James 3:4
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.

New Living Translation
And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.

English Standard Version
Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.

New American Standard Bible
Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.

King James Bible
Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.

International Standard Version
And look at ships! They are so big that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the helmsman directs.

NET Bible
Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot's inclination directs.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Also, mighty ships, which are steered by the wind and a hard small piece of wood, are driven to wherever the will of the helmsman determines.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
The same thing is true for ships. They are very big and are driven by strong winds. Yet, by using small rudders, pilots steer ships wherever they want them to go.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Behold also the ships, which though they are so great are driven of fierce winds, yet they are governed with a very small rudder, wherever the governor desires.

King James 2000 Bible
Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven by fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small rudder, wherever the pilot desires.

American King James Version
Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, wherever the governor wants.

American Standard Version
Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, are yet turned about by a very small rudder, whither the impulse of the steersman willeth.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Behold also ships, whereas they are great, and are driven by strong winds, yet are they turned about with a small helm, whithersoever the force of the governor willeth.

Darby Bible Translation
Behold also the ships, which are so great, and driven by violent winds, are turned about by a very small rudder, wherever the pleasure of the helmsman will.

English Revised Version
Behold, the ships also, though they are so great, and are driven by rough winds, are yet turned about by a very small rudder, whither the impulse of the steersman willeth.

Webster's Bible Translation
Behold also the ships, which though they are so great, and are driven by fierce winds, yet they are turned about with a very small helm, withersoever the governor willeth.

Weymouth New Testament
So too with ships, great as they are, and often driven along by strong gales, yet they can be steered with a very small rudder in whichever direction the caprice of the man at the helm chooses.

World English Bible
Behold, the ships also, though they are so big and are driven by fierce winds, are yet guided by a very small rudder, wherever the pilot desires.

Young's Literal Translation
lo, also the ships, being so great, and by fierce winds being driven, are led about by a very small helm, whithersoever the impulse of the helmsman doth counsel,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

3:1-12 We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the greatest evils. The affairs of mankind are thrown into confusion by the tongues of men. Every age of the world, and every condition of life, private or public, affords examples of this. Hell has more to do in promoting the fire of the tongue than men generally think; and whenever men's tongues are employed in sinful ways, they are set on fire of hell. No man can tame the tongue without Divine grace and assistance. The apostle does not represent it as impossible, but as extremely difficult. Other sins decay with age, this many times gets worse; we grow more froward and fretful, as natural strength decays, and the days come on in which we have no pleasure. When other sins are tamed and subdued by the infirmities of age, the spirit often grows more tart, nature being drawn down to the dregs, and the words used become more passionate. That man's tongue confutes itself, which at one time pretends to adore the perfections of God, and to refer all things to him; and at another time condemns even good men, if they do not use the same words and expressions. True religion will not admit of contradictions: how many sins would be prevented, if men would always be consistent! Pious and edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified heart; and none who understand Christianity, expect to hear curses, lies, boastings, and revilings from a true believer's mouth, any more than they look for the fruit of one tree from another. But facts prove that more professors succeed in bridling their senses and appetites, than in duly restraining their tongues. Then, depending on Divine grace, let us take heed to bless and curse not; and let us aim to be consistent in our words and actions.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 4. - Second illustration, showing the importance of the tongue and its government. The rudder is a very small thing, but it enables the steersman to guide the ship wherever he will, in spite of the storm. Whithersoever the governor listeth (ὅπου ἡ ὀρμὴ τοῦ εὐθυνοντος βούλεται, א, B); whither the impulse of the steersman willeth (R.V.); Vulgate, impetus dirigentis.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Behold also the ships, which though they be so great,.... Of so large a bulk, of such a prodigious size, and are such unwieldy vessels:

and are driven of fierce winds; with great vehemence, rapidity, and swiftness:

yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth; the helm, or tiller of a ship, is a beam or piece of timber fastened into the rudder, and so coming forward into the steerage, where he that stands at helm steers the ship (e), who is here called the governor; or "he that directs", as the word may be rendered; that is, that steers; the word for "helm" is translated rudder in Acts 27:40, and the helm or tiller is sometimes, though improperly, called the rudder itself (f); and this is very small, in comparison of the bulk of the ship that is guided by it (g). Aristotle calls it , "a small helm", as the apostle here does, and accounts for it how large ships should be moved and steered by it. And so, though the tongue is to the rest of the body as a small helm to a large ship, yet, like that, it has great influence over the whole body, to check it when it is carrying away with the force of its appetites and passions; and so churches, societies, and bodies of Christians, which are large and numerous, and are like ships upon the ocean, tossed to and fro with tempests, driven by Satan's temptations and the world's persecution, and ready to be carried away with the wind of false doctrine, yet are influenced and directed aright by those that are at the helm, the faithful ministers of the word, who say to them, this is the way, walk in it.

(e) Chambers's Cyclopedia, in the word "Helm". (f) lb. in the word "Rudder". (g) Quaest. Mechanic. c. 5.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

4. Not only animals, but even ships.

the governor listeth—literally, "the impulse of the steersman pleaseth." The feeling which moves the tongue corresponds with this.

James 3:4 Additional Commentaries
Context
Taming the Tongue
3Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!…
Cross References
Matthew 11:27
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Acts 27:11
But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.

James 3:3
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.

James 3:5
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
Treasury of Scripture

Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, wherever the governor wants.

are driven.

Psalm 107:25-27 For he commands, and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves thereof…

Jonah 1:4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a …

Matthew 8:24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, so that the …

Acts 27:14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

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