Ponder How to Answer
28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. (Prov. 15:28 ESV)
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer
The righteous consider how to answer. The righteous give thought to the right words to use. The one who is righteous takes into account the context of the conversation, the context of the question being asked or the situation that requires a response. The heart, the inner man of the righteous, contemplates what is wise to say. The righteous ponder what will be helpful and edifying in the given situation. The righteous consider how to be clear in their response. They give consideration to what is motivating them to say what they say. The righteous attempt to speak in a concise and truthful manner. The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer.
But – when you see this word it signals a contrast is coming
The righteous ponder how to answer but…
the mouth of the of wicked pours out evil things
In contrast to the righteous, the mouth of the wicked pours out words. In fact, the text states that the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. The NIV states the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. What a contrast! One gives thought to how to respond appropriately while the other pours out evil things. The wicked cannot be bothered with taking the time to consider what should be said. The wicked cannot be concerned with pondering their words before they speak them. The wicked have no concern for measuring their words carefully. They simply gush out evil things. They speak without thinking. They open their mouths and let fly whatever comes to mind. They do not consider what will be helpful or edifying. The mouth of the wicked pours (gushes) out evil things.
The righteous understand the teaching of Proverbs 10:19 while the wicked ignore it.
19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Prov. 10:19 ESV)
The righteous understand that with many words comes transgression. They understand that restraining one’s lips is wise. One translation states that when words are many transgression is unavoidable. The righteous are presumably seeking to be wise and therefore limit their words. They only say what is good and necessary. On the other hand, the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things or gushes evil. In speaking many words, the wicked inevitably sin. The sheer number of words spoken makes transgression all the more likely.
The righteous heed the counsel of Proverbs 21:23.
23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Prov. 21:23 ESV)
The righteous seek to guard their mouths and their tongues. They understand that in guarding what they say they guard themselves from trouble. The wicked have no such understanding. Their mouths pour out evil things and in so doing bring trouble to themselves.
Counselors and counselees, we must all ask ourselves several questions.
1) Do I ponder how to answer?
2) Does may mouth pour out evil things?
3) Do I restrain my lips?
4) Do I speak many words?
5) Do I guard my mouth?
May we all seek to speak only that which is good, right, and edifying.
By His Grace Alone,