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In the mouth of a fool is a prideful rod,
but the lips of the wise will watch over them. Bible

“prideful rod.” The Hebrew text has the genitive phrase, “rod of pride,” which is a double entendre, because it can be a genitive of origin, a rod that comes from pride with which he strikes others, and it can be a genitive of relation, a rod that strikes him because of his pride. The point of the proverb is that unreasonable fools bring a rod to themselves, and to others, by their prideful talk.

“lips.” In this verse “lips” are personified, as if they take charge and protect the wise. The personification may have to do with the habit that godly people form through repeated practice. If a godly person repeatedly watches what he says, it can almost be as if his lips know what to say and what not to say.

The point of the stanza is that the wise person is watched over and protected when he is careful in what he says. The Bible has a huge amount of text about what is godly and proper to say, and the wise person heeds the Bible’s advice. Jesus said that on Judgment Day we will all give an account of what we have said (Matt. 12:36), and he was not just making idle threats—he was trying to get us to be serious about what we say (or email, or text) so we would be blessed and rewarded on that Day. When we do speak ungodly things, we should repent and confess our sin, and our sin will be forgiven (1 John 1:9).


Commentary for: Proverbs 14:3