Pastor Bill Farrow
The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” - Proverbs 11:3.
The verse here is divided in to two sections, each addressing a different “kind” of individual. The first uses the Hebrew word “tummȃ” (toom maw) which is a relatively uncommon word in the OT, being used but 5 times. It carries the idea of purity, innocence, respectability and the like. It is what is known as a “construct” form of the noun. The idea is that the form given of the noun is tied in a definite way to the verb hat follows (shall guide). There is, in this statement, a definite and sure relationship between the “integrity” of the one in view and guidance that this “integrity” yields or provides to him/her. There is also the implication here that (or shall) guide them as they walk through life and face life’s issues and trials.
I think that we all have at least a bit of a grasp on the idea of integrity and the way that this character trait has the profound effect on a person. For many, this concept of human integrity and the effect that it can have (and hopefully DOES have) on our behavior is fairly common. It is commonly thought of as a positive and valuable quality, to be seem with esteem and developed with some real zeal. The word is one rarely used in the Hebrew OT. “Toom-maw” being used only 5 time in the OT. It could be rendered as purity or innocence and so, in the context of one’s character carries the idea of innocence or respectability, speaking of a spotless character.
Solomon, in this particular place, has this spotlessness in character in his view in this first part of our verse. He does not seem to be speaking of the idea of innocence so much as the idea of that moral capacity which has led to the innocence in the first place! As we have seen as we have considered other, nearby passages, King Solomon has been making clear a contrast in life and conduct in matters of work, diligence, ambition, speech, truth, stability, honesty, integrity, fidelity, guidance, graciousness, kindness, and so on that he began back at the beginning of chapter 10 and will continue through to the end of chapter 11.
Many commentators to note (here and many other places in Proverbs) that what Solomon describes in terms like he uses here speak in numerous fashions of the path of righteousness and, Solomon being a Prophet of God, is ultimately descriptive and prophetic of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the perfectly Righteous One (John 14:6). Here and in other places in the Book, we can clearly see that all other ways lead to destruction (cp. Matt. 7:13–14; Acts 4:12).
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