Thoughts on the topic of speech from the book of wisdom
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
This is my favorite all time Proverb when dealing with speech. Whether it is my first memory verse in proverbs, the pithy KJV flow of the verse, or the simple message that appeals to me is hard to decide. No matter – I like / hate this verse!
There doesn’t seem to be any qualifier to the quality of the words; it is simply a statement that covers every situation I find myself in . Too many words are an invitation to sin.
It is interesting that the term “multitude” in the Hebrew can be translated as greatness, and this may reflect a proud mouth, a mouth that spews boasting. This is not definite of course, and no other translation uses this connotation, so I am stretching the meaning a bit much.
But let me ask you a question.
When was the last time you met a man (or woman) that spoke many words, and that didn’t, in those words, speak words of greatness, great and swelling words of pride?
Might there be a link?
He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
Proverbs 13:3 speaks on the same problem, but defines the end game. So often in the Word, the long game is defined, the end result, that without careful consideration on life would be missed. By this I mean, how often have you had verbal diarrhea and not once considered the result of your spouting?
This verse speaks of two results.
A man with restraint maintains his life. A man with out restraint shall have destruction. Notice that the proverb does not say he shall receive destruction. Some of the translations I reviewed speak of destruction occurring, as in above, and some speak of the destruction coming to the one speaking. No matter. This is a splitting of hairs in my opinion, for what believer wants to be a vehicle for destruction? Destruction of family, friends, possessions, possibilities…
Even the destruction of enemies. What? Remember that destruction, for the believer is off limits.
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you
Out last proverb for this post is.
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Solomon is speaking the same thing twice here. He is speaking of a fella that for some reason is quiest, and the perception is that he is a man of wisdom and understanding. Of course, this is an “accidental” result, since Solomon doesn’t state that he IS wise, simply that he is thought of as wise.
I will take it! My wisdom quota is sub par, and if I can gain the appearance of wisdom, simply be “shutting my mouth”, so be it.
But Carl, should not we be concerned about reality as opposed to simply the appearance. Totally agreed. It is so far better to own wisdom, than to appear to have it and fail in the pinch. (Nothing worse than clouds with no rain!)
Proverbs 17:27 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
Having knowledge and appearing wise are two different things. In this culture of appearance, it might be good to remind each other that substance is preferred!
I will close with 4 verses from the New Testament Proverbs, otherwise known as the Book of James for your consideration
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
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