A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.…
I. ILLUSTRATE THE TRUTH OF THIS PROPOSITION BY SOME EXAMPLES FROM SCRIPTURE HISTORY (Genesis 13:8, 9; Genesis 32:3-5; Judges 8:2, 3; 1 Samuel 1:15, 16; 1 Samuel 26:18-20).
II. ENDEAVOUR TO ACCOUNT FOR THE PREVALENCE OF MILDNESS OVER WRATH FROM THE CONSIDERATION OF THE PASSIONS CONCERNED. Obstinacy of temper is increased by opposition, as much as it is abated by yielding. Thus says the son of Sirach, "He that striveth with a man of tongue heaps wood upon his fire." Though we have truth on our side, though we are able to support that truth by the most irrefragable arguments, yet if these are pressed with scorn and bitterness their reasonableness will not so much enforce as their virulence disparage them. To conclude:
1. Acquiescence and submission in our language and manner, as far as truth and generosity of spirit will allow, is an argument of our prudence; it is as profitable to society as it is acceptable to God, as it captivates the hearts of men, and as it consequently contributes to our own honour, quiet, and safety.
2. It is an argument of the politeness of our education, for none but spirits unreclaimed by civil converse vent themselves in boisterous language.
3. But it is not only an argument of prudence and politeness, but of magnanimity; the greatest man is never more triumphant than when he overcomes insolence with humility, and wrath with meekness.
(H. Usher, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.