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20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;

    he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

    and those who love it will eat its fruits.

People underestimate the power of words.  It’s said that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword,’ but perhaps words written by the pen are really mightier than the sword.  Words can both create and destroy, build up and tear down.  And once spoken, words can’t be taken back, no matter how many apologies are given or how many wishes to ‘unspeak’ them are made.  We all struggle with words, trying to say words that are edifying and holding back those that bring pain.  It’s a battle lived every day.

There are times where we speak words before we’ve heard the ‘rest of the story.’  We somehow believe we’ve read the mind of those we’re with, and can answer their questions, concerns, and problems before they’ve finished saying them (Proverbs 18:13).  And when we’re done enlightening the one we’re talking to, we’re surprised to hear that we’re way off base and their issue had nothing to do with the advice we supplied.

At other times, sometimes to our great surprise, our words are soothing and healing, providing comfort and a sense of personal value (Proverbs 16:24).  When these words are spoken, we can sometimes see the physical reaction of healing quality, much the same as good chocolate or a great cup of coffee.  And, while they provide the hearer comfort and value, they also influence us, the speaker.  We realize we can really help someone by using words that build up and edify, and this helps us, too.  Proverbs 18 has several things to say, sometimes indirectly, about words.  Read this chapter and take note of those verses relating to words and their impact.

1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
3 When wickedness comes, contempt comes also,
and with dishonor comes disgrace.
4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
5 It is not good to be partial to [a] the wicked
or to deprive the righteous of justice.
6 A fool’s lips walk into a fight,
and his mouth invites a beating.
7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.
8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
9 Whoever is slack in his work
is a brother to him who destroys.
10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
11 A rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.
12 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
13 If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.
14 A man’s spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
16 A man’s gift makes room for him
and brings him before the great.
17 The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.
18 The lot puts an end to quarrels
and decides between powerful contenders.
19 A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;
he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the Lord.
23 The poor use entreaties,
but the rich answer roughly.
24 A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

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By Rich Obrecht  

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