Proverbs 10:20-21

The Tongue of the Just



1. This section of chapter ten deals with the subject of the tongue or speech.

2. So far Solomon has spoken about the evil use of the tongue.
♠ Lying lips (vs.18)
♠ Slander (vs.18)
♠ Talking too much (vs.19)

3. Now in vs.20, he speaks of the VALUE of the speech of the righteous.

The tongue of the just is as choice silver…

1. The just

a. This speaks of a righteous man… one justified by faith.

b. This man stands in stark contrast to the wicked (vs.20b)

2. This passage illustrates the fact that there is a difference between the just and the unjust… between a believer and an unbeliever.

a. The difference is a changed heart… a new nature.

b. The fruit of a just man’s heart will eventually be manifested in his mouth… through his speech… what’s in a man’s heart will come out of his mouth.

c. The believer has two natures and has a capacity to produce good fruit or evil fruit.

d. The believer has a capacity to use his mouth for good or for evil.
• When we use our tongue for good, it is godly; Christlike; pleasing to God.
• When we use our tongue for evil, we sound no different than the unbeliever! Flesh is flesh!

e. Solomon describes the difference between the kind of speech that characterizes the just man and that which characterizes the wicked in this passage.

3. The tongue of the just is as choice silver.

a. This is a simile—a figure of speech using like or as—“as” choice silver.
• Just men don’t literally have a silver tongue.
• But they are in a figurative sense “silver tongued.”
• A simile compares two things which are NOT literally similar, but there is a sense in which they are similar.

b. In what sense is the tongue of a godly man like choice silver?
» Choice silver is silver that has been refined and has had all the impurities removed.
» Choice silver is therefore much more valuable than ordinary silver.
» Choice silver is also much shinier and more beautiful.
» Choice silver is also relatively rare.

4. The tongue of the just has had impurities removed.

a. Ps. 12:6 – God’s words are like choice silver too—purified in a furnace seven times! (7 = perfectly purified!)

b. Eph. 5:4 – “There is no filthiness, nor foolish talking nor jesting which are not convenient” in his mouth.

c. When a godly man speaks, godly people can relax. You don’t have to worry about impurities flying out at you!

d. When a godly man or woman tells a joke, you don’t have to wonder whether it is clean or not.

e. As believers we need to carefully weigh what we say.
• We need to consciously remove any dross from our speech.
• Godly speech is pure speech.
• There can be no mixture of purity and impurity either… just as there is no communion between light and darkness.
• Not only is it sin to say blatantly evil things… it is just as sinful to say things that are “shady”… leaving doubtful innuendoes in the minds of others… purposely using ambiguous terms that can be understood in a dirty sense…
• That is not choice silver. That is tarnished silver… full of dross.
• Col. 3:8 – we are to put off “filthy communication out of our mouth.”

f. It is not necessary that as believers our speech is interesting… or erudite… or scholarly… but it is necessary that our speech be pure… with all the impurities removed… like choice silver.
• Our speech should be pure…
• Free from the impurity of ulterior motives… manipulation by flattery… impure designs… selfish intentions… free from the dross of guile and slander…
• Our speech is to be pure and free and cleansed from all that.

5. Choice silver is therefore much more valuable than ordinary silver. The tongue of the just is also valuable.

a. The one who owns much choice silver has a valuable treasure that can be used for much good.

b. Speech is like that. It is valuable and can be used for good.

c. Prov. 15:4 – the speech of the righteous is a tree of life—a source of health, fruit, life, nourishment…

d. It can edify believers and minister grace to the hearers (Eph. 4:29).

e. Ps. 37:30-31 – the law of God is in his heart… and it comes out!

f. Ps. 71:24 – my tongue shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long! That is choice silver!

g. Our tongues are valuable when they are used to praise God… valuable to God. (Heb. 13:15)

h. The apostles did not have much “silver” in this life.
• Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none.”
• Paul said of himself and other apostles, “as poor, yet making many rich.”
• How did the poor apostles make many rich? Spiritually!
• With their tongues they spread choice silver generously wherever they went!
• They used their speech to teach God’s Word… to exhort and encourage the saints… to build up the body of Christ.
• They had no physical silver or gold, but choice silver poured out of their lips for many, many years!

i. Do you use your tongue for things that are truly valuable in light of eternity?

j. Are others ENRICHED by our speech?

k. How we use our tongues today will be judged and rewarded accordingly at the Bema. Only THEN will we recognize the true value of our speech.

6. Choice silver is also much shinier and more beautiful. The tongue of the just is producing beautiful speech.

a. Choice silver is clean and pure… shiny… and able to be used in fine jewelry. Silver, with chunks of dross and streaks of stone mixed in, is not quite as beautiful… and is not able to be used in fine jewelry.

b. When our speech is like choice silver—it too has a beauty all its own.

c. Prov. 25:11-12 – like apples of gold in pictures of silver—beautiful!
• Such words can be also like earrings of gold—beautiful!
• As beautiful artwork and jewelry are to the eyes, so are beautiful words to the heart… the inner man.

d. There is nothing quite like words fitly spoken… properly timed… tactfully phrased… and delivered in kindness. There is nothing quite as valuable as that to a thirsty soul. That is choice silver! Beautiful!

7. Choice silver is silver that is carefully selected.

a. Choice = to choose; to elect

b. Choice silver is silver that is chosen… on a counter of silver, stones, and silver ore, the choice silver is the one that would naturally be chosen…

8. Choice silver is also relatively rare. The tongue of the just… wise, well thought out, controlled, edifying speech is relatively rare…. And thus more appreciated.

a. The contrast seems to be with vs.18 – a “multitude of words.”
• This speech is not rare. These words are ceaselessly flowing… endlessly rambling on and on and on…
• In contrast to the endless flow of words from the fool—who speaks without thinking, there are the fewer… more rare… and much more valuable words of the just!

b. In heaven speech that is like choice silver will not be rare… but it is today.

9. Just as our tongue can be our shame… it can also be our glory!

The heart of the wicked is little worth.

1. Note the contrasts in this verse:

a. The just and the wicked—two kinds of men
b. The tongue and the heart—two sources of words
c. Choice silver and “little worth”—two measures of value.

2. The tongue and heart run parallel in this verse.

a. What the tongue says originated in the heart. The heart is the source of all of our words.

b. Matt. 15:18 – “but those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart…”

c. Matt. 12:35 – this is true of the just and the wicked… two kinds of men will produce two kinds of speech, over all.

3. That which proceeds out of the heart of the wicked…

a. In context, he is speaking about WORDS… flowing from the heart and then through the mouth…

b. These words are of “little worth.”

c. What a contrast between choice silver (worth a lot!) and “little worth.”

d. The wicked might produce a multitude of words (vs.18) but there is little worth or value in any of it.

e. The just may say few words… but they are valuable, choice words!

f. If words continually flow out of our mouth without thought… (speaking before we think), those words will not be very valuable (certainly not rare!)… and they will be of little value to edify another.

4. What comes out of our mouth is our choice.

a. We can decide to use our mouth for valuable purposes… or for worthless purposes.

b. Our words can be pure or impure.

c. Our words can be well chosen… or thoughtless.

d. The choice is ours.

e. And eventually, every word we have spoken will be evaluated by the Lord… and either rewarded or burned up.

f. Let’s use our tongues as instruments by which others are enriched… with choice silver… something valuable they can keep with them…

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