Put Your Hand on Your Mouth

Reading the Word

Proverbs 30:32–33 (ESV)
32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.
33 For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We need to be wise in our actions and consider their consequences. It is foolish to exalt ourselves rather than act in humility towards others. It is also wrong for us to “devise evil” or scheme evil plans in our actions. We often do these without even thinking about them as we say and do things that we know will hurt others or get back at them for hurting us. We often justify our actions by assuring ourselves that we know better than others and that the outcome we are seeking is the correct one. Therefore, any means to obtain it is good.

The second line warns us that actions have consequences. We are given three examples of this truth each using the word “pressing.” The first speaks of pressing milk, which is a picture of churning. The second speaks of pressing the nose,which produces blood. This pictures a fight in which someone strikes another person on the nose and gives them a bloody nose. And the last speaks of pressing anger and producing strife. This last picture is of one who stirs up the anger of another until there is a response of conflict.

Learning to walk wisely involves learning to “put your hand on your mouth.” We need to learn when to keep quiet. To scheme evil through our words and actions, or use them to stir up conflict, is the way of the fool. Of course, the fool does not mind the conflict and may even enjoy it, but the wise understands that such is not to be desired. Even the New Testament warns the church against those who like to stir up division, calling such people “warped and sinful” (cf. Titus 3:10). Let’s learn to walk in wisdom and humility, not looking for conflict and strife.

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