Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 12:18
“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18
Have you ever heard someone speak words that caused the recipient to feel terrible or embarrassed? Sometimes it is hard to determine why they hurt so much. These words can be as sharp swords, cutting and wounding, dividing and killing. They have been known to cause incredible hurt and damage to whom they are spoken to as well as those who are intimately close to them.
So, what kind of words are alluded to? Well first, they can be angry words like sharp rebukes. Phrases like, “That was really stupid of you to do” or “how could you be such an idiot” or “how could I have thought you could do this right”. These are insulting to the person and does nothing to help any situation. Then there are backbiters and gossipers. These say similar things about the person, but to others with the one they are directed at are present or not. Then there are those who present testimonies that are false and perjurious. This causes others to assume guilt where no guilt exists. This can have a serious and negative effect on them. There are other examples, but the idea is that anything that produces a negative impact on someone, whether anyone else knows or not can cause harm. David wrote of this in the psalms during his issues with King Saul. “My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows And their tongue a sharp sword.” Psalm 57:4.
I understand what this is like because I experienced these things throughout my childhood, both at home and in school. My parents were extremely harsh in their dealings with us. And at school, I found myself the brunt of everyone’s jokes. However, my dad gave his life to Christ several years after I left to join the Air Force and when I visited after this event, he was a much different man. He was much more loving and kind to everyone which ultimately made a difference in my mother as well. But needless to say, I understand some of the damage that can occur because of the above.
However, the last part of this verse points out how we are to speak to others: using wisdom. “But the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18b. The idea presented here is the sharp and insulting words spoken to others is not wise, but in the language used by Solomon throughout Proverbs, it is foolish. Wisdom is found in love, and in this verse’s context, loving people through kind and uplifting words. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18.
And finally, wisdom also calls for us to think of things that are positive and good. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8. By focusing on the positive and shunning the negative, by thinking of things that are good and Godly, we will be more inclined to treat people as we should, not with words that hurt like a sword in the flesh, but by encouragement and love that brings healing to whatever hurts they are enduring. We must be wise in how we treat people, showing how much we care and love them, thus bringing healing rather than pain. So much good will our results in the lives of those we treat as such.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.