Proverbs 13:3

Keeping One’s Mouth

3a He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life…


1. Keepeth: guard; watch; watch over; to be kept close; be blockaded; observed as a watchman.

a. Here Solomon speaks of watching our mouths as our own personal responsibility.

b. Nobody else COULD do it for us…

c. Have you ever used the lame excuse after saying something you shouldn’t have: “I couldn’t help it. It just slipped out!”

d. In this passage Solomon makes it clear that we CAN help it.

e. We have been appointed as a “watchman” over our own mouths.

2. HOW do we keep our mouths? How do we protect them and prevent them from saying things we ought not say?

a. Keepeth = same word as in Proverbs 4:23 – keep your heart with all diligence.
• One of the many “issues” of the heart is our mouth and that which comes out of it.
• In order to keep our mouths, we must first keep our hearts… for whatever comes out of the mouth was first residing in the heart.

b. Matt. 15:18 – those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart—and they defile the man. (vs.19)

c. Matt. 12:34b-35 – Everything that flows out of our mouth originated in our heart… good or bad.

d. If we spend our energy trying to watch our mouths and ignore the heart—it is like wiping up the water on the floor from an overflowing sink—while the faucet is still running. Go to the SOURCE!
• The heart is the source of what comes out of our mouths… and we don’t want any poison in that well!
• In fact, Solomon uses the very same term for “keeping” our heart and “keeping” mouths.

e. Proverb 4:23 – Diligence: place of confinement; prison; guard; jail; guard post; watch; observance; jail; prison, guard-house; guard; guard post; act of guarding.

f. Keep with all diligence = to guard with great care… keep it in confinement… like a prison house.
• We are to guard our hearts above all things that are to be guarded.”
• We have a lot of areas in life to pay close attention to and to guard with great care. (spouse; children; job; money; church ministry; actions; property; time; etc…) They all require care, protection, and watching over… guarding.
• But above them ALL, we are to give the greatest diligence in guarding and protecting our heart.
• One writer said that the heart is the citadel of man. If the citadel is taken, the whole town must surrender to the enemy!

g. We give lots of diligence to our bodies; to our finances; to our homes; to our jobs and careers—we should be MORE diligent in keeping our hearts…

h. If that is the case, then our mouths will be protected.


3. Keepeth: (different Hebrew word – synonym) to keep; have charge of. 1a2 to keep; guard; keep watch and ward; protect; save life.

a. Though the term is different, its meaning is virtually the same… the difference is probably for variety rather than a change of meaning.

b. The one who keeps his heart and thus his mouth—will find that this “keeping” goes on to protect his LIFE!

c. One can’t keep his mouth without keeping his heart. And if one keeps his heart—out of it are the issues of LIFE.

4. Life: (nephesh) soul; self; life; creature; person; appetite; mind; living being; desire; emotion; passion.

a. That which breathes, the breathing substance or being,

b. Living being. 1c living being (with life in the blood).

c. The man himself, self, person or individual.

d. The inner man; the seat of the appetites; seat of emotions and passions; activity of mind.

5. Once again, there is a connection between keeping one’s mouth and one’s life.

a. To keep one is to keep the other.

b. Watching our mouths refers to CAREFUL speech… words fitly spoken and well chosen.

c. THINK before speaking: think about which words to use; the manner; the timing; the place; the audience; the attitude; the motive; the effect;

d. There is a fringe benefit to the one who is careful with his speech—the rest of his LIFE is protected… saved from potential trouble and grief.

6. Psalm 141:3 – if we are serious about keeping our mouth, we must give all diligence. But we should also pray and ask the Lord to “set a watch”…

a. On our own, we are UNABLE to guard or tame our tongue. (James wrote: the tongue can NO man tame…)

b. But the Lord can… so we need to pray and rely upon HIM.

c. When we are under the control of the Holy Spirit, our tongue is “kept.”

d. When the flesh is in control—look out! Who knows what might pop out?!

3b But he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction

1. Opening wide the lips: the opposite of keeping one’s mouth…

a. This speaks of one who talks too much… his mouth is always open.

b. This speaks of one who does not carefully choose his words… (wide)

c. This speaks of one who speaks when he should be quiet… (it is a talent to learn to close an open mouth)

d. This speaks of one who has an ungoverned tongue…

e. This speaks of one who does not guard his mouth…

f. Hence, it refers to one who also does not guard his heart.


a. The term: destruction; ruin; terror; a breaking; terror; dismay.

b. Prov. 18:7 – A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

c. Prov. 10:14 – the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

d. The things people SAY can get them in more trouble and cause more pain, suffering, grief, and unrest in their lives than the things they DO.

e. A man’s mouth can be his undoing… can bring ruin… disgrace… shame… loss…

f. His mouth may well be the undoing and destruction of others too.
• Foolish persons have ruined families with their mouths… spreading slander and lies.
• Foolish persons have ruined churches… brought destruction upon the work of God because of their vicious gossip…

3. Examples of such destruction…

a. Saying YES to a salesman too soon…
• Financial destruction: more bills than you are able to pay!

b. Spreading gossip…
• Destruction to your friendships… you may separate chief friends…

c. Betraying confidences…
• Destruction of your trust: you may lose friends… lose trust…

d. Speaking before getting all the facts… (18:13) –
• Destruction: you may earn a reputation for being a fool… a liar and a troublemaker…

e. Saying whatever is on your mind… (Prov.29:11)
• Destruction: what’s on our mind is not always worth saying!

f. Pride… self-exalting speech…
• Destruction: you might become obnoxious in the eyes of others… and of the Lord!
• After pride comes a fall…

g. Sin (Prov. 10:19)
• Destruction: there is no shortage of sin that comes from a mouth that is unbridled and ungoverned.

h. Hurt (Prov. 12:18)
• Destruction: saying something that hurts others… and then regretting it… but not being able to take it back…
• Have you ever said something that really hurt someone else… and then you are grieved because you know YOU caused grief for someone else?

i. Trouble (Prov. 21:23)
• Destruction: (trouble = straits, distress.)
• We can dig a big hole for ourselves with our tongues.

j. Give place to the devil (Eph. 4:27)
• Destruction: place = opportunity
• We give place to the Devil through our mouths at times…
• We give the devil opportunity to divide brethren… churches…
• We give the devil opportunity to destroy our testimony before the world…
• We give the devil opportunity to do harm to the cause of Christ—because of our ungoverned tongues.
• The tongue is set on fire of hell!
• The tongue can be used as an instrument of unrighteousness unto sin… playing right into the hands of the devil!

k. Hasty – trouble! (29:20)
• When we speak hastily, we usually come out with thoughtless, insensitive, hurtful words…
• Then, because of our rash words, we have to deal with the aftermath—the wrath of others… broken relationships… hurt feelings…
• We make rash promises we can’t keep…
• We end up offending others because of a careless choice of words

l. Ecc. 10:20 – Speaking evil of a person… may come back to bite you!
• Speak evil of the king and he will likely find out!
• Speak evil of any man and he might find out.
• Then we deal with the destructive effects:

m. A mouth wide open could bring destruction:
• To our reputation…
• To our credibility….
• To our friendships…
• To our career…
• To our finances…
• To our marriage…
• To our testimony for the Lord…

HOW MUCH BETTER TO GUARD OUR HEARTS and TONGUES—and avoid all that destruction!