Don't you love it when you say the right thing - in the right way - at just the right time? That is what our proverb is about today. It is about being wise enough to know when to speak - and not only that - but what to speak when you have the opportunity.
The beginning of this proverb starts with a Hebraism about the mouth. There is joy in having an answer of the mouth, which the way that this Hebraism would read. It has to do with the ability to speak well - or in this case to speak what helps others. When speaking of Moses' complaint to God about his inability to speak, this similar Hebraism is used. Moses complained to God that he had a "heavy mouth." This meant that he stuttered and stammered when he spoke. This speech problem made Moses think he could not be a spokesman for God. God gave him Aaron to speak for him, but we see plainly that Moses did not struggle to speak when the Spirit of God moved upon him to confront Pharaoh. The mouth of the man here in proverbs knows no such problem. He brings joy to others as they here the "answer of his mouth," which means the perfect thing to say in the moment. Whether this is a word of teaching, reproof, correction, or training in righteousness - the best word to speak is one that is in agreement with God's Word on the matter.
The prophet Nathan spoke the perfect word to David to bring him to repentance over his adultery and cover-up of his sin. Joshua spoke the perfect word to the people of Israel as they needed to decide whether they would serve the Lord. David spoke the perfect word to Goliath to remind him that God was going to give David victory because of Goliath's mocking of God. Daniel had the perfect words to speak to Nebuchadnezzar when he needed his dream interpretted. Jesus always had the perfect word to speak to detractors, to those who were hungry for his Word, and to those who came to Him needy and longing for God's grace and healing.
A timely word is delightful - both to the one who speaks it and to the one who receives it. There are so many who come to church hurting who need to hear such words. They long for a word of encouragement - for someone to lift them up. Others who are complacent and full of themselves need rebuke. Others still may need exhortation because they are timid about following the Lord radically. And a few who are long term church members, but who do not know Christ, need someone to love them by sharing the gospel with them so they can move from just being religious - to being Christians. No matter what the need, God will give us these "answers of the mouth." He will do so as we surrender to Him and desire far more to speak the truth in love - than just to engage in small talk.