Proverbs 29:20

Hasty Speech

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words?
there is more hope of a fool than of him.


1. This is a simple proverb that makes one statement: men who are hasty with their words are fools… even worse.

A Man Hasty in His Words

1. SEE:

a. Here Solomon highlights a particular individual for observation.

b. The word see means “take a look at;” perceive with your eyes; observe; look and learn.

c. It is often translated “behold.”

d. Solomon is setting before our eyes (figuratively) a picture of a specific kind of person.

2. MAN: He uses the word for a man (a male), but of course, the proverb applies equally well to women.

3. HASTY: to be pressed (for time); to make haste; eager; hurrying or running without purpose.

4. WORDS: The term refers to speech, and not to individual words.

a. He is not speaking about someone who pronounces words quickly so much as a person who speaks without taking time to think.

b. Sometime Southerners think we Yankees talk fast. That’s not Solomon’s point… and people in England think all Americans talk slowly.

5. “A man hasty in his words”

a. Solomon has in mind the person who is always eager to interject something into the conversation; he is quick to give his opinion; he is quick to judge and draw conclusions; he is in a hurry to blurt something out.

b. His words are thoughtless and reckless. His words can be hurtful, destructive, and malicious.

c. This man is often inconsiderate, insulting, inaccurate, ignorant, but a know-it-all, rash, insensitive, selfish, proud, or a combination of the above.

d. We have seen this person before in the book of Proverbs.

6. God is the opposite of this man.

a. Isa. 31:2 – Isaiah says that God never has to “call back His words.”

b. God has never spoken a word that He regretted or had to change, fix, or apologize for.

c. But the man hasty of words is constantly pouring out words that prove to be foolish, inaccurate, or poorly worded or poorly timed.

d. God’s Word is perfect. Ours are not. Hence, there is the need for taking time to speak.

Examples of a Man Hasty in His Words

1. Prov. 10:19 – In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin.

a. There is no lack of sin – in other words, there is a lot of sin that flows from the mouth that never stops talking.

b. Ecc.10:13 – his words begin in folly and end in mischievous madness… but they keep on flowing…

c. In other words, the fool begins to speak folly… but it grows into more and more evil.

d. Like a fire that starts off as a little spark… and increases in heat and intensity and destruction. So too is the speech of the fool.

e. Jas. 3:2 – In many things (said) we all offend. The mouth has a tendency to say things that offend and hurt others; and it is sin to willfully do so.

2. Prov. 14:29 – A hasty spirit results in a hasty mouth; and it exalts folly.

a. The one who has a hasty spirit (easily agitated; easily angered) has a tendency to have a hasty tongue as well. It is his nature.

b. And that results in much trouble. Here Solomon notes that it results in exalting folly. It ends in foolish behavior.

c. A hasty spirit may be easily angered… and then hastily pours out angry words that result in a fight—verbal or physical.

d. Lots of fights begin in barrooms because people who have no control over their spirit or their tongues say things that get others angry at them… and a fight begins… often over something incredibly foolish—over a cigarette… over a sports team… over a comment made about a girlfriend…

3. Prov. 15:2 – His mouth “pours out foolishness.”

a. Pours: Bubbles out like water from a spring (no end!)

b. He pours out EVIL things (15:28) There is usually a connection between folly and evil.

c. He pours out foolish talking and jesting which is not convenient.
• Eph. 5:4 – “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”
• He eventually begins to spout out off colored jokes, or speaks about things that should not be spoken of.
• Eph. 5:12 – “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”
• There are some things that should never be spoken of… but when you never stop talking—those things seem to come out—without thinking.

4. Prov. 18:13 – He answers before he has all the facts.

a. Here is another way a man manifests “hasty speech.”

b. He speaks out immediately without hearing all the facts.

c. He may judge a situation with only having heard one side of the story. That’s hasty speech.

d. He may give a definitive answer before all the facts have been gathered.

e. It is human nature to jump the gun, speak before you have all the facts, and to make assumptions based on a few pieces of information, and thus make up our minds on the matter… before we hear the whole question… or the whole story… or all the details.

f. There are times when that might not make much difference, but there are other times when it can mean disaster! (war among nations… between friends… in a local church!)

g. Hasty speech can ruin friendships and fellowships.

h. Hasty speech is foolish and SHAMEFUL.

i. Shame on us when we speak without thinking… without hearing both sides… without getting all the facts.

5. Prov. 18:7 – His mouth is his destruction. (ruin)

a. A fool’s mouth is his destruction. It will not only hurt others it will be the ruin of the fool himself.

b. The fool will regret having spoken too hastily.

c. There are some good examples of this destruction—the guilt, shame, and ruin it caused to the one who spoke too hastily.
• Judges 11:30 – Jephthah made a hasty vow to God that he greatly regretted later.
• Mark 6:22 – Herod promised the daughter of Herodias anything she wanted up to half the kingdom. She asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod greatly regretted his hasty speech.

There is More Hope of a Fool Than of Him

1. In the book of Proverbs, there are only two kinds of individuals who are worse than the fool.

a. The man who is wise in his own eyes (Prov. 26:12).

b. The man who is hasty in his words (Prov. 29:20).

2. The man who is hasty in his words is unlikely to be corrected.

a. A fool has a better chance of being corrected.

b. Sometimes fools are aware of their shortcomings and can be corrected.

c. But the man who has no control over his spirit or his tongue will never be corrected.

3. THEREFORE – The Bible gives us some words of counsel:

a. Prov. 29:11 – “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”

b. Ecc. 5:2-3 – “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”

c. Jas. 1:19 – “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”