Proverbs: Wisdom and the Tongue

This morning, our lead pastor Nic Gibson spoke about the impact of wisdom on the power of the tongue. Here are the verses and the lists referenced in the service. Let’s pray for God to convict us when we use our words for harm – and to empower us to use our words for giving life.

What Proverbs says about wisdom and the tongue:

(18:7) A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.

(29:20) Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

(18:13) He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.

(20:25) It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows.

(21:6) A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.

(19:9) A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.

(26:18-19) Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”

(26:17) Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passerby who meddles in a quarrel not his own.

(18:6) A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.

(27:3-3) Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both.

(26:6-7) Like cutting off one’s feet or drinking violence is the sending of a message by the hand of a fool. Like a lame man’s legs that hang limp is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

(26:4-5) Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

(13:3)  Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

(10:31)  From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced.

(10:21)  The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.

(27:5-6)  Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

(12:6)  The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them.

(12:18)  Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

(14:3)  A fool’s talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.

(30:8)  Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.

(16:24)  Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

(16:13)  Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.

(25:15)  Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

(16:21)  The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.

(25:11)  A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

(25:12)  Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.

(17:27)  The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.

(31:8-9)  Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

(12:22)  The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.


Perverse use of the tongue:

  1. Maligning someone with gossip
  2. Intemperance: Giving vent to vice without restraint – especially in anger but also in cutting words, sarcasm, mocking, etc.
  3. Giving rash vows (lying): Speaking, promising or vowing rashly – or any speaking before real consideration
  4. Flattering and boasting: Self-praise or not giving rightful praise to others (Psalm 12:3)
  5. Teaching or advertising folly and foolishness (James 3)
  6. Quarreling: Creating drama by starting a quarrel, stirring it up and not letting it die. Gossip is partly keeping drama going by stirring up drama so it can’t burn out.
  7. Speaking reckless words: “Pierce like a sword”
  8. Slandering: Attacking someone in front of others (Psalm 15:3)
  9. Gloating and contempt: Showing contempt for failure and gloating in success – especially over the poor
  10. Butting in: “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passerby who meddles in a quarrel not his own” (Proverbs 26:17)
  11. Lying, being deceitful, or promising without following up on the promise
  12. Betraying a confidence (gossip): Hurting the person it’s about
  13. Grumbling and ingratitude: Especially toward God, father and mother
  14. Falsely accusing: Especially blameworthy
  15. Spreading gloom: Singing songs with a heavy heart. Failure of cheerfulness.
  16. Hurtful joking:”Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking!’”(Proverbs 26:18-19)

Virtues of a godly tongue:

  1. Peacemaking: Covering over an offense to promote love – forgiving and not bringing it up again
  2. Healing: Speaking healing words
  3. Noble: Approves of the good, true, honorable, godly and beautiful – and not the converse
  4. Rebuking wisely: Truthful and wise correction to a receptive person for their good
  5. Faithfully carries another’s message: Not adding or taking away – and maintaining the tone
  6. Powerfully gentle: Wields enough power to break a bone with gentle words – “a gentle tongue can break a bone” (Proverbs 25:15)
  7. Grateful, cheerful and humorous: Speaks with sensitivity – doesn’t “sing songs to a heavy heart,” expresses gratitude to people that served them (for example, parents)
  8. Prudent: Listens and considers carefully before speaking, will not speak through an untrustworthy messenger
  9. Restraint: Knows when not to speak or speak too much
  10. Temperate: Does not flair up in anger and become defensive, argumentative or quarrelsome
  11. Intimate (using discretion): Does not betray a confidence – uses absolute discretion


Your vocal chords are your superpower. Be a hero and use them for good.

  1. Reject expressionism
  2. Get the speck out of your own eye first
  3. Don’t go along with perverse speech
  4. Help other people see life and truth in other ways of speaking



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