Themes in Proverbs: Excellent Speech

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

The words we speak are important. God has given words as a means to know about Him. Our words let others know about us. Proverbs tells us that our tongue can be both a source of encouragement or a source of discomfort. Strangely, both of these extremes originate in the same place – within us.

The word used in this verse for “soothing” could also mean “healing.” Words are powerful. It is hard not to think of my children when I think of the words I use. When a child is sad or upset, a gentle word goes a long way. You can see them wipe away their tears with a gentle word. Children are also affected negatively by the words they hear. Perversion, or crookedness, means alteration of something from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended.

What will our words be? Is it possible to address others with the same kindness and love that we address our little ones? Just as important – can we stay away from speech that is crooked and perverted in God’s eyes?