Ouch, Ouch, Ouch! 3 Piercing Proverbs

Posted on March 20, 2023


By David Ettinger

Too Much Feistiness
There are those who are so timid they would not even speak up if someone spits in their face.

There are those who are diplomatic, and would just as soon stay quiet rather than stir up an argument – even when they know they’re right.

There are those who do speak up, but choose their words carefully – so carefully, in fact, they never get to the point.

I am none of the above. I too often speak first and think later; fight back rather than let an offense pass. It’s the feistiness in me, I suppose. This feistiness, when executed at the right time, can be effective, but more often than not it gets me in trouble – and at times hurt others.

This is why during my recent reading through the Book of Proverbs I found myself taking a guilt-beating at the hands of 3 piercing Chapter 15 verses. All 3 concern the words we speak, and I found myself thinking, Okay, inspired Word of God, I got it. I’m convicted!

As such, I need to better implement what I read, but while I’m working on that, I thought it would be good to examine the primary words of these proverbs and gain some more insight into them (though they speak clearly as it is!).

Proverbs 15:1
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Key word 1: “Gentle.” Hebrew: Rak. Meaning: tender, fainthearted, delicate.

Key word 2: “Harsh.” Hebrew: ehtseb. Meaning: painful, hurtful, sorrowful.

Rewording the Verse: “A tender, fainthearted, or delicate answer turns away wrath, but a painful, hurtful, or sorrowful word stirs up anger.”

Reaction: Hmm, words such as “tender” and “delicate” don’t describe me, but I know one thing: they are far more preferable than causing pain, hurt, and sorrow. I agree, Lord!

Proverbs 15:4
“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.”

Key word 1: “Soothing.” Hebrew: Marpay. Meaning: health, healing, cure.

Key word 2: “Perversion.” Hebrew: sehlef. Meaning: crookedness, crooking dealings, distorted.

Rewording the Verse: “A tongue seeking to bring health and healing is a tree of life, but one that is crooked in its dealings and distorts truth crushes the spirit.”

Reaction: I’m not really out to crush people spiritually or emotionally, but I suppose when seeking to gain the upper hand in an argument perhaps I do skew truth … somewhat. Well, somewhat or much, it is wrong. God has spoken: “I want you uplifting people’s spirits – not crushing them!” Duly noted, Lord. I will endeavor to achieve the former and renounce the latter.

Proverbs 15:18: “A hot-tempered person stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.”

Key word 1: “Strife.” Hebrew: Madon. Meaning: Contention, discord, brawling.

Key word 2: “Calms.” Hebrew: Shawkat. Meaning: Quiets, stills, appeases, settles.

Rewording the Verse: “A hot-tempered person causes contention, discord, and brawling, but the slow to anger quiets, stills, appeases, and settles disputes.”

Reaction: I’ve too often stoked the flames of hostilities with hot-tempered words, when I should have been a blessed peacekeeper seeking to quiet and still fragile situations.

I’m 65 years old and have always been a fireplug; it’s my nature. Arguments come easy, wrong words more frequently win out over right ones. But no matter. God’s Word is Truth, always was, always will be. His rules for interactions with others are right, and need to be followed.

Of course I’ve known this since giving my life to Christ in 1986, but “sanctified reminders” are always necessary. Therefore, I’m thankful for my most recent excursion into Chapter 15 – with its 3 piercing proverbs and all!

How about you? Are there any particularly piercing verses which serve as “sanctified reminders” to you?