Proverbs 12:8

Commended According to Wisdom


1. This proverb contrasts the attitudes people have towards others.

2. Those who are wise are commended and those who are perverse are despised.

3. The proverb doesn’t say WHO it is making these judgments. (Who is commending or despising)

4. It implies that this is the attitude of people in general.

5. Like any proverb, there are exceptions to this principle, but this IS the general rule: wise men are praised; perverse men are despised.

8a A man shall be commended according to his wisdom.

A. According to His Wisdom

1. The wise man is commended.

a. His commendation is directly linked to his wisdom.

2. Wisdom: this is not the most common term for wisdom in Proverbs.

a. This term means: prudence, insight, understanding;

b. It is the term used in Prov. 1:3—

c. Prov.1:1-3 – The book of Proverbs was written for this purpose: that its readers might obtain this kind of insight and understanding.

d. This kind of wisdom and insight does not require superior intelligence.
• It is offered to the simple and the young… (Prov. 1:4)
• It is not just for the scholar, but for the one who will humble himself enough to listen… pay attention… (Prov. 1:5)
• The one who is willing to hear… to listen… pay attention… will understand, and shall attain unto wise counsels.

3. This kind of wisdom is not so much cerebral as it is a matter of the heart.

a. A heart that hungers for God’s wisdom WILL attain it.

b. A heart that is willing to hear will hear and will understand.

c. A heart that is closed up, set in its ways, unwilling to hear—will NOT understand… and will not attain to wise counsels.

d. John 7:17 – Jesus put it this way: the heart willing to DO what God wants will understand what God wants.
• Others will cry out, “It’s all too complicated. It’s too deep for me. Tell me something else.”
• The wisdom God wants us ALL to have is NOT too deep for any saint.
• Sometimes deep down inside we don’t WANT to know—because it will make us accountable… responsible to respond in obedience…

4. But there will always be SOME folks (a few—willing to walk the narrow way) who will be WILLING to hear… willing to DO… and thus ABLE to understand.

a. Those folks will be the ones who have prudence… wisdom… understanding… insight in spiritual truths… a firm grasp of spiritual things… discernment… insight…

b. They will have the discernment to distinguish between holy and unholy, clean and unclean.

c. They will hold firmly to the deep things of God—and hunger for more and more.

d. These are the folks that not only HAVE insight and discernment, but also are willing to share and distribute it… to offer wise counsel to others…

B. He Shall Be Commended

1. Commended: 1 to shine; to flash forth light. 2 to be praised, be made praiseworthy, be commended, be worthy of praise.

a. Perhaps we might think of it in the sense of having the spotlight put on him… to make him stand out as worth looking at…

b. This man will SHINE… and others will take notice.

c. This man will have a reputation for wisdom…

2. I Kings 10:1-6 – Early on, SOLOMON earned a reputation for wisdom. He shined among men.

a. The Queen of Sheba came from afar to hear of his wisdom.
• Even the world recognizes a man of great insight and wisdom… and the world values that.
• Solomon wasn’t sought out because he was rich or handsome or intelligent… but because he had a reputation for wisdom… and had insight.
• This queen commended Solomon for that very reason.

b. During those years when Solomon practiced the wisdom God gave him, he stood out among men. He shined brilliantly and earned a reputation. He was commended of men… according to his wisdom.

3. JOSEPH was commended according to his wisdom.

a. The Pharaoh recognized his wisdom and insight, and elevated him to the position of Prime Minister of Egypt!

b. Gen. 41:38-44 – Joseph was commended and elevated because of his wisdom.

c. God gave him great insight. He lived by that wisdom—and it was obvious to onlookers.

4. DANIEL was also commended according to his wisdom.

a. Dan. 6: 1-3 – an excellent spirit was found in Daniel.

b. The king commended him… praised him… and elevated him.

5. The Bible describes many faults and flaws in godly men. However, not one negative thing is said of Joseph or Daniel in the Bible.

a. All we know about these two men is that they were wise and godly.

b. Even the world acknowledged them for this—and they were both commended… and elevated to high positions.

c. There are occasions in the world when even a BELIEVER is praised — not for his faith, but for his wisdom, dedication, insight, etc.

d. I am told that Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft is a believer. Though most in the media would not speak highly of his faith—yet they DO acknowledge that he is a man of wisdom and integrity… I have heard quite a few media folks praise him for this. He has been commended for his wisdom… just as Solomon suggests in Prov. 12:8.

6. This is the kind of testimony that God would have us ALL to have in the world.

a. If we live godly, and demonstrate wisdom in our lives—at work, at school, wherever we are—then we too will earn a reputation of wisdom… which even folks in the world will have to acknowledge.

b. I Pet. 2:12 – maintain a testimony of wisdom and godliness such that even if they do speak evil of you—they may be FORCED by your wise behavior—to glorify God.

c. I Pet 3:16 – walk in wisdom and integrity such that if folks do speak evil of you, they will be ashamed—deep down inside… because they are forced to acknowledge your wisdom—and commend you for it… at least inwardly.

d. A world that on the one hand hates the faith in God—will be FORCED to acknowledge the wisdom of God.

e. John 7:46 – This was certainly true in the life of CHRIST. They had to commend His wisdom.
* To a lesser degree, this can be true in our lives as well.

8b But he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.

1. Perverse:

a. to bend; twist; distort; to do wrong

b. Used in Lam.3: 9 – “he hath made my paths crooked.”

2. Heart: inner man; mind; will, heart; understanding…

a. The inner life of this man is bent… twisted…

b. His thinking is off base… off color… perverse…

c. The man of a perverse heart is one with a twisted way of thinking… a twisted mind… a distorted view of the world… of life… of values… bent out of shape…

3. This man is despised.

a. Despised:
• To be held in contempt; contempt springing from evil; a reproach; a shame;
• Used in Prov. 18:3 (contempt = despised)

b. Even the world does not like this kind of man.

c. Matthew Henry: “All that have a true sense of honour will despise him as unworthy to be dealt with and unfit to be trusted, as a blemish and scandal to mankind.”

d. There are many men in the world (unsaved) yet they have a sense of honor.
• Solomon is saying that all believers and even the unsaved who have a sense of honor will despise the man whose thinking is twisted.

e. Mal. 2:8-9 – The priests were corrupt… bent… twisted… perverse spirits.
• The people expected to hear words of wisdom, but instead they heard nothing but corruption.
• These perverted spirits perverted others too.
• Nobody respected these priests. They were not commended.
• Nobody respects corruption—even those who are corrupt don’t respect it.

f. In many different realms, the man who shows a lack of wisdom… whose thinking is not right… is despised.
• Politicians who exhibit great wisdom are commended—and voted back into office… sometimes.
» But politicians who make a fool of themselves… and demonstrate a lack of wisdom and sound judgment—no one likes.
• Not all men in the ministry are wise. Some are not straight as arrows, but are bent.
» Those who love the Lord will commend a servant of the Lord with insight and wisdom…. But they will not appreciate one who demonstrates thinking that is off base… twisted… doesn’t line up with Scripture, but is bent…
• Not all parents exhibit wisdom and understanding.
» Those who do are commended, but there are some who do not.
» Some demonstrate twisted thinking… they let their kids run wild… they set poor examples for them… they bring up rebels… and as a result, they are a reproach.
• The same principle holds true in the workplace.
» Some bosses (saved or unsaved) demonstrate insight… an understanding of human nature… they know how to handle people… they are kind but firm… they get the job done because they are wise. They are commended.
» But others are twisted… bent… unfair… egotistical… have twisted values… They are a reproach… despised.


1. Solomon is teaching here that ultimately, it is WISDOM that brings honor—not riches, talent, good looks, or popularity… but wisdom and insight.

a. II Cor. 10:18 – And also, ultimately, it is whom the Lord commends that counts.

b. Many wise men never receive much commendation on earth—but they will one day when they stand before the Lord.

2. And what is it that makes men despised?

a. It is not poverty or a low IQ… it is not bad luck or a lack of talent.

b. It is a perverse spirit… twisted thinking… a mind and a heart that is crooked.

c. Even crooked men admire those who do things right… who are wise.

d. They don’t live up to those standards themselves, but they expect believers to. They may not like all our views—but they appreciate someone who is honest… wise… straight as an arrow—everything they are not.

e. Herein lies our testimony in the world.