Proverbs 12:18
There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
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(18) There is that speaketh.—Rather, that babbleth, like the piercing of a sword, that chatters on, not noticing or caring how he may wound the feelings of others by his inconsiderate remarks.

The tongue of the wise is health.—Or, healing; soothing the wounds made by the other’s indiscriminate chatter.

Proverbs 12:18-19. There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword — Words that are cutting and killing; opprobrious words, which grieve the spirits of those to whom they are spoken, and cut them to the heart; or slanders, which wound the reputation of those of whom they are uttered, and perhaps incurably; or whisperings and evil surmisings, which divide and cut asunder the bonds of love and friendship, and separate those that have been very dear to each other; but the tongue of the wise is health — His speech, both in judgment and in common discourse, is sound and wholesome in itself, and tends to the comfort and benefit of others, closing up those wounds which the backbiting tongue had made, restoring peace, accommodating matters, and persuading persons at variance to a reconciliation. The lip of truth shall be established, &c. — The speaker of truth is constant, and always consistent with himself, and the more and longer his words are tried, the more doth the truth of them appear; whereas liars, though they may make a fair show for a time, yet are easily and quickly convicted of falsehood. Truth may indeed be eclipsed for a little while, but it will come to light: it is great, and will prevail. “Those, therefore, that make a lie their refuge,” says Henry, “will find it a refuge of lies.” Houbigant translates this verse, “Perpetuity is in the lip of truth: the tongue of falsehood is for a point of time.”

12:16. A foolish man is soon angry, and is hasty in expressing it; he is ever in trouble and running into mischief. It is kindness to ourselves to make light of injuries and affronts, instead of making the worst of them. 17. It is good for all to dread and detest the sin of lying, and to be governed by honesty. 18. Whisperings and evil surmises, like a sword, separate those that have been dear to each other. The tongue of the wise is health, making all whole. 19. If truth be spoken, it will hold good; whoever may be disobliged, still it will keep its ground. 20. Deceit and falsehood bring terrors and perplexities. But those who consult the peace and happiness of others have joy in their own minds. 21. If men are sincerely righteous, the righteous God has engaged that no evil shall happen to them. But they that delight in mischief shall have enough of it. 22. Make conscience of truth, not only in words, but in actions. 23. Foolish men proclaim to all the folly and emptiness of their minds. 24. Those who will not take pains in an honest calling, living by tricks and dishonesty, are paltry and beggarly. 25. Care, fear, and sorrow, upon the spirits, deprive men of vigour in what is to be done, or courage in what is to be borne. A good word from God, applied by faith, makes the heart glad. 26. The righteous is abundant; though not in this world's goods, yet in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, which are the true riches. Evil men vainly flatter themselves that their ways are not wrong. 27. The slothful man makes no good use of the advantages Providence puts in his way, and has no comfort in them. The substance of a diligent man, though not great, does good to him and his family. He sees that God gives it to him in answer to prayer. 28. The way of religion is a straight, plain way; it is the way of righteousness. There is not only life at the end, but life in the way; all true comfort.The thought which lies below the surface is that of the inseparable union between truth and justice. The end does not justify the means, and only he who breathes and utters truth makes the righteous cause clear. 18. speaketh—literally, "speaketh hastily," or indiscreetly (Ps 106:33), as an angry man retorts harsh and provoking invectives.

tongue … health—by soothing and gentle language.

Speaketh like the piercings of a sword, hurtful and pernicious words, whereby they either corrupt men’s minds and manners, or scandalize them, or injure them in their reputation, estate, or life, or otherwise.

The tongue of the wise is health; his speech, both in judgment and in common discourse, is sound and wholesome in itself, and tending to the comfort and benefit of others.

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword,.... Whose words are like sharp swords, cutting, wounding, dividing, killing; see Psalm 57:4; such are the words of false witnesses, who by their false testimonies and perjuries are as guilty of the murder of men as cutthroats; such are the words of slanderers, backbiters, and talebearers, who grieve the innocent, wound their characters, destroy their good name and credit, and separate chief friends; and such are the words of antichrist, who looks like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon, Revelation 13:11;

but the tongue of the wise is health; or "healing" (e); by giving a faithful testimony which sets matters right; by clearing and defending the character of those who are falsely accused and wrongfully charged; by making up differences, and reconciling persons at variance through the detracting and lying insinuations of others; and by speaking comfortable, cheerful, and refreshing words to the injured and abused; especially the tongue of a wise minister of the Gospel is health, or healing, to wounded souls, to whom he ministers the Gospel of the grace of God, which directs to Christ for healing, peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life.

(e) "medicinae", Junius & Tremellius; "medicina", Piscator, Cocceius; "sanatio", Michaelis; "sanatrix", Schultens.

There is that speaketh like the piercings of {i} a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

(i) Which seek nothing more then to provoke others to anger.

18. speaketh] Rather, speaketh rashly, R.V.; scattereth thoughtless words, as one might recklessly brandish a naked sword.

“Many a word at random spoken

May wound … a heart that’s broken.”

Verse 18. - There is that speaketh. The word implies speaking thoughtlessly, rashly; hence we may render, "a babbler," "prater." Such a one inflicts wounds with his senseless tattle. Like the piercings of a sword. The point of the simile is seen when we remember that the edge of the sword is called its "mouth" in the Hebrew (Genesis 34:26; Exodus 17:13, etc.; comp. Psalm 59:7; Psalm 64:3). The Greek gnome says -

Ἀλλ οὐδὲν ἕρπει ψεῦδος εἰς γῆρας χρόνου

"A sword the body wounds, a word the soul." Vulgate, est qui promittit, which restricts the scope of the clause to the making of vain promises (Leviticus 5:4; Numbers 30:7-9), continuing, et quasi gladio pungitur conscientiae, "And is pierced as it were by the sword of his conscience." where "conscience" is added to make the meaning plain. Such a man suffers remorse if he breaks his promise, or if, like Jephthah, he keeps it. The tongue of the wise is health; it does not pierce and wound like that of the chatterer, rather it soothes and heals even when it reproves (Proverbs 4:22; Proverbs 10:11). Proverbs 12:1818 There is that babbleth like the thrusts of a sword,

     But the tongue of the wise is healing.

The second (cf. Proverbs 11:24) of the proverbs beginning with ישׁ. The verb בּטה (בּטא), peculiar to the Hebr., which in the modern Hebr. generally means "to speak out" (מבטא in the grammar: the pronunciation) (according to which the lxx, Syr., and Targ. translate it by אמר), means in biblical Hebr., especially with reference to the binding of oneself by an oath (Leviticus 5:4), and to solemn protestations (Numbers 30:7, Numbers 30:9, according to which Jerome, promittit): to utter incautiously in words, to speak without thought and at random, referred erroneously by Gesenius to the R. בט, to be hollow, probably a word imitative of the sound, like the Greek βατταρίζειν, to stammer, and βαττολογεῖν, to babble, which the lexicographers refer to a talkative person of the name of Βάττος, as our "salbadern" [ equals to talk foolishly] owes its origin to one Jenaer Bader on the Saal. Theod. and the Graec. Venet. give the false reading בּוטח (πεποιθώς). כּמדקרות חרב stands loco accusativi, the כּ being regarded as a noun: (effutiens verba) quae sunt instar confossionum gladii (Fl.). We also call such a man, who bridles his loquacity neither by reflection nor moderates it by indulgent reference to his fellow-men, a Schwertmaul (sword-mouth) or a Schandmaul (a mouth of shame equals slanderer), and say that he has a tongue like a sword. But on the other hand, the tongue of the wise, which is in itself pure gentleness and a comfort to others, since, far from wounding, rather, by means of comforting, supporting, directing exhortation, exercises a soothing an calming influence. Regarding רפא, whence מרפּא, Dietrich in Gesenius' Lex. is right. The root-meaning of the verb רפא (cognate רפה, to be loose, Hiph. to let go, Hithpa. Proverbs 18:9, to show oneself slothful) is, as the Arab. kindred word rafâ, rafa, raf, rawf (râf) shows, that of stilling, softening, soothing, whence arises the meaning of healing (for which the Arab. has ṭabb and 'alkh); the meaning to repair, to mend, which the Arab. rafâ and rafa have, does not stand in a prior relation to to heal, as might appear from Job 13:4, but is a specializing of the general idea of reficere lying in mitigare, just as the patcher is called ἀκέστρια equals ἠπήτρια,

(Note: Whether ῥάπτειν, explained neither by Curtius nor by Flick, stands in a relation to it, we leave out of view.)

from ἀκέομαι, which means equally to still and to heal. Since thus in רפא the meanings of mitigating and of healing are involved, it is plain that מרפא, as it means healing (the remedy) and at the same time (cf. θεραπεία, Revelation 22:2) the preservation of health, Proverbs 4:22; Proverbs 6:15; Proverbs 16:24; Proverbs 29:1, so also may mean mildness (here and Proverbs 15:4), tranquillity (Proverbs 14:30; Ecclesiastes 10:4, calm patience in contrast to violent passion), and refreshing (Proverbs 13:17). Oetinger and Hitzig translate here "medicine;" our translation, "healing (the means of healing)," is not essentially different from it.

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