Virtues and Vices of the Tongue
Proverbs 15:1, 2, 4, 7
A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.…

I. MILDNESS AND VIOLENCE. (Ver. 1.) The soft answer is like the water which quenches, and the bitter retort, the "grievous words," like the oil which increases the conflagration of wrath. As scriptural examples of the former, may be mentioned Jacob with Esau (Genesis 32, 33), Aaron with Moses (Leviticus 10:16-20), the Reubenites with their brethren (Joshua 22:15-34), Gideon with the men of Ephraim (Judges 8:1-3), David with Saul (1 Samuel 24:9-21), Abigail with David (1 Samuel 25:23-32). And of the latter, Jephthah (Judges 12:1-6), Saul (1 Samuel 20:30-31), Nabal (1 Samuel 25:10-13), Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:12-15), Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:39).

II. THE ATTRACTIVENESS OF WISE SPEECH AND THE REPULSIVENESS OF FOOLISH TALK. (Ver. 2.) If this verse be more correctly rendered, it means that the tongue of the wise makes knowledge lovely, while the mouth of the fool foams with folly. The speech of the former is apt to time and place - coherent - and wins upon the listener. The latter is unseasonable, confused, nonsensical, repellent. Notice the tact of St. Paul's addresses (Acts 17:22, 23; Acts 26:27-29), and what he says about foolish babbling in 2 Timothy 2:16-18; Titus 1:10.

III. MODERATION AND EXTRAVAGANCE. (Ver. 4.) A calm and measured tone should be cultivated, as well as a pure and peaceful heart; these mutually react upon one another. The extravagant, immoderate, licentious tongue is "like a blustering wind among the boughs of the trees, rushing and tearing the life and spirit of a man's self and others" (Bishop Hail). Beware of exaggeration.

IV. SPEECH A DIFFUSIVE INFLUENCE. (Ver. 7.) The lips of the wise scatter seeds of good around them; not so with the heart and lips of the fool. "They trade only with the trash of the world, not with the commerce of substantial knowledge." The preaching of the gospel is compared to the scattering of good seed, and evil activity is the sowing of tares in the world field (Matthew 13:24, etc.). - J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

WEB: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Turning Away Wrath
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