Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 12:25: “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.”
The preventative of “depression” is to not be anxious, and to listen to “a good word.” Jesus made this clear when He said, “do not worry” (be anxious) about life’s necessities (Matthew 6:24-33), or about the future (Matthew 6:34). Losing a job, a game, a loved one, failing a test, or any other tribulation that comes our way can make us react with “anxiety,” and is a challenge to our faith. The father of a demon-possessed boy heard Jesus say, “’If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:23-24). Faith overcomes anxiety.
Being “anxious” burdens down a heart (“heaviness,” KJV), and is also described as “bitterness,” “sorrow of the heart,” “afflicted,” “broken spirit,” “heavy heart.” These terms come from other proverbs:
Proverbs 14:10: “The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy.” No one but God knows our heart’s “bitterness” or “joy” like we do, especially not a “stranger.” Family and friends may have a difficult enough time counseling us through our problems, so why should we expect “a stranger” to share our times of “joy” more than they? Internet “strangers” cannot understand us better than those living around us.
Proverbs 14:13: “Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief.” Proverbs 15:13: “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” “Laughter” is no remedy for a broken spirit, even though it make the face smile. Comedy is momentary relief, but not the solution to “sorrow of the heart.”
Proverbs 15:15: “All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” The truly “merry heart” has “a continual feast,” that is, it has a hopeful attitude, an open spirit, and a lighthearted look at life.
Proverbs 17:22: “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Without the healing of a “merry heart,” a person becomes of frail inner health, and brittle support.
Proverbs 18:14: “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, But who can bear a broken spirit?” Healing begins from within our own spirits, and without that, “who can bear” sickness?
Proverbs 25:20: “Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, And like vinegar on soda, Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” Taking away “a garment in cold weather” obviously makes one colder. “Vinegar on soda” creates an immediate reaction with no lasting effect. Singing songs to a “heavy heart” doesn’t help relieve the heaviness (cold) and has too quick a reaction for lasting relief.
It is “a good word,” however, that does more for “anxiety” than nearly anything else. Words of encouragement, expressing sympathy, expressions of concern, are all showing “a good word” of being loved. The purpose is not to temporarily entertain with songs or comedy, but to support and strengthen the inner spirit of the patient. The best “good word” is about our soul, thus: “Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you’” (Matthew 9:2). Physical sickness is sometimes tied in with spiritual sickness as seen in James 5:14-15: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” To all adrift on the sea of trouble, may we give them “a good word.”
All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.