July 5th 2018 – Proverbs 15:4-7

A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
    but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
A fool despises his father's instruction,
    but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,
    but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.
The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
    not so the hearts of fools.

Proverbs 15:4-7

More about words: For 'wholesome' in 4, the RSV has 'gentle', and the NEB 'soothing'. The root idea in the word is 'healing'. A healing tongue is the tongue of a peacemaker (cf Matthew 5:9), and it’s opposite (4b) need not be involved in active malice or ill-doing. Foolish speaking that is merely ill-advised or thoughtless can be sufficient to break the morale of someone who has, it may be, been battling for long enough with adverse circumstances, and the thoughtless prattle is the final straw that breaks the camel's back, and the hard-pressed saint goes down into bleak and black discouragement. In 5 we have the 'generation-gap' syndrome once again: 'My father is a 'square', he does not understand'. This is something the Scriptures will not countenance. The way to learn is to listen. The reference in 6 is not necessarily to material wealth, although it is included, but rather moral and spiritual riches. If so, then association with such a house will bring much enrichment. Surely this is something we prove in our experience as Christians. We all know homes in which it is a pleasure and joy to share fellowship, and in which we find blessing and enrichment because it is a right home and the people who live there are right people. There is a dynamic in 'rightness'. Conversely, in a house where the people are not right, infections of various sorts become sadly contagious. In this connection, we should note the association of 'heart' with 'lips' in 7. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he, and if the heart is not right, the influence of even ordinary talk will be decisive. Nothing a man does or says is really right, when he himself is wrong.