Hasty with Words

Reading the Word

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.(Proverbs 29:20, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

This verse describes the one who is “hasty in his words.” This is a person who gives no thought about the good or evil done through what he says. He only is concerned with accomplishing a certain goal. It may be to win an argument or prove a point or put someone in their place. The hasty words may accomplish those goals, but it may also do far more damage than that. Hasty words destroy relationships, close ears to the message of the gospel, and drive people away from churches. The offender often hides behind the phrase “but what I said was the truth”, but such a mindset fails to understand that it is not just what is said, but how and when something is said.

The one who is hasty in speaking is worse than a fool. A fool is one who is mistaken about what he thinks he knows, but there is hope for him if he learns the truth. The hasty person, however, knows the truth. They use the truth to get what they want without regard for what is best for others. It is difficult to change the person who is quick to speak and slow to hear. It is no wonder that the Book of James warns us about the power of the tongue (James 3:6-9).


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The Need for God’s Word

Reading the Word

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.(Proverbs 29:18, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

We need our Bibles and we need preachers and teachers of God’s word to help us understand them. The first line of this proverb tells us why. Where there is no prophetic vision, or revelation from God, the people cast off restraint. Another way this last phrase could be translated is “the people run wild” or “the people go out of control.” The contrast to this are those who obey God’s law, which is his revealed word. They are blessed.

Our Bibles are God’s word to us. The prophetic vision that this proverb speaks of is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Our Bibles tell us about who God is, what he has done, what he plans to do in the future, and what he wants from us. We need God’s word so we can rightly order our lives and please him. It is easy to see the consequences of how people live when they do not have access to Scripture or when they reject it. They quickly fall into great sin and moral confusion. However, for those who make it their goal to understand the Bible and live by its teachings, there is great blessing. The word of God gives life to all who live by it.


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Equality

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

The poor man and the oppressor meet together; the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.(Proverbs 29:13, ESV)

Self-Control

Reading the Word

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.(Proverbs 29:11, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

We have seen several verses in the Book of Proverbs that contrast the fool and the wise when it comes to times of conflict or disagreement. We read just yesterday how a fool cannot be reasoned with. Today, we read that a foolish person is one who “gives full vent” to his spirit. Again, the context is about conflict or times of disagreement. The fool shows no restraint, but speaks his mind, whatever the consequences. The wise person, on the other hand, holds back. He is able to harness his thoughts and words and keep them to himself to avoid making a situation worse.

We live in a time and culture in the U.S. where we are encouraged to say and do whatever we want. We are also told that we should never hold our feelings in, but let them out. We have to be careful. On the one hand, we should never let another rule over us to shut us up. However, that does not mean we should not rule over our own tongues. We must be able to speak when necessary, but we must also be able to keep quiet when necessary. The wise knows there are times for each approach and seeks to discern between the two. Ask yourself, what are the likely benefits and/or consequences of the words you are about to say?


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Is the Argument Worth It?

Reading the Word

If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.(Proverbs 29:9, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

The imagery of this proverb is the courtroom. The Hebrew word translated “argument” is one that speaks of a legal argument that is laid out with logic and reason before others. Even with all of the evidence and reasoning, the fool only rages and laughs. There is no quiet because the fool is not interested in reasoning, only foolishness.

There are better things to do than argue with others who are already convinced and are not willing to reconsider. Some people are not interested in reason or understanding. They have their mind made up no matter what anyone else may say. The fool only desires to speak, not listen, so he rages on. The next time you are tempted to argue over a topic, ask yourself if there is any chance of it changing the other person’s mind. If not, it may be better to walk away.


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Fanning the Flames

Reading the Word

Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.(Proverbs 29:8, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

The first line of this proverb speaks of one who “blows” on a city. It is the picture of one blowing on the embers of a fire to get it burning. We might translate the line “Scoffers fan the flames of a city.” The second line gives us the contrast of what the wise person does. Instead of increasing the flames, the wise person turns away wrath. He puts out the fire.

We certainly live in a polarized and volatile moment in our nation’s history. It seems like the media and our political leaders go out of their way to “fan the flames” on just about every topic. We need wise leaders who seek to extinguish the flames rather than build them up. And we need to do better ourselves in not adding fuel to the fires that threaten to destroy our personal relationships with family and friends and also threaten to tear our society apart.


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Smooth Talkers

Reading the Word

A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.(Proverbs 29:5, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

This proverb speaks of one who flatters his neighbor. The word translated “flatters” is a word that means “smooth talks” or “slippery”. The idea is one who uses words to deceive or manipulate in order to get a desired result. This is not a good neighbor. The second half of the verse is less clear. It tells us that the smooth talker spreads a net for “his feet”, but whose feet are we talking about? Is it the feet of the smooth talker or of the neighbor?

If the verse is speaking of the feet of the neighbor, we see how the smooth talker uses his words to set a trap. This certainly makes sense. However, if we read the next verse in Proverbs 29:6, it speaks of an evil man who is ensnared in his transgression. This sounds exactly like what is happening in today’s passage. The smooth talker will be ensnared in his transgression. Eventually, evil catches up to everyone, even those who seem to get away with it. In the end, all people will stand before the all-knowing God and answer for every thought, word, and deed. There is no evil that goes unseen. The wise live their lives understanding this.


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Concealing Our Sin

Reading the Word

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.(Proverbs 28:13, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

What is the usual response to doing something wrong? We try to hide it. We believe by doing so we can deal with our sin and it will go away. This is not the case. While our first reaction is to hide our sin, doing so is the worst thing for us. The result of trying to hide it is reflected in the words of Psalm 32:1-4:

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

Rather than run from our sin or try to hide it, we need to own up to it and confess it. When we do so, we are told that we find mercy. God is a gracious God who forgives sinners. That is why he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Jesus took the punishment that we as sinners deserve. When we confess our sins and trust in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, we are forgiven. Do not run from your sin. It will only harm you to do so. Instead, go to God, confess, and trust in Jesus Christ.


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Closing Your Ears to God

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.(Proverbs 28:9, ESV)

Character Is Important

Reading the Word

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.(Proverbs 28:6, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

We live in a results-oriented society. We want specific outcomes. How we get those results is secondary. Or, more specifically, we want people in place who get results and we do not care what kind of people they are. Today’s proverb corrects this way of thinking. End results are not the most important thing. Character is more important. A poor man with integrity is better than a rich person whose ways are crooked. The rich man got the results (wealth), but the poor man had integrity (character).

When the people of Israel requested that Saul be their king, God told Samuel to do what the people requested, but not to be impressed with Saul as the people were “because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God is concerned more with the character of a person than their outward appearance, including the external results they might produce. We should seek to be people of integrity and to value the same in others.


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