Pastor Bill Farrow
“He that is void of wisdom despises his neighbor: but a man of understanding holds his peace.” (Proverbs 11:12)
          It is interesting to see how very much the Bible, Old and New Testaments, has to say about the way in which we are think about and interact with those around us, our “neighbors”.  One of the ways that Solomon addresses this topic is by telling his listeners how a wise man addresses those around him, and the reverse of course.  This is what we see here.  
         As we have already mentioned, chapter 10 and 11 are used by the King to make a contrast in life and conduct in various matters of living: namely work, diligence, ambition, speech, truth, stability, honesty, integrity, fidelity, guidance, graciousness, kindness, etc.  He basically says that a man of understanding remains silent rather than spreading harmful information that he might know about his neighbor because of that neighbors’ living so close to him.
         Just to try and set our thoughts in the right direction we want to note that verses 10–11 are an obvious pair in parallel, whereas vv. 9 & 12 are bound by the theme of the slanderous gossip of the wicked against the restrained silence of the righteous. The four proverbs together thus form what is called, in poetry, a chiasmus; namely a rhetorical or literary figure in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order, in the same or a modified form; e.g. ‘Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.’.
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