"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." That is a quote from my dearest mother - and from mothers for generations. My mom was not wanting me to refrain from saying the truth if it was hard - but she was wanting me to learn the principle behind today's proverb of the day. That proverb tells us the wonderful value of speaking pleasant words to others.
The word for "pleasant" here is the Hebrew word, "noam." This word means something beautiful, pleasant, and delightful. The word was used to speak of things that were sen or beheld that were of this nature. The word is used in Psalm 27:4 of the splendor of the Lord. It means to say something that creates delight in someone - yet the words do this because they are wise words as well. The word is also used figuratively of a shepherd's staff and the comfort that is brings to the sheep as it guides them in a good way.
When we speak these pleasant words, we are speaking of God's wisdom - but speaking it in a way that befits the term "honeycomb." We remember a former proverb that told us that more flies are caught with honey than with vinegar. The idea here is that a wise man speaks his words of wisdom - but does so remembering that a harsh word stirs up anger - but soft words can break a bone. Therefore he tries as often as possible to speak pleasant words as he offers the wisdom of God to others. We read here that these words are like a honeycomb. This presents a wonderful picture of nature for us - that points to the value of these pleasant words.
A honeycomb is a wonderful thing in the physical world. It is the place where bees store their honey when they work gathering nectar from flowers around them. They honeycomb was considered the nectar of the gods by the early Greeks because of all the healing properties that they found in it. First it is very healing to skin - even fuctioning as a wonderful antiseptic for skin wounds. It is also healing in that it has been found to have a tremendous amount of anti-oxidents within it. There is also an aspect of honey's usefulness that applies to allergies. In the early days of history people would chew on the honeycomb to help relieve severe allergies. Allergists today say that if we will get local honeycomb and chew on it one to two weeks prior to spring, our sinus and eye allergies would be greatly reduced.
The blessing here is to the soul and the bones of the body. The bones are the source of our blood supply - therefore were seen as the very life-force of the body. Therefore what we are told here is that we become such a blessing to others when we speak gracious and pleasant words to others. Such words will be a soul-healing thing to those who hear them. Just as honeycomb is healthy for our bodies - so beautiful words are to our souls.
Think with me for a moment or two of the majority of words that we hear in our world today. We are currently in an election cycle in our country. We cringe as we realize that once again we are going to be bombarded with the most negative statements made by each candidate about their opponents. The air is heavy with the negativity and the stench of character assassination. This seems to spill over into our world as just about everyone gets caught up - not in pleasant and beautiful words - but in the dark, evil, damaging words of the campaigns. It has gotten to where the two sides are so hateful to each other that there is no middle ground - or ways that we can even speak of the other side without incurring the wrath of someone thinking that we are selling out.
Let me encourage you in the midst of this time to do something to counter our culture. Do you very best to speak as many "pleasant" words as possible to one another. Take the time to notice something good about as many situations and circumstances as possible. Make it your goal to look for the pleasant every single day and speak of it glowingly. Do your utmost to find as much to say about the goodness and grace of God as possible. This way we can be a healing influence in a society that desperately needs a little good news that actually nourishes our souls!