Have you ever had someone say something to you that was so cutting that it felt like a sword stabbing you in the heart? Unfortunately, those moments happen - and God warns us about them. Today's proverb reminds us that our words can cut deeply when we speak out of anger or resentment - and do so rashly without thinking about what we are about to say.
Solomon warns his son that there are those who will speak out of the wrong kind of passion. They speak in anger and rage. They speak rashly - and therefore do not consider what their words are about to do to the one who is hearing them. Just about everyone in our world has had one of those moments. We speak out of anger to a spouse and cut them deeply to the heart. We speak out of frustration to a child and crush their spirit. We speak out of resentment to a co-worker and damage our relationship with them. Whatever the situation, the key here is not to speak "rashly." This word means to speak thoughtlessly. The fact is that they just do not take the time to think about what they are saying - and to do so with a graciousness that considers the other person's feelings. Therefore their words are foolish and said flippantly. They usually do not know the damage they are causing till later - and sometimes they don't get it at all. We cannot get our words back once we speak them - therefore we should send out our words with some thought before speaking them. James warned in the New Testament that we should be "slow to speak." Following such wisdom will keep us from broken relationships and from having to apologize for saying something stupid.
There are also those whose tongue bring healing. One damages while the other heals. Their statements can comfort those who have been hurt. They can counsel people to do what is necessary to remedy bad choices, bringing spiritual healing to their lives. There is also another way they can speak - and that is with the Scriptures - which can heal a breach between men - but more importantly can heal THE BREACH between man and God. Such words are spoken of elsewhere in Proverbs as apples of gold set in settings of silver - for they are words spoken in a right situation.
One last thing about this particular proverb - and it comes from a personal experience of reading the Scriptures in my quiet time. I remember reading this particular proverb and thinking that I do not want to use my tongue like a fool swinging a sword blindly. But I also began to grieve - thinking that I wished that there was something more powerful than a human tongue. Then the Holy Spirit brought to mind a Scripture that I had memorized. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword. It was then that I realized that although human words can cut us - nothing is as sharp as the Word of God. And whereas the careless words of the fool may damage - God uses His Word to cut in a way that brings healing. Hosea speaks of this in chapter six of his prophecy. God was going to use His word upon His people - and it would wound them. But it would be the kind of wounding that would be bandaged and healed later. It was like the wound of a surgeon - who only cuts to remove a cancerous tumor that will eventually kill us. These are Hosea's words,
"Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him." Here we read how the tongue of the Wisest of all was used to bring healing - even though it cut as the words were heard. May we be those who speak the truth - who speak righteousness - who speak so as to bring healing to others.