The Bible’s Proverbs on Speech (Wise and Foolish Talk)

If you read my family devotionals, or if we’ve talked about spiritual matters in recent years, you probably know that I am a big fan of The Daily Bible.

In fact, it has been one of my top five purchases ever.

For this post, I’m going to “borrow” from The Daily Bible’s topical organization of the Proverbs, concentrating on those proverbs dealing with our speech.

Only, I’m going to use a variety of translations here and not just the NIV (which The Daily Bible uses exclusively).

Wise and Foolish Speech

In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back,
But the lips of the wise will protect them.
(Prov. 14:3 NASB)

The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
(Prov. 15:2 NKJV)

The lips of the wise scatter knowledge, And the heart of fools [is] not right.
(Prov. 15:7 YLT)

The heart of the wise teaches his mouth,
And adds learning to his lips.
(Prov. 16:23 NKJV)

6 The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
7 The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
(Prov. 18:6-7 NIV)

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is perverse in his speech and is a [self-confident] fool.
(Prov. 19:1 AMP)

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.
(Prov. 23:15-16 NIV)

Righteous and Wicked Speech

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.
(Prov. 10:20-21 NIV)

31 The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom,
But the perverted tongue will be cut out.
32 The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.
(Prov. 10:31-32 NASB)

Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
(Prov. 11:11 NIV)

13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk,
and so the innocent escape trouble.
14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward.
(Prov. 12:13-14 NIV)

From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things,
but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence.
(Prov. 13:2 NIV)

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
(Prov. 15:28 NASB)

A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
(Prov. 17:4 NIV)

Appropriate Speech

A man has joy in making an apt answer, and a word spoken at the right moment—how good it is!
(Prov. 15:23 AMP)

To the wise in heart is called, ‘Intelligent,’ And sweetness of lips increaseth learning.
(Prov. 16:21 YLT)

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

Like apples of gold in settings of silver
Is a word spoken in right circumstances.
(Prov. 25:11 NASB)

He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning,
It will be counted a curse to him.
(Prov. 27:14 NKJV)

Keeping Silent

In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
(Prov. 10:19 NKJV)

The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.
(Prov. 12:23 NIV)

The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
(Prov. 13:3 NASB)

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.
(Prov. 17:28 NIV)

He who answers a matter before he hears the facts—it is folly and shame to him.
(Prov. 18:13 AMP)

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.
(Prov. 21:23 NKJV)

Controlled Speech

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
(Prov. 15:1 NIV)

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
(Prov. 17:28 NIV)

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

Flattering Speech

A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.
(Prov. 26:28 NKJV)

Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor
rather than one who has a flattering tongue.
(Prov. 28:23 NIV)

A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his own feet.
(Prov. 29:5 AMP)

Slander and Gossip

Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
and spreads slander is a fool.
(Prov. 10:18 NIV)

A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
(Prov. 11:13 NIV)

A perverse person stirs up conflict,
and a gossip separates close friends.
(Prov. 16:28 NIV)

He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.
(Prov. 17:9 AMP)

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.
(Prov. 18:8 NIV)

He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
Therefore do not associate with a gossip.
(Prov. 20:19 NASB)

Without wood a fire goes out;
without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
(Prov. 26:20 NIV)

Hurtful Speech

He who despises his neighbor lacks sense,
But a man of understanding keeps silent.
(Prov. 11:12 NASB)

The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
(Prov. 12:18 NIV)

There they are.

Whew, I have a lot of improving to do!


4 responses to “The Bible’s Proverbs on Speech (Wise and Foolish Talk)”

  1. John Rufus Avatar
    John Rufus

    Excellent research of God’s word.

    1. Tim Harris Avatar

      Thank you for reading and for the kind feedback, John.

  2. Maurice Avatar

    This is truly an eye opener & a brain tingling presentation of God’s word.
    Yeah, I do have lots of work to do on me!
    Nice work.

    1. Tim Harris Avatar

      Thank you, Maurice. Yes, James was not kidding when he wrote, “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a [complete] man, able also to bridle the whole body.” (James 3:2b NKJV)

      Who among us is perfect in our speech? Certainly not me!

      Blessings to you.

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