Proverbs 10:6-7

Proverbs 10:6-7 "Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot."
Baptist Church East Aurora NY Proverbs 10:6-7
The contrast between the next two proverbs is a common contrast of Solomon – it is the contrast between the just and the wicked.  The just bring upon themselves blessings while the wicked bring upon themselves shame. Understanding the language and more importantly, the meaning of Solomon's proverbs require an understanding of biblical customs.  The blessings of the just are likened unto precious ointment being poured upon the head, which is portrayed in Scripture as a sign of favor and success.  Oil was poured upon the heads of kings when they were anointed. Oil was also poured upon the heads of priests when they were anointed.  Psalm 133 speaks of Aaron's sacred anointing as incredibly good and pleasant.  Within Jewish culture, pouring sweet-smelling fragrance or ointment on another's head was a sign of favor.  Jesus referenced this custom when rebuking a Pharisee for condemning a woman who showed Christ favor in Luke 7.  In verse 46 of that chapter, Jesus said, "My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman has anointed my feet with ointment."  The sweet Psalmist of Israel spoke of this favor in Psalm 23:5 when he wrote to God, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies: thou anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over."

In contrast to blessings being poured upon the head of the just, Solomon paints the picture of a face covering for the wicked.  While having oil poured upon your head was a token of favor, having someone cover your face in Biblical times was often a sign of disfavor.  In the book of Esther, Haman's face was covered when he was lost the king's favor and was sentenced to death.  Under Judaism, lepers were forced to wear face coverings (Luke 13:45) and required to live separate from the rest of the community, both of which were clear indications that their illness brought them out of favor with their healthy community.

The contrast and truths of verse 6 are best applied to our lives when looking at verse 7.  Our legacy is determined by our morality.  The just receive a favorable legacy while the wicked earn an unfavorable legacy.  A just life results in a revered reputation while a wicked life results in a rotten reputation.  When a person lives a just life, time does that person's reputation and legacy very well.  The memory of such a person is blessed.  The memory of a just person gets better with time.  When a person lives a wicked life however, time does that person's reputation and legacy great damage.  The name of such a person rots and deteriorates with time.

As always, the language Solomon chooses is intended to give us a vivid picture from which to envision the importance of one's morality.  A just person receives a favorable reputation by others without having to say anything as pictured through the pouring of oil on one's head.  A wicked person receives an unfavorable reputation by others and tries to speak on his behalf but has his mouth covered and is ultimately silenced.  It doesn't matter what you say in life if your actions are hurtful.  It doesn't matter how much love you express to someone if your actions are violent.  It doesn't matter how many apologies you have offered in your life if you have consistently done damage to the relationships in your life.  Injustice over the course of a lifetime moves people to cover your mouth and hear nothing you say.  A contentious and violent person becomes inaudible over time and earns a reputation that gets worse over time.  Actions always speak louder than words.

On the blessed contrary, the just are remembered for their fair actions and for that reason, they are remembered favorably.  Being just is being fair with everyone. Being just is being fair with everyone and everywhere. At times, people will not like justice because they will be on the other side of that justice but at the end of life, a just person is always respected and valued.  Again, actions always speak louder than words.  Our legacy is determined not by our mouths but by our morality.  Our mouths may reveal our morality but our souls determine our morality.

When I think of these proverbs, I think of a famous former Buffalo bills running back.  O.J. Simpson was for many years beloved by all.  He was respected for what he did on the football field and he was admired for what he did on the big screen.  He was gifted with a football and he was nearly as gifted a microphone and a camera.  But once it was known that he was guilty of murder, his reputation began to rot.  Society has since covered his face with violence and has forgotten almost all of his words, despite loving those words for many years.  Our morality, not our words, determines our legacy. Fairness brings favor while discord brings disfavor.

How we treat people in our lifetime will determine how people will treat our legacy beyond our lifetime.  What we said will be silenced – only how we treated people will be remembered.  That memory will be blessed by justice or it will rot by injustice.  Take Solomon’s advice and treat people fairly.

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