Reading through the Bible together

Friday, January 17, 2014

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Today’s passage from Proverbs 13 continues the large collection of Solomon’s proverbs that began in Proverbs 1:8. Many years ago, before the internet that I now use to collect quotations, I used to collect them in the best way I could.  These were quotes on love and marriage, finance, honesty and integrity, and all kinds of other virtues. Since Solomon didn’t have access to internet, he must have somehow kept a list of quotations he came across, but he wrote the Proverbs under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These writings covered a wide range of topics, including but not limited to industriousness, wisdom, parenting, obedience, financial management, integrity, righteousness, communication and so much more.


Words mean things. They are surprisingly powerful. Words hurt or heal. Words build or destroy. And yes, loose lips still sink “ships” of all kinds: partnerships, courtships, friendships, apprenticeships, and ownerships to name just a few. Loose undisciplined lips sink marriages, families, governments, reputations, and careers.


The concept of Divinely controlled speech expressed by Solomon in Proverbs 13:2-5 and touched on again in verse 15, and possibly even in verse 17 (also later in 18:21 and 21:23) was not new with him. He probably learned it from his father David for he recorded the concept in Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips.”  Psalm 39:1 speaks of a muzzle or a bridle to control the tongue. Job refers to the power of the tongue and the need to control it (Job 5:21, 15:3 & 5, 20:12, 27:4). Guarding what we say is so important that it is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament too. James 3 speaks about the power of the tongue and the requirement to control it and use it for good.


“Lord, my prayer today is that You set a guard on my mouth. When anger comes up in me today, hold my tongue. When tempted to speak ill of others or to gossip, hold my tongue. But more importantly, today, I dedicate my tongue to You, Lord. May it be under the control of the Holy Spirit. Use it as You will to build Your kingdom of kindness, love, grace, and mercy to all those around me. Amen.”


David A. Steen
Professor Emeritus
Andrews University