You will notice that Proverbs 13 continues with Solomon’s familiar form—using the conjunction “but” to draw a contrast between two opposing thoughts. For today, we will focus on the power of the tongue to bless or to destroy.
Solomon exhorts his son to be a “wise son” and heed his father’s instructions, unlike the scorner who scoffs at loving discipline and correction (13:1). Solomon exhorts his son to consider the influence of a man’s words and conversation. Words are powerful and the force of them, for good or evil, can shadow a person for a lifetime! Notice that a man’s words can minister grace and kindness or provoke violence and conflict. Solomon writes:
Proverbs 13:2 – “A man shall eat [consume; devour] good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul [desire] of the transgressors shall eat violence.”
The words of a good man are a blessing, like fruit to a hungry soul. However, the words of the wicked alienate and promote strife. Many families have suffered alienation of loved ones and wasted precious years because of words spoken in anger and haste. Comprehending the power of words, Solomon exhorts his son to guard his lips and restrain his mouth for the sake of his testimony and reputation.
Proverbs 13:3 – “He that keepeth [bridles; watches] his mouth keepeth [preserves] his life [Guard your lips]: but he that openeth wide his lips [a big mouth; rash with words] shall have destruction [come to ruin].”
A man who opens his mouth without weighing his words sows the seeds that lead to his own destruction (13:3b).
What a practical truth for us all. We would spare our loved ones and ourselves a lot of sorrow if we would learn to bridle our lips! Too many families have suffered irreparable harm because of ill-advised words and proud, unrepentant spirits.
James 1:26 – “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”