Proverbs 18:4

Deep Waters and a Flowing Brook


1. This could be an antithetical parallelism. (contrasting two items)
→ A contrast between man’s mouth and God’s wisdom
→ A contrast between the words of a fool (hidden) and the words of a wise man
»» While possible, I take Solomon’s words differently here.

2. It is better to understand this to be a synthetic parallelism. (building blocks – a statement is made and then added to…)
→ The wisdom of man’s mouth described and then amplified

4a The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters

1. The WORDS of a man’s mouth.

a. The theme of “words” is repeated in this chapter.

b. Vs. 6-8 – He talks about the mouth of a fool and a talebearer

c. Vs. 20 – he mentions good fruit from good words

d. Vs. 21 – the power of the tongue…

2. Deep waters described

• Strong’s: deep; mysterious; unsearchable.
• Profound; that which is below the surface…
• Ecc. 7:24 – that which is far off and exceedingly deep; who can find out?
• The words of a wise man are deep… difficult… mysterious… beneath the surface, and hence requires some effort and meditating to understand.

b. This is meant here in a GOOD sense.
• It is not bad to be deep. It can be very good.
• I Cor. 2:10 – Paul speaks of the deep things of God that can only be understood by means of the Holy Spirit.
• Some truths lie on the surface and are easy to grasp.
• Other truths require digging beneath the surface. They are deep… but worth finding! Worth the effort!
• A wise man has a DEEP treasure chest full of rich gems of truth…
• Prov. 10:14 – He lays it up like treasure in his heart.
• Prov. 10:31 – His mouth is a source of wisdom.

c. Prov. 20:5 – counsel is like deep waters… that need to be drawn out.
• A wise counselor will be able to draw out of a man his true motives… issues… problems…and will help him see them in a true light.
• The point of the “deep waters” is to describe a sense of difficulty in drawing out.
• A well or a cistern has deep waters… and that water takes some effort to obtain.
• The point in 18:4 is that the words of a wise man are often very DEEP, but they CAN be drawn out.
• Wisdom is available… but it takes some listening… discerning… intelligence… diligence.
• Take the words of Solomon for example. His words are wise and deep… but it takes some DIGGING to understand his meaning…
• II Pet. 3:16-16 – Some portions of Scripture are hard to be understood.
• The meaning does not necessarily lie on the surface. You have to THINK.

d. But words that are deep and profound are worth the effort.
• Prov. 2:1-6 – Solomon’s wise words are DEEP beneath the surface.
• However, diligent searching will be rewarded by FINDING the wisdom of his words.
• So keep on digging! Don’t give up.

4b And the wellspring of wisdom as a FLOWING brook.

1. Here Solomon BUILDS on what he had previously said about words of wisdom.

a. Sometimes a wise man speaks and his words are deep.

b. It may require some effort to draw them out of the well… but they are worth the effort.

c. Sometimes words of wisdom are difficult to understand, but with study and meditation and diligence, that wisdom CAN be drawn out and put to good use.

d. Now Solomon adds a couple of additional truths.

2. A wise man not only speaks deep words… but a truly wise man is an endless stream of profound words!

a. Wellspring: a spring as a continual source of flowing water.

b. They just keep on flowing and flowing…

c. Even a fool can say something wise once in a while. But a truly wise man is consistent with his wisdom.

d. The words of wisdom should not be thought of as a stagnant pool, but a flowing stream… cool, refreshing, and continuous… a continuous source of wisdom.

e. The heart of a wise man is an ongoing source of wisdom.

3. CONTRAST: Jer. 2:13 – “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

a. Here is a contrast between a non flowing cistern and a flowing spring.

b. God likens Himself to a “fountain” of living waters.

c. This word fountain is our word “wellspring.”

d. It speaks of an endless source and supply of living waters… the waters of life… water needed to satisfy the thirst… and keep life going.

e. In contrast, the false teachers were like cisterns – a stagnant, limited supply of water…

f. And to boot—BROKEN cisterns. Even if you pour good water in, it will leak out. They could NEVER satisfy thirst… they cannot sustain life.

g. God Himself is the wellspring of life to the godly believer.
• A wise man will have a heart after God…
• A wise man will thirst after wisdom and will FIND it in the Lord and His Word.
• He will be continually drinking in those waters.
• Solomon’s point is that this wise man will ALSO be a source of great words of wisdom to those around him.
• He found an endless supply of living waters in God Himself. He will have wisdom to share… wisdom overflowing… an endless source of wisdom…

4. Prov. 16:22 – “Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it.”

a. Understanding the deep things of God… understanding the deep words of wisdom is an endless source of LIFE (refreshment; nourishment; satisfaction; vitality; etc.).

5. Solomon states this truth several times in Proverbs.

a. Prov. 13:14 – The law of the wise is a fountain of life.
• The term “fountain” is the same term as “well” in 10:11.
• The term means a “spring or flow” (of water).
• It speaks of a flow of liquid or the source of the flow (a spring; a brook).
• It is translated “wellspring” in Prov. 18:4.
• Again—a fountain of water that provides continual flow of cool refreshing water… a wise man’s mouth provides a continual flow of refreshing wisdom.

b. Prov. 10:11 – The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life.
• The term “well” is the same term as “wellspring”. It speaks of a spring or flowing fountain… not a stagnant pool or a cistern.
• As a spring of water, it is an ongoing source of refreshment and satisfaction.

c. John 7:38-39 – A truly wise man is yielded to the Holy Spirit… and in him will be an endless flow of wisdom and blessings of all kinds… sourced in God Himself.

3. Sometimes the words of a wise man do NOT require a lot of digging. They are right there on the surface… easily obtained… like water out of a flowing stream or brook.

4. Application:

a. Make friends with wise men—they will be a source of great spiritual understanding.

b. Make friends with men who have a deep relationship with God Himself—the wellspring of living waters. That person will have wisdom overflowing—and enough to share with you.

c. Even better, BE such a wise person!