The “tongue” is a primary focus of today’s devotional from Proverbs 10. It is startling to read this chapter and note the number of verses Solomon devotes to a man’s speech, words, tongue and conversation (Proverbs 10:6, 8, 10-11, 13-14, 18-21, 31-32).
Knowing Solomon’s concern for speech, you and I would be wise to pause and consider our own use of the tongue. Let’s look at Proverbs 10:6, 11 and take from today’s proverb an exhortation for living Bible truths.
Proverbs 10:6 – “Blessings are upon the head of the just [morally upright]: but violence covereth [conceals; shuts] the mouth of the wicked.”
Proverbs 10:11 – “The mouth [speech] of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”
Proverbs 10:6, 11 give us a contrast between the just and righteous who live morally upright lives and enjoy the overflowing blessings of God and the wicked who walk in the way of sin and ungodliness contrary to the Law and Word of God.
The exact meaning of the phrase, “violence covereth the mouth of the wicked” (10:6b) is admittedly a challenge to interpret. I am unsure if the meaning is that it is the nature of the wicked to conceal his violent intent by shutting his mouth or if the threats of violence by the wicked has moved good men to shut his mouth. Some have suggested the latter interpretation because men condemned to execution have historically had their mouths stopped–some by gagging and others by placing a hood over their head before execution.
We could debate the exact interpretation of Proverbs 10:6, 11; however, the spiritual lesson is certain: It is better to be a just, righteous, upright man who speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and whose speech is seasoned with grace than to be numbered among the wicked whose end is often violent and eternal destiny is hell.
The speech of a righteous man is like a bubbling fountain to a thirsty soul (10:11a), but the speech of the wicked is angry, deceitful and full of violence.
The Book of James contains graphic warnings concerning the power of speech and the tongue. Notice the following verses:
James 3:3-6 – “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”
James 3:8-10 – “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
How is it with your tongue and speech? You might speak with eloquence and convince many you are a spiritual man or woman; however, if you cannot bridle your tongue from gossip, lies and threats–you are not the spiritual man/woman you pretend to be!
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.”