Proverbs 10:31-32

Wise and Discerning Speech

31a The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom

1. The mouth of the just has been mentioned already in this chapter.

a. Vs. 11 – a well of life…

b. vs. 13 – wisdom is found

c. vs. 20 – as choice silver… valuable

d. Vs. 21 – feed many… a source of spiritual edification for others.

2. Brings forth wisdom…

a. The righteous man is a source of wisdom.

b. He learns wisdom. He seeks wisdom. He stores up wisdom.

c. He is a well of life… a fountain of information on living life…

3. The emphasis in vs. 31 seems to be on the continuing nature of this wisdom.

a. These are all antithetical parallelisms.
• A poetic style in which opposites are put back to back for the purpose of comparison.
• Ex: vs. 29- strength to the upright; destruction to workers of iniquity.
• Ex: vs. 30 – the righteous will never be removed from the land; the wicked will not inhabit the land.

b.Verse 31 does not seem to be an exact antithetical parallelism – the righteous brings forth wisdom; the forward tongue is cut out.
• The righteous and the froward are opposites.
• But bringeth forth wisdom does not seem be the opposite of cutting out the tongue.
• A possible explanation is found in another translation: the mouth of the just KEEPS ON bringing forth wisdom… while the tongue of the froward is cut out… stops.
• Then, we have true opposites—one that continues; the other does not.
• The NASV seems to capture this shade of meaning: The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom… (implies continuous action)

c. This seems to add to what Solomon has already said about the mouth of just men. Now he adds that it is not only a source of wisdom, but a continually replenishing source! A renewable source of wisdom.
• Just men continually seek after wisdom… and hence they keep on discovering more and more!
• Just men are wise enough to know that they don’t know it all. There is always more to learn… and they keep at it.
• The fool thinks he knows it all, and hence, does not seek more wisdom.
» Why bother?
» You can try to talk sense to a fool, but he will roll his eyes and not pay attention. Why should he listen? He thinks he knows it all already. He has nothing to learn. That is folly and vanity at its worse.
• The just man is not like a fool. He listens. He hears. (Prov. 1:5) He is continually increasing in learning and wisdom.
• That is why wisdom is associated with age. Wise, righteous men keep on learning. They are continually being replenished with wisdom. They continually read God’s Word… and keep on learning… and listening.
• In that sense, we should all be lifelong students of God’s Word.

4. The mouth of the just brings forth wisdom like a spring bubbles up water. It is not like a stagnant pool… but more like a spring or a flowing stream… a continual supply…

a. You want advice? You need wisdom?
• Study the Scriptures and become wise…
• And go to a godly man or woman who has been walking with God for many years!

b. If you have gained wisdom over the years—do what Solomon says here: let it flow out! Bring forth wisdom… don’t keep it all to yourself!

c. One of the most serious mistakes of modern churches in America—even the fundamental churches—is that everything is geared around the youth.
• The older saints are not being used as they ought… not being tapped for the valuable wisdom they have accumulated!
• Church growth folks are taking surveys of the youth to find out what kind of a church they would like.
• We would do much better to tap the wisdom of the older saints… the epistles COMMAND us to!
• The last 20 years has seen a huge push towards counseling… yet the New Testament says that if younger women are having marriage problems or problems with their kids they are to go to the older women in the church and tap their wisdom!
• The mouth of the just keeps on bringing forth wisdom. Shame on us if we ignore the wisdom of older saints.

31b But the froward tongue shall be cut out.

1. Froward: perverse; wicked; the opposite of the just or righteous man.

2. While the mouth of the just keeps on flowing out with wisdom, the tongue of the perverse man shall be cut out. It shall NOT continue to wag!

3. Unfortunately, fools often talk too much.

a. Prov. 10:19 – in a multitude of words there is no lack of sin!

b. Ecc. 5:3 – a fool is characterized by an abundance of words.
• He has an opinion on every subject—whether he has done his homework on the subject or not.
• He has something to say about every issue—whether he knows anything about it or not.

c. Sometimes it seems like the froward tongue will NEVER stop.
• Solomon states that in time, they WILL be stopped.
• Eventually they trip over their words… get caught in their lies… others eventually begin to see through their evil intentions…
• The froward tongue will not go on forever.
• Eventually, such men will have to stand before God and give an account for every idle word.
• Some folks who talk non-stop will have an awful to give an account for!
• Evil tongues will not wag forever. Sooner or later they will be “cut out.”

4. Cut out – not literally, but figuratively.

a. There have been some folks who have gossiped, slandered and have separated chief friends. I have been tempted to literally cut out their tongue. Fortunately the fruit of the Spirit is self control.

b. Solomon did not mean literally.

c. But the truth the figure of speech portrays IS to be taken literally.
• The message of the figure is that eventually the tongue of the wicked man WILL be exposed… and dealt with.
• This exposure and treatment may well HURT… as if someone cut it out with a sword.
• Gossips don’t like to be found out. It hurts their pride.
• Those who seek to stir up trouble with their tongue don’t like to be discovered and exposed as a troublemaker.
• A liar doesn’t like to have his lies exposed as lies either.
• The MANNER in which the tongue is finally stopped may hurt a lot!
• Their reputation is ruined; they lose friends; people’s opinion of them plummets; no one can trust them. Ouch!

5. Eventually, however, they will get what they deserve.

a. Psalm 120:2-4 – what does the froward tongue deserve? A sword!

b. Psalm 31:18 – we should pray that froward tongues would be silenced!

c. What a warning to all of us—NOT to use our tongue in that manner.

32a The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable

1. In addition to being a continual source of wisdom… the lips of righteous people also have discernment.

2. Acceptable: good pleasure, delight, favour, goodwill

a. The wicked speak perverse things, but the righteous speak things that are pleasant… delightful… acceptable…

b. They know what to say and when to say it. Their speech is acceptable and well pleasing to God and to those who love God.

c. They are aware of that which is socially acceptable… and stick within those parameters in their speech.

d. There are believers with no social skills whatsoever. They just don’t have the discernment to know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in different settings.
• For example: in this setting—the local church—it may be perfectly acceptable to have a Bible study exposing the errors of Rome.
• But if you are invited to the home of Roman Catholic, it is NOT acceptable to just tear his church apart now that you know many of its errors.
• There is a time and place for everything. Timing means a lot.
• Tearing someone’s church apart is not the best way to win him to the Lord.
e. This doesn’t mean he is a people pleaser with his speech. He does not compromise truth or holiness in order to please the crowd. But he does not unnecessarily offend others with his speech either.

f. They are not caustic and sarcastic, but pleasant.

g. They speak the truth, but they speak it in love.

h. They know the right thing to say and the right time to say, and the right spirit with which to say it.

i. Prov. 15:23 – when they speak, others say, “How good it is!” He speaks the right words in due season. We should cultivate this!

3. Ecc. 8:5 – A wise man discerns the “time and judgment” in his speech!

a. He knows WHEN… to speak and when to keep quiet.

b. He knows WHAT to say… he has the good judgment to know words that are acceptable.

c. This goes for speaking up in prayer meeting too! There are some requests that are not acceptable for public prayer!

4. Ecc. 12:10 – we too should SEEK OUT acceptable words.

a. When you are witnessing to a friend—pray about what words to use… how to present the gospel.

b. When you have to approach a brother who has offended you, seek out the right words to bring it up so that you don’t inflame the situation even more!

c. When you are going to your boss to ask for a raise—rest assured you would go over the exact wording in your mind. Do the same on other occasions!

d. When you have to bring up an issue with your spouse—avoid the inflammatory speech. Seek out acceptable words…

32b But the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness

1. The wicked… the fool… just keeps on uttering frowardness… perverseness.

2. Be careful with your tongue. Out of the same fountain comes both sweet water and foul. Avoid the foul!