Proverbs 11:11 – “By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.”
A proverbial statement might be defined as a short, meaningful saying that expresses a significant, substantial truth for life. In the book of the Proverbs, a proverb is often constructed with two lines, presenting a comparison or contrast. Proverbs 11:11 presents a truth of contrast. Whereas the blessed communication of the upright cause a city to be exalted, the grievous communication of the wicked cause a city to be overthrown.
The first contrast of this proverb concerns the communication of the individuals involved. We are able to recognize that this first contrast concerns the matter of communication because the second line specifically refers to “the mouth of the wicked.”
Even so, the communication mentioned in the first line is described as “the blessing of the upright.” Within this word “blessing” is included all good, gracious, healthy, helpful, edifying, encouraging communication. In contrast, the communication mentioned in the second line is simply presented as “the mouth of the wicked.” Herein the word “mouth” does not provide a specific description. Rather, the implication is made that this communication of the wicked is the direct opposite to “the blessing of the upright.” Thus we are to think of all grievous, harsh, damaging, corrupt communication; and we are to focus our attention upon the source of such corrupt communication – the wicked.
Even so, the contrast of this proverb concerns the character of the individuals involved. The first line defines the character of those who speak with blessed communication as “the upright.” The second line defines the character of those who speak the opposite of blessed communication as “the wicked.” Thereby we are moved to understand that the true source for either blessed communication or grievous communication is the spiritual character of an individual’s heart (See Luke 6:45).
The third contrast of this proverb concerns the consequences of this contrasting communication. The first line presents the consequence for the blessed communication of the upright as the exaltation of the city. The second line presents the consequence for the grievous communication of the wicked as the overthrow of the city. Herein the word “city” is simply intended to represent some community of people. For the children of Israel, in their national context, the most natural application of such a community was “the city.” For believers in this time of the New Testament, in our spiritual context, the most natural application of such a community would be the church. Yet the principle of this verse would have legitimate application to any community of people. As the upright speak their blessed communication, their blessed communication will be the very force by which a community, city, church, etc. is built up unto exaltation. However, as the wicked speak their grievous communication, their grievous communication will be the very force by which a community, city, church, etc. is torn down unto destruction.
Proverbs 11:11 is central to a five verse sequence of proverbial statements concerning neighborly relations with those around us. “An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.”
Thereby we learn that the category of the wicked will be characterized with sinful hypocrisy, spiritual foolishness, and slander (tale) bearing. Furthermore, we learn that the communication of the wicked will be destructive, despiteful, and damaging toward others. Finally, we learn that a community, city, church, etc. will rejoice with great joy when the wicked and their grievous communication is removed from them.
On the other hand, we learn that the category of the upright will be characterized with righteousness, discernment, and faithfulness. Furthermore, we learn that the communication of the upright will be wise, patient, and gracious. Finally, we learn that a community, city, church, etc. will rejoice with great joy when it goes well for the upright, because they will prize the blessed communication of the upright.
So then, we ourselves must examine our communication whether it is the blessed communication of the upright or the grievous communication of the wicked. Wherein it is found to be grievous communication, let us repent of this sinful behavior. Wherein it is found to be blessed communication, let us thank the Lord for the gracious help of His Holy Spirit to bridle our tongue aright.
Furthermore, we must examine the spiritual character of hearts, recognizing that the character of our heart is the source for the character of our communication. Let us examine whether we are hypocritical, spiritually foolish, and slanderous in character, or whether we are righteous, spiritually wise, and faithful in character.
Finally, we must examine the impact of our communication upon those around us. We must examine whether our communication is a source of spiritual blessing or a source of spiritual destruction upon our marriages, homes, churches, job communities, neighborhood communities, etc.