9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
The path of integrity is not easy, but it is worth taking. The person of integrity is values driven, doing the right thing no matter the circumstances. This builds a virtuous character as prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude are developed by steady repetition. Those who take crooked paths, however, are not driven by values but by convenience. They take the easy path in the moment, without considering where it will take them in the long term. It turns out that this is not only much more complicated, it is also much more dangerous. While those with integrity are secure in who they are and where they stand, the devious person lives with the constant danger of exposure.
“Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.” The malicious wink is deceptive, hinting one thing while planning another. How can you trust such a person? One moment you think you’re part of the scheme, the next that the joke is on you. It is foolish to involve yourself with such people, even more foolish to be one. While those who wink say too little, the chattering fool says too much. His constant embellishments and exaggerations cost him his reputation, accomplishing the opposite of what he had hoped.
“The mouth of the righteous man is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” The righteous man will tell you what you need to hear, even when you don’t want to hear it. Follow his advice and your life will improve, he will not let you descend into foolishness. The wicked, by contrast, tell you what you want to hear with no concern for your well-being. Their advice only leads to decisions you will regret. Consider advice carefully and ask yourself: Is this what I need to hear or only what I want to hear?