A Word Fitly Spoken
1. This proverb was probably intended to be linked together with verse 12 as one proverbial thought.
2. Combined, they liken words spoken and heard to something beautiful.
3. Verse 11 speaks of the beauty of the word from the speaker’s perspective.
4. Verse 12 deals with the beauty of the word from the hearer’s perspective.
1. This expression describes words spoken, but not just any words randomly blurted out.
a. Words are powerful. They can be spoken in many different ways with many different results.
b. This expression describes but one very narrow and unfortunately, often very rare use of words… those that are fitly spoken.
2. First, let’s consider the terminology used:
• The Hebrew word used here is translated 85 different ways in the KJV!
• It has several meanings, but we will consider only those that relate to its use in this proverb.
• This term is commonly used of the word of the Lord in the Old Testament. It is translated “command.” (The ten commands are actually called the 10 words – same Hebrew word – Ex. 34:28)
• However, the term as used in our proverb refers to any kind of utterance; or speech—and the context implies that it is coming from another human being—not necessarily new revelation from the Lord.
• It is variously defined as speech, a message, a statement, communication;
• It is used here of speech in general, and not just one word.
• A speech fitly spoken… a statement fitly spoken… ordinary talk fitly spoken… a conversation fitly spoken… etc.
• This is an unusual word. It is used 36 times in the Old Testament.
• The KJV translates it “wheels” 35 times and “fitly” once.
• It is used to describe all kinds of wheels – military wheels on chariots, cart wheels, a potter’s wheel, spinning wheels, decorative wheels, and threshing wheels.
• This is the term that is also used several times in Ezekiel’s description of the “chariot wheels” that transported the throne of God in his vision in chapter one.
• Ezekiel’s use of the wheel might throw some light on the usage of the term in our proverb.
• Ezek. 1:16 – The prophet speaks of these chariot wheels as wheels within wheels… almost like a gyroscope effect.
1. A gyroscope is defined as “a device consisting of a rotating heavy metal wheel pivoted inside a circular frame whose movement does not affect the wheel’s orientation in space.”
• Ezek. 1:19-21 – The movement of this chariot-throne is described as if these creatures and the wheels were able to move in any direction in an instant… transporting the chariot throne of God at His will.
• It may well be that the concept of a wheel to the ancient mind was equated with perfect BALANCE.
• When a wheel is in balance, it produces a smooth ride.
• When a wheel is out of balance, it provides a bumpy ride.
3. Words FITLY Spoken Described:
a. Words that are in balance with the truth and with God’s Word.
b. Words that are in balance with the immediate situation.
c. Words that are in balance with proper timing.
d. Words that are in balance with the emotional climate.
e. Words that are in balance considering the person(s) to whom you are speaking.
f. Words “fitly spoken” are words that are carefully chosen; carefully placed and arranged.
g. It may also include the idea of words that are spoken with a right spirit and a right attitude.
h. And of course, truth needs to be spoken, but it needs to be spoken in love. “Speak the truth in love.”
4. Some men (and women) seem to think it a high honor to “speak their mind.”
a. They interpret it as being honest and transparent.
b. They pride themselves in speaking out whatever is on their mind.
c. That is actually pretty foolish because way too often, that which is on our minds is not worth speaking. It is not even worth thinking!
• To blurt out whatever is on our minds whenever it pops into our minds spells trouble.
• That kind of person isn’t carefully choosing his words.
• He is not thinking about the proper timing… or the right situation in which to bring up the subject.
• Prov. 29:11 – A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
5. Examples of Words FITLY spoken
a. The words of Abigail to David (I Sam. 25)
• He also took into consideration that she was a woman approaching the man anointed as king. (vs. 23-24)
• She made haste—using proper timing. (vs. 23a – she hasted before it was too late. She took advantage of the window of opportunity.)
• Abigail took into consideration the emotional distress of David and his men. (vs. 25 – you are right in being angry!)
• She encourages him to think of the consequences of acting in anger. (vs. 31)
v. To David, these words were apples of gold in pictures of silver. (vs. 32-33)
b. Paul’s words on Mar’s Hill
• Acts 17:22-28 – He launched his speech by noting the altar that they made to the unknown God. Then he made his point by quoting one of their poets.
• He could have just torn into them as being vile, vulgar, ignorant idolaters.
• Instead, he wisely chose to present the truth in a manner in which it might be received.
• He did not compromise the truth, but he carefully chose his words so as to not unnecessarily offend the Greeks.
• There is an offence to the cross, but the one presenting the message should NOT be offensive.
1. There have been several different interpretations for this expression.
a. Pictures of silver:
• The word “picture” is defined as a setting, or a frame.
• It could be a frame for a piece of art.
• It could be a setting of silver in an engraving.
b. It might not be possible to know for sure what Solomon had in mind and what he was alluding to.
• Some interpret this as silver and gold engravings on a fine piece of furniture in a palace… or perhaps a piece of art.
• Others see it as golden colored fruit placed in a sliver basket used as a centerpiece on a table.
• One man suggested that this might be poetic language describing oranges on a tree after a winter storm in which the oranges were covered with silver-like snow and ice.
• Each of the above descriptions is pleasing to the eye.
2. While we may not be able to know for sure exactly what the author of this text had in mind, one thing is clear: Solomon was speaking of that which was a thing of beauty.
a. That’s the point that is made in this proverb.
b. Words fitly spoken are a thing of beauty.
3. Truth is enhanced when communicated carefully and thoughtfully.
a. Prov. 15:23 – “A word spoken in due season, how good is it!
• Proper timing is an art in itself… knowing when to speak and when to be quiet.
• Ecc. 3:1 – There is “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
• Ecc. 3:7 – There is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
• Truth spoken at the wrong time can be damaging and ineffective, but at the proper time, “how good is it!”
b. Ecc. 12:10 – “The preacher sought to find out acceptable words.”
• This applies not only to preachers, but to us all.
• We should SEEK OUT the right words when confronting others… or a rebuke or reproof is in order.
• Sometimes a teaspoon of sugar helps the medicine go down.
• Seek to speak the truth—but do so in a way that is most likely to be received.
• Truth is piercing enough. It is not necessary for us to couch the truth in caustic words.
• How many times have we spoken to someone, and then walked away and thought to our self, “I shouldn’t have said that. I wish I said it this way instead.” or “I should have waited to tell him. This was not the right time.”
• We have all done that—and kicked ourselves for not thinking it through before we spoke.
• We speaks words that are out of balance and not fitly spoken, and we regret it later. Sometimes those words come back to bite us.
• Like a wheel that it out of balance, words spoken “out of balance” result in a very bumpy ride.
• But how sweet it is when we THINK before we speak… and we choose our words carefully… and we pray about the timing… and we say it in just the right spirit.
c. When truth is spoken “fitly,” it truly is a thing of beauty.
• And like a wheel in balance, it results in a smooth ride.