Day 25 A Proverbs Sampler ... Words about Words

Who is the wisest person you know? Probably you'll come up with an elderly person, full of life experience, with a wry twist of humor and a colorful way of putting things. Solomon must have been like that, and he passed down his observations about life in elegant, witty nuggets of insight.

Yet for all its wisdom, Proverbs may well be the most abused book in the Bible. People often quote the proverbs as if they were absolute promises from God or rigid rules for living, when in fact few of them should be read that way. It's best to study the whole book to get its overall point of view on a subject.

Solomon did not sit around all day spouting proverbs in topical sequence. Most likely, those that survive in this book were assembled late in his life, in no strict order. Thus reading Proverbs may at first remind you of reading the dictionary: You'll encounter short, self-contained items in a long list with little or no connection between them.

Even though the one-liners in Proverbs move quickly (and apparently randomly) from one subject to another, there is an overall objective behind the disorder. If you spend enough time in Proverbs, you will gain a subtle and practical understanding of life. Familiar themes keep showing up: the use and abuse of the tongue, wealth and poverty, keeping and losing one's temper, laziness and hard work.

In a "birds-eye view" survey of the Bible, there is no time for such topical in-depth study. However, the following sampler of proverbs, all dealing with the power of words, shows how such a study might work. Taken together, these proverbs present a wise, balanced view of conversation. They reveal the explosive power - for good or for evil - of ordinary words.

Proverbs on the importance of words: 10:11, 20; 12:14; 15:4; 17:10; 18:21; 25:11

Proverbs on the wrong way to speak: 6:16-19; 11:9, 12, 13; 12:18;13:3; 16:27, 28; 18:8, 13; 26:23-28; 29:5

Proverbs on the dangers of words: 10:19; 14:23

Point to Ponder: : Have you said anything recently that you wish you could unsay?