The Power of the Tongue
Proverbs 18 SCC 11/1/15
SECURITY IS A PRODUCT OF TRUST IN GOD NOT ONE’S WEALTH 10-11
Most people devise ways to ensure security for themselves. These verses explain what is the source of true and false security. First, it is the Lord who is fully able to protect those who trust in Him. It is the ‘name of the Lord’ (signifying the attributes of God with power to protect) that is a ‘strong tower’ (providing safety from harm). So it is in the character of God that a person will be sustained. One can establish his or her life upon God’s character. One who trusts that can constantly return to it for protection.
Second, people often assume they can find this within their own wealth v 11. People with a lot of wealth think they can find a lot of protection from it. However, we have already learned that security is a product of trust in God’s character. So discovering it in one’s wealth is not plausible. Actually, and protection wealth may bring is limited. One may think his wealth is like a ‘strong city’ protecting one from outside elements or like a ‘high wall’ making one’s life invincible to any disasters. The point is money simply cannot shield one from many kinds of problems, disasters, or calamities. Neither will God. But the difference is that God’s character is trustworthy as a source of security throughout life while wealth has no ability to provide security and cannot replace the Lord as the base of it. Worldly wisdom assumes one protects himself with his wealth ‘in his own imagination’.
NB: One of the dangers of material prosperity is it tends to make us think more of ourselves than we should. It lets our imagination tell us we are better and more capable than we actually are. Find your refuge in God alone. You can trust in God because you can count on his character.
A GOOD MARRIAGE OF A MAN AND WOMAN IS A GOOD GIFT FROM GOD
It is biblically true that matrimony is desirable. The Lord sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman making it good by nature. Specifically, finding a mate for life is the sign of the favor of God. The implication is the finding of a ‘good’ wife, which is a ‘good’ thing. This can be broadened into a good marriage affirming the background of Genesis 2:18 where it states that it was ‘not good for the man to be alone.’ In this case the ‘good’ describes that which is pleasing to God, beneficial to one’s life, and is abundantly joyful. God is pleased with the marriage of a man and a woman intending that this union be the basis of sheer enjoyment and pleasure for both throughout life. Marriage should not be trifled with. God has embedded the nature of marriage in scripture.
NB: Marriage is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. God supplies no alternatives to the essence of marriage between a man and a woman. Let me suggest that you have taken vows to your mate that you never took to your career, your hobbies, or your parenting. God never wants to see a wife unloved by her husband or a husband dishonored by his wife.
GOOD FRIENDS ARE NOT NUMEROUS
It is better to have one good, faithful friend than numerous unreliable ones. Just as it is important to have friends, it is important not to have too many friends. Actually, if you think you have a lot of friends, you are mistaken. Friendship includes being loyal and trustworthy. Loyalty is a firm support or allegiance. It is physically impossible to be loyal to a large number of people, or have a large number of people loyal to you. Popularity is not friendship. Don’t mistake many companions chosen indiscriminately as true friends. One who loves you is far better than many who admire you. They may only use you resulting possible painful or harmful consequences.
NB: Concentrate in being a friend rather than finding them. But when you have one, reliable and loving, that is certainly a rare treasure in life.
WORDS HAVE THE POWER TO BE PRODUCTIVE
Our speech can be a continual source of refreshing encouragement 4
The verse begins by stating that the words of the wise are an inexhaustible supply of beneficial ideas and helpful counsel. This use of words normally describes the wise in Proverbs. The figure of ‘deep waters’ suggests that these words are so appropriate that they seem profound. We might ask when this happens, ‘where did you come up with that, it’s nails it.’ The ‘bubbling brook’ suggests that this speech is a continuous source of such profound communication. These words are always helpful, encouraging and appropriate.
Our speech can be satisfying 20
Productive speech is satisfying. Both the ‘fruit of his mouth’ and the ‘product of his lips’ express the idea of productive speech. Twice we are told it produces ‘satisfaction’. Constructive and beneficial speech is gratifying. It has no holes in it. It speaks completely, incorporating words and answers and communication that directly address the need in a full and comprehensive way. It has a positive and uplifting impact.
NB: Why not use your words for a positively powerful effect? Solomon says this is a wise use of one’s speech. The way to do this is to orient your speech so that it is productive in such a way that it constantly supplies refreshing encouragement that fully satisfies those listening to it.
WORDS HAVE THE POWER TO BE DESTRUCTIVE
Fools prefer giving their opinions rather than be instructed by wisdom 2
The double trouble of a fool is a closed mind and open mouth. Instead of gaining knowledge he wishes to share his ignorance. While airing his own opinions he is really only in love with his own ideas. While gushing folly he displays no understanding. His words have no basis in wisdom.
Fools words invite trouble 6
Foolish people get themselves in trouble by what they say. His speech invites controversies and since he is wrong he is punished or in some way put in his place by family, or society. His thoughtless words are out of line and out of place.
What a fool says can ruin him 7
This verse continues the previous point. First his lips open his mouth in v 6 leading to trouble. Now with his mouth still open v 7 his lips, which produced this effect in the first place close, but it is too late to take it back. What he has said has snared him. Now calamity and misfortune follow and ruin him. His speech has become the means of his downfall.
People delight in listening to gossip 8
Here Solomon makes a sober observation about a common trait of humanity. Hearing gossip is like eating a delicacy. Gossip is greedily devoured unfortunately. A whisperer or gossip shares these delectable morsels for consumption with willing listeners bent on hearing the information. These tasty bits are digested, retained, remembered, and regurgitated. You can’t forget it and it alters your thinking.
Speaking too hastily leads to shame 13
When people see themselves as right, they will give an answer before they hear. They are not open to knowledge. Poor listening reveals a low regard for what another is saying or one is too absorbed in self-importance to be sensitive to other’s speech. Solomon says this is folly because it is not wise and ends in shame because wisdom is not gained like this resulting in embarrassing consequences.
Superior’s words can be unjustly harsh 23
One’s social status determines the tone of one’s voice. Here a poor man ‘utters supplications’ for himself pleading his case because he has no choice—like Bob Cratchit asking Scrooge to leave the office at 6pm on Christmas Eve only to be harshly reprimanded as a pickpocket wanting to leave an hour early plus have Christmas Day off. The rich man has hardened himself to such appeals. This is generally the way of the world.
NB: There are many many ways we can be destructive with our speech. The destruction works both ways—ruining the speaker and provoking the listener. This is no way to communicate to one another. Solomon says wise words will not produce this effect. If one ignores that they do so to their own peril.
WORDS SHOULD ARBITRATE DISPUTES NOT CONTIRBUTE TO THEM
Cross-examination is necessary to ensure a fair hearing 17
Whether legal, social, family, or marital, one side in a dispute may seem right but the other for full disclosure must challenge it. Here we see there are two sides to any dispute and some sort of mechanism must be in place so all sides are given a hearing.
God’s word supplies divine arbitration 18
In the Bible casting the lot was often a way to get a yes or no decision from God when a serious and significant dispute needed to be settled. Today Gods Word and its teaching figures prominently determining that divine arbitration we see in the use of lots in the Bible.
Serious disputes create insurmountable barriers among friends 19
Here is the reason for the caution of the previous two verses. Changing a friend into an enemy by abuse is the way we erect walls that become barriers that are then difficult to ever demolish. Restoring friendships after this kind of fracture is nearly impossible. Don’t be contentious!
What people say lead to life or death 21
The warning is that one’s speech alters life. The one saying it and the others hearing it will eat what the tongue says. Its fruit is borne by everyone. So those who enjoy talking, indulging in it, must bear its fruit whether good or bad—life giving or death dealing. The lesson is to be warned—especially if you like to talk much. Wisdom conserves speech.
1. Think before you speak. Think some more and then reconsider before you open your mouth. Once you do you cannot take it back.
2. Your words are powerful. Develop your vocabulary and take the time to speak appropriate words that are timely, beneficial, and encouraging even if you have to deliver bad news.
3. Sometimes we have to say hard things but they do not need to be delivered harshly. You are not trying to be heard as much as you are conveying truth that needs to be heard.