this person not remembering judgment day and therefore call this person godless. But it is important to realize that while this is clearly what they are, the predominant characteristic is that they are phony. They really don't believe or live the way they say they do.
There is an understanding in what Solomon is teaching here in that this person wants to maintain their pleasant position and good situation and will step on anyone or anything that might cause people to see what they really are all about.
The warning is to watch for phony people – not people who make mistakes and aren't perfect but phony people who want everyone to embrace a glittering image of themselves.
Sometimes this person is the con man who will try and suck good, gullible Christian people into some scam or scheme.
Notice the instrument of the hypocrite is their mouth. They are trying to smooth talk you. Watch out for the person who is the incredibly smooth talker and appears too good to be true. How many different times do we have to hear of people who have been bilked out of their life savings or drawn into a romance and then bilked?
This is the Hebrew word sedaqa which means righteousness or justice or doing things the right way. One of the things that con men and grifters do is they try and get a person to make a small break with legality to set them up for a bigger break later. If you refuse to compromise on what is right or what is legal in trying to gain money or promotion or some other desirable thing, then these people cannot trap you. Con men can only trap people who will compromise on God's laws and on legal issues and who do not check into things enough, getting all the facts.
This is the Hebrew word daat which means knowledge. The one thing that phonies can't stand is the truth. The light of facts and inconsistencies exposes these kinds of people. The word here is never enter into a deal or relationship with a person or a company until one has sufficient facts that this is completely legitimate. If there is any question, make several phone calls and/or go online to check out the deal or plan. If the person will not wait as you check it out, then they are some level of phony.
Solomon continues his unique training into wisdom through this penetrating insight into the world of con men and phonies. His solutions – although given over 3,000 years ago – are still valid and effective.