“A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.” Proverbs 6:12 - 15
We read in Proverbs chapter 2 how we can use our eyes, ears, and heart to gain wisdom. Solomon says that we can seek wisdom like we are searching for treasure (Proverbs 2:4). Obtaining wisdom is a full-body endeavor requiring our participation. People observe you walking in wisdom. While it might not actually look like taking a walk (though sometimes a walk is good for your soul), there are actions in your life that others see when we are seeking wisdom.
In verse 12, we read about a person who points their finger, winks, and signals with their feet. At first glance, this seems like the confusing actions of someone who Proverbs would call wicked. The language used here to describe a wicked person can also be found in Deuteronomy 13:13, "Scoundrels (wicked men) among you are leading their fellow citizens astray by saying, ‘Let us go worship other gods’ - gods you have not known before." They are using their body language to lure someone astray. With a wink and a nod, they are beckoning their neighbor to come and worship other gods. What are some other gods in our world today? Power, celebrity status, or fame come to mind. False gods tempt us every single day. They may not look like Baal or a golden calf, but there are forces that are pulling us away from the path of righteousness and sowing discord.
Stay on the path
Walking in wisdom is having the ability to see when someone is trying to lure you off the path. Solomon is reminding us that it can be as simple as a wink or the pointing of a finger; crooked speech and discord are still the currency of the world. Satan did not scare Eve in the garden; he merely asked her a question. When Jesus was tempted by Satan (see Matthew 4:1 – 11), Satan was going about it with a simple conversation. There was no epic fistfight or boxing match; it was as subtle as a wink. It is important that we be engaged in wisdom so we will be aware when someone is seeking to lead us astray.
Solomon gives a strong warning about why we should not listen to people with crooked speech. He says that "in a moment, he will be broken beyond healing” (v 15). If we follow the advice of Solomon, we will avoid people with crooked speech who sow discord. You may have heard the saying, "misery loves company," but I think it’s truer still that "misery loves miserable company." The scoffer and the fool (two other characters in Proverbs) will do all that they can to bring you to that same place of outrage and anger. Have you ever entered into a discussion online? How did that turn out for you? I can think of a few comment threads that I walked away from feeling pretty beaten up. Even though it can be tempting to engage with scoffers, at the end of the day, the best thing we can do is just keep walking in wisdom.
Reflect and Respond
So, what do we do if we are beaten up, broken down? What if we feel crushed by the weight of discord and crooked speech? I think Solomon would advise us to get back on the path and listen for the call of wisdom. If you are consumed with the misery of other voices, maybe you need to take a break and listen with your whole self for the call of wisdom. You can take comfort in the promise in Proverbs 1:33, "Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster." God is still here, wisdom is still available. Take a few minutes to pray and ask God to help you walk in wisdom and avoid places where discord is sown.