Proverbs 10 brings us to a new section of the book, a section known as the “proverbs of Solomon.” You will notice that it differs from the first section (chapters 1 – 9) in that the longer poems now give way to short sayings that are complete in one verse.
You will find references to “the righteous” and “the wicked” throughout the proverbs, but nowhere are the references more concentrated than in chapters ten and eleven and nowhere are they compared more frequently than chapter ten. Keep in mind that Proverbs offers no neutral ground, no middle way. You way is either righteous, or it is wicked.
A righteous man’s speech is encouraging, hopeful and helpful. That’s why it is called a “fountain” (or source) of life, and also why their words are considered as valuable as silver (vs. 20). The lives of the righteous are not filled with the kind of self-fulfilling prophecy which fills the lives of the wicked (11:5). What I mean by this is not that the righteous will not have difficulties. Certainly Satan will not leave them alone. But the challenges faced by the righteous are not of their own making. It is precisely the effort of the righteous to walk in God’s way that gives their life a smooth and level road.
There are other blessings of righteousness: God’s care, the respect of the community and prayers answered positively. The righteous prevail in times of trouble and their future is joyous.
Let’s not, however, head in the direction of thinking that we make ourselves righteous by keeping the rules. Neither should we think of righteousness as something God gives without any effort on our part. Righteousness itself is a blessing, given by God, but it is given to those who place their trust in God and follow His leading.