There are particular values to which men on the journey of authentic manhood adhere. The book of Proverbs is a great resource for digging out those values. The book has a way of highlighting particular ideals and values, demonstrating that these values were esteemed at the time the text was written. Strangely enough the values that are highlighted are still esteemed today.
So what are some of the values present in the book of Proverbs? There are many, but they become apparent when we take a closer look at the text. We continue our examination of Proverbs 10, which deals with the themes of righteousness vs. wickedness, work and prosperity vs. slackness and ruin. Words is also a theme in this chapter.
The word “words” is not used that often in this chapter. However, the speaker references the general theme of words and how words are used several times. The first reference is in verse 6. “Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence” (Pr. 10:6). The phrase “the mouth of the wicked” shows up again later in the chapter, but this is a reference to the theme of words.
We could take “a mouth that conceals violence” to mean a mouth that conceals violent words, the words themselves being violent or abusive. Another possibility would be a mouth that conceals violent plans. In the last case, it is the communication of these violent plans through the words that is being concealed by the mouth.
In general, we could say that concealing with the mouth has to do with holding back words that are connected to something that is secret, and violent in this case. But the issue becomes more complicated the more we try to take this text apart to discover meaning. What exactly are violent words? What about words that are angry? Would those words count as being violent and, if so, are we in danger of suppressing angry feelings and sweeping things under the rug? If we are to try and apply the ideals and values of this text to our own journey of authentic manhood, we must try to be as clear as possible about the meaning of texts.
At this point, we should zoom out from these narrowing questions and consider the whole picture again. What is the supposed general meaning of this text as a whole? We might say that something is being concealed, which ought not to be concealed. This is being accomplished by the mouth. This might be through the use of silence, no words at all, but it could also be through the use of deception, words that are misleading.
If this is true, than this text is essentially about lying. The general meaning is that the wicked are concealing something that should be brought to the light. They are covering it up when they should be exposing it. This may be the fundamental wrong that the speaker is pointing out in this proverb. Lying, however, still has to do with words. If someone is lying, they will likely try to use words in a deceptive way to cover up the truth.
The mouth is involved in the process of deception, a reference to deceptive words. We could easily get hung up on what “violence” really means in this verse, whether it is violent words, violent plans, or otherwise. However, it is the concealing of this violence that is the main concern. It is the concealing of something which ought not to be concealed, and it is the vehicle of the mouth which aids in the concealing, likely with deceptive words.
Telling the truth is the value at stake. The speaker in this proverb is pointing out this value of telling the truth by giving the opposite scenario. Recognizing values can be useful. However, the recognition of a value and living a value are two different things. Men constantly fall short of adhering to their virtues. It is putting our faith in Jesus that makes the difference. It is his forgiveness and grace that is the real virtue at stake. It is what enables men on the journey of authentic manhood to begin and continue their journey in the truth.