In Order. Punctuate It

June 7. Proverbs 13 – 15


As you read today’s chapters from the book of Proverbs, take a few moments to enjoy the presentation of these nuggets of truth and wisdom: the punctuation.  Notice the frequent use of the semicolon or the colon. Pause and reflect on the frequency of the explanation point or the question mark.

The period is abrupt in comparison to the comma, semicolon or colon. When you are reading a verse that not only ends with a period but contains one somewhere else in the verse, there is a sense of absolute finality. Period. It is done. It is established. Nothing more to say. For example, is there much more that can be said or argued about in this verse?


13:13 Despise God’s Word and find yourself in trouble. (period) Obey it and succeed. (period)


As you read a verse that contains a semicolon or colon you are being offered more information beyond the words only. The punctuation of the sentence can complement and enhance the words that are being ferried by the sentence. Semicolons offer hope of change before the sentence ends or a warning that things could change before the sentence ends. Look at these verses:


14:11 The work of the wicked will perish; (semicolon) the work of the godly will flourish.


This verse begins with the work of the wicked, but before the absolute stoppage of the period, you have a new thought introduced by the semicolon. What a great statement of hope God is offering to us - If your work has been wrongly motivated in the past, if you have done wickedly there is hope before life ends before the day ends you can change. Who you were and what you did yesterday does not have to be who you are and what you do today.

The opposite is just as true, who you are today and what you do today may not be true tomorrow. Be careful.  Here is an example of the warning aspect of the punctuation in mid-sentence.


15:4 Gentle words cause life and health; (semicolon) griping brings discouragement.


If you are doing the right thing, how quickly it can change and end differently. You may be kind, caring and gentle today, but tomorrow you will be given another opportunity to choose who you will be and what you will do.

Read God’s Word with care. It is more than a collection of proverbs, words, and ideas. God’s Word can transform your life! Understand that your present condition does not have to be your permanent condition, you have a choice every day, every moment, to live on either side of the colon or semicolon.

But as you live your life and make your choices understand that there are some absolutes about God, they are final. Done. Established. Non-negotiables. Period. Make your choices based on those hard stops, the periods in the Proverbs, and you will discover the joy, purpose, and success in life; or the doom and gloom of life.


13:9 The good man’s life is full of light. (period) The sinner’s road is dark and gloomy. (period)