A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.…
There are three parties whose wrath it may concern us to appease by mild and submissive language.
I. THE WRATH OF GOD. He is provoked every day by the crying sins of an ungodly world, and would quickly break out as a devouring fire upon it, but that there are, and always have been in it, humble and holy men, who have been much given to confession and prayer. Illustrate by Moses, the prophets, and Daniel as intercessors in their day. See also submissive response of Nineveh to the warning of Jonah.
II. THE FURY OF A TROUBLED CONSCIENCE. It is allayed by a soft answer, i.e., by obviating the terrors of God's threatenings with a just display of His infinite mercies.
III. THE INFLUENCE WHICH AN OFFENDED SERVANT S CARRIAGE HATH UPON HIS OFFENDED MASTER. If the offender, when reproved, returns a mild and yielding answer to his master, he commonly assuages his wrath and prevents the further progress of it. But if he gives saucy and contemptuous language upon such occasions, he exasperates his master's passion, and renders his own offence much more provoking than it was before. Two things are advised in this text —
1. That an answer be made.
2. That it be ingenuous.It is not wise to stand mute, nor to delay answer, but the answer should be soft and temperate. Illustrate ease of David and Nabal (1 Samuel 25.). Ingenuous submission does not always succeed, because it does not always meet with ingenuous and placable minds on the other side. Sometimes, too, the offender is a mere reprobate, who does but flatter with his tongue. Some commentators interpret the text as a common maxim of peaceable conversation, teaching us to avoid all unnecessary contentions which spring from pride, ambition, emulation, and a remorse, wrathful and splenetic nature. He that is desirous to live at peace in the world must consider that both himself and other men have many infirmities; and that, in matter of right and wrong, other people will take the liberty to differ from his opinion, and will sometimes contradict and thwart him, even when he has the clearest truth and reason on his side. He must expect to meet with pride, self-love, and confidence in others; and he must not imagine that his own conversation is always free from the influence of such irregular passions. Therefore he must resolve to bear reproof and opposition with patience, because it is quite possible that he may deserve it
; and if he does not, those who converse with him may think so. He who would save himself and others much trouble and contention must not be too apt to censure and find fault with things when they are tolerably well. The practice of the text is not every man's talent. The weakness of our minds, or the warmth of our temper, commonly making it a difficult task. David was some years in learning the due observance of this lesson. Grievous words are inconsistent with good policy, and contrary to true religion. The Lord Jesus never spake unadvisedly with His lips, so He calls upon all His disciples to learn of Him this lesson of meekness. It is almost always of advantage to give soft answers.
(W. Reading, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.