|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:11-15 There is a practice in the East, of charming serpents by music. The babbler's tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison; and contradiction only makes it the more violent. We must find the way to keep him gentle. But by rash, unprincipled, or slanderous talk, he brings open or secret vengeance upon himself. Would we duly consider our own ignorance as to future events, it would cut off many idle words which we foolishly multiply. Fools toil a great deal to no purpose. They do not understand the plainest things, such as the entrance into a great city. But it is the excellency of the way to the heavenly city, that it is a high-way, in which the simplest wayfaring men shall not err, Isa 25:8. But sinful folly makes men miss that only way to happiness.
Verses 12-15. - Section 14. The mention of "the master of the tongue" in ver. 11 leads the author to introduce some maxims concerned with the contrast between the words and acts of the wise, and the worthless prating and useless labors of the fool. Verse 12. - The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; literally, are grace (χάρις, Septuagint); i.e. they net only are pleasing in form and manner, but they conciliate favor, produce approbation and good will, convince and, what is more, persuade. So of our blessed Lord it was said, "All bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words (τοῖς λόγοις τῆς χάριτος) which proceeded out of his mouth" (Luke 4:22; cutup. Psalm 45:2). In distinction from the unready man, who, like the snake-charmer in the preceding verse, suffers-by reason of his untimely silence, the wise man uses his speech opportunely and to good purpose. (A different result is given in Ecclesiastes 9:11.) But the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. This is a stronger ex-prosaic, than "ruin" or "destroy." Speaking without due forethought, he compromises himself] says what he has shamefully to withdraw, and brings punishment on his own head (cutup. Proverbs 10:8, 21; Proverbs 18:7).
Ῥῆμα παρὰ καιρὸν ῤιφθὲν ἀνατρέπει βίον.
"Untimely speech has ruined many a life."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious,.... Or "grace" (u). He speaks kind and good things in favour of the characters of men, and not as the babbling detractor: he speaks well of civil magistrates and rulers in the state; of the ministers of the word in the church; and of all his fellow creatures, as far as can with truth be said: and a truly good and gracious man, who is Solomon's wise man, in opposition to a fool and wicked man; his discourse will run upon the grace of God, upon the doctrines of grace, and upon the experience of the truth of grace on his heart: upon the grace of God the Father, in loving and choosing men; in contriving their salvation; in making a covenant of grace with them in Christ; in sending him to die for them, and in accepting his satisfaction and righteousness for them: and on the grace of the Son, in becoming their surety; assuming their nature, dying in their room and stead, interceding for them, taking care of them, and supplying them with grace out of his fulness: and on the grace of the Spirit, in regeneration and sanctification; working in them faith, hope, and love; applying precious promises to them, and sealing them up to the day of redemption: of these things they speak often one to another, and cannot but talk of the things they have felt and seen: and such words and discourses are gracious, graceful, and grateful to truly pious souls, and minister grace unto them; and are also well pleasing and acceptable to God and Christ, as well as gain them favour among men; see Proverbs 22:11;
but the lips of a fool swallow up himself; his words are not only able and displeasing to others, but bring ruin upon himself; by talking too freely of rulers and others, he brings himself into trouble, and plunges himself into difficulties, out of which he cannot easily get; yea, is swallowed up in them, and destroyed. Or, his "lips swallow up him" (w); the wise man, whose words are gracious; and, by his calumny and detraction, his deceit and lies, brings him into disgrace and danger: or, "swallows it up", or "that" (x); the grace of the wise man, or his gracious words; and hinders the edification of others by them, and the good effects of them. Though the first sense seems best.
(u) "gratia", Montanus, Mercerus, Drusius, Cocceius, Rambachius. (w) "deglutiet eum", Montanus; "absorbent eum", Piscator, Rambachius. (x) "Illam", Munster, Cocceius; "quam labia stulti velut absorbendo sufferunt", Tigurine version.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. gracious—Thereby he takes precaution against sudden injury (Ec 10:11).
swallow up himself—(Pr 10:8, 14, 21, 32; 12:13; 15:2; 22:11).
Ecclesiastes 10:12 Parallel Commentaries
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