How To Use Our Words... According to Proverbs

Our words are powerful. They are  influenced by our circumstances, our emotions, our cultures, our friends, and even our family histories. But how about the Bible? How often do we allow our words, especially in the middle of an argument, to be shaped by God?

The Bible actually has a lot to say about how we use our words. And no book says more about the topic than Proverbs. Below are over 100 verses (and partial verses) on the wrong and right ways to use our words.

 
 

WRONG WAYS TO USE WORDS

Lying

  • “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him…a lying tongue…” (6:16–17a)
  • “Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.” (10:18a)
  • “A lying tongue lasts only a moment…” (12:19b)
  • “The Lord detests lying lips…” (12:22a)
  • “A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.” (17:4)
  • “Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—how much worse lying lips to a ruler!” (17:7)
  • “Whoever pours out lies will not go free.” (19:5)
  • “Better to be poor than a liar.” (19:22b)
  • “A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.” (21:6)
  • “A lying tongue hates those it hurts.” (26:28a)

Slandering

  • “Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.” (10:18)

  • “Do not slander a servant to their master, or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.” (30:10)

Gossiping

  • “A gossip betrays a confidence.” (11:13)
  • “A gossip separates close friends.” (16:28b)
  • “Whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” (17:9b)
  • “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” (18:8)
  • “A gossip betrays a confidence.” (20:19)
  • “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” (26:20)

Constant Talking

  • “A chattering fool comes to ruin.” (10:8)

  • “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (10:19)

  • “Those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” (13:3)
  • “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (17:28)
  • “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” (18:2)
  • “Avoid anyone who talks too much.” (20:19b)

False Witnessing

  • “An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies.” (12:17b)
  • “A false witness pours out lies.” (14:5b)
  • “A false witness will not go unpunished.” (19:5)
  • “A corrupt witness mocks at justice.” (19:28a)
  • “A false witness will perish.” (21:28a)
  • “Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.” (25:18)

Mocking

  • “A mocker does not respond to rebukes.” (13:1b)
  • “The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none.” (14:6a)
  • “Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise.” (15:12)
  • “Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker.” (17:5a)
  • “Penalties are prepared for mockers.” (19:29a)
  • “When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom.” (21:11a)
  • “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.” (22:10)
  • “People detest a mocker.” (24:9b)
  • “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.” (30:17)

Harsh Talking

  • “The mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” (10:11b)
  • “A perverse tongue will be silenced.” (10:31b)
  • “The mouth of the wicked [knows] only what is perverse.” (10:32b)
  • “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense.” (11:12a)
  • “The words of the reckless pierce like swords.” (12:18a)
  • “Those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” (13:3b)
  • “A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride.” (14:3a)
  • “A harsh word stirs up anger.” (15:1b)
  • “A perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (15:4b)
  • “The mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” (15:28b)
  • “Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.” (19:1)
  • “The mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.” (19:28b)
  • Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.” (25:23)

Boasting

  • “’It’s no good, it’s no good!’ says the buyer—then goes off and boasts about the purchase.” (20:14)
  • “Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given.” (25:14)
  • “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” (27:1)
  • “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” (27:2)

Quarreling

  • “Where there is strife, there is pride.” (13:10a)
  • “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict.” (15:18)
  • “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” (17:14)
  • “Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.” (17:19)
  • “A quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof.” (19:13)
  • “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” (20:3)
  • “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” (21:9)
  • “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” (21:19)

Flattering

  • “A flattering mouth works ruin.” (26:28b)
  •  “Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.” (29:5)

Foolish Words

  • “Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.” (14:7)
  • “The mouth of the fool gushes folly.” (15:2b)
  • “The mouth of a fool feeds on folly.” (15:14)
  • “The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.” (18:6)
  • “The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.” (18:7)

 

RIGHT WAYS TO USE WORDS

Helpful & Encouraging

  • “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” (10:11a)
  • “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver.” (10:20a)
  • “The lips of the righteous nourish many.” (10:21a)
  • “From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things.” (12:14a)
  • “The tongue of the wise brings healing.” (12:18b)
  • “The soothing tongue is a tree of life.” (15:4a)
  • “The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.” (18:4)
  • “From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.” (18:20)
  • “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (18:21)

Wise

  • “Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning.” (10:13a)

  • “From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom.” (10:31a)
  • “The lips of the wise protect [others].” (14:3b)
  • “The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge.” (15:2a)
  • “The lips of the wise spread knowledge.” (15:7a)
  • “The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.” (16:21b)
  • “The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.” (16: 23b)
  • “Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.” (20:15)

Pleasant

  • “The lips of the righteous know what finds favor.” (10:32a)
  • “A kind word cheers [a heart] up.” (12:25a)
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” (15:1a)
  • “The soothing tongue is a tree of life.” (15:4a)
  • “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (15:23)
  • “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (16:24)
  • “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word rightly given.” (25:11)

True

  • “An honest witness tells the truth.” (12:17a)
  • “Truthful lips endure forever.” (12:19a)
  • “[The Lord] delights in people who are trustworthy.” (12:22b)
  • “An honest witness does not deceive.” (14:5a)
  • “A truthful witness saves lives.” (14:25a)

Carefully Chosen

  • “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (10:19)
  • “The one who has understanding holds their tongue.” (11:12b)
  •  “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives.” (13:3a)
  • “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers.” (15:28)
  • “The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent.” (16:23a)
  • “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint.” (17:27a)
  • "Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” (21:23)

Credit for the list goes to Sid S. Buzzell's chapter on "Proverbs" in The Bible Knowledge Commentary.