Proverbs 15

Proverbs 15 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence

Words matter so much more than we realize, especially when we consider the fact that they are spoken to immortal souls. Our tongues have the power to either nourish or grieve the spirit of others, and they also have the power to please God or else stir up his wrath. As Solomon says in this passage, ‘a soft’ and humble answer turns away the wrath of God and of men, but a ‘harsh word stirs up anger.’ ‘A gentle tongue is as a tree of life,’ but a perverse tongue can actually break the spirit of others. Of course, words aren’t merely a work of art, but also a conveyor of knowledge through either wisdom or folly, depending upon what is dwelling within the heart and mind of the speaker. Solomon says that the tongue of the wise both ‘commends’ and ‘spreads’ true knowledge to others and instills within them the fear of the Lord, whereas the mouth of fools merely spews out folly.

Because our words do not originate on our tongues or upon our lips, the Lord is also very interested in what is going in our hearts, for they seek to formulate and communicate ideas to others whether good or evil. In v.14 Solomon says “the heart of him who has understanding seeks out knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.” Because the wise man seeks out knowledge for himself, he naturally opens his mouth to share that knowledge with others. The fool, on the other hand, seeks out folly instead of wisdom, and naturally shares his empty and worthless ideas as well. Even in prayer, our words flow out of either knowledge or folly. Solomon says in v.8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.” Indeed, the Lord does care what we say and ask for in prayer, for what we say reflects the state of our hearts. Anyone who pursues folly will naturally make foolish requests of God, but the wise man learns to pray according to Scripture, for he has learned something of the mind of God and what pleases him. He actually studies these things for himself and hides God’s Word in his heart, but those words do not stay hidden for long, for they are soon revealed in his prayers.

But it is not only in the Scriptures that the man of God finds the wisdom of God’s word; he also finds it in the good counsel of others. He purposely seeks it out by going to the wise and learning from their instruction. The fool, on the other hand, scoffs at the very idea of counsel, despising his parent’s instructions and hating any reproof from his fellow man. As a result, his own plans often come to naught because he cannot see beyond his own self-interest. Even in the midst of arguments, he cannot win over another soul to his side, for he cannot control his own temper and gives no thought to the weightiness of his words and what they might do to others. Instead of speaking a timely and gracious word to his companion, he throws knives at them. In comparison, the wise man knows the depravity of his own heart and the great potential he has of harming others by his words; therefore, he ponders how to answer before even opening his mouth. He also prays over the manner in which he is speaking them, for he understands the power and nuance of words and just how much they matter. And he alone knows the joy of speaking a good word in season when he has the mind of Christ, and is walking in the Spirit.

It is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of such wisdom that causes the bitter heart to sweeten, the self-interested soul to love, and the heavy heart to sing in such a way that others are refreshed and cheered by the good news of the gospel put on full display. But the fool merely says whatever comes to his mind naturally, and that is a dangerous for all.