Life, Death, and Deep Waters

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Words can be powerful. They can encourage, scar, empower, and even confuse a person. They are more than the letters and sounds used to express them.

Words embody meaning, but not just in themselves. The meaning of words depends on how the words are spoken—their context, the tone of voice, and even who spoke them.

Some people love to talk, and may be careless with their words. Others use words sparingly, but might have a lot to say. What a person says and how they say things reveals a lot about who they are.

Scripture

A loner is out to get what he wants for himself. He opposes all sound reasoning. A fool does not find joy in understanding but only in expressing his own opinion. When wickedness comes, contempt also comes, and insult comes along with disgrace. The words of a person’s mouth are like deep waters. The fountain of wisdom is an overflowing stream. [vss 1-4]

It is not good to be partial toward a wicked person, thereby depriving an innocent person of justice. By talking, a fool gets into an argument, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin. His lips are a trap to his soul. The words of a gossip are swallowed greedily, and they go down into a person’s innermost being. [vss 5-8]

Before destruction a person’s heart is arrogant, but humility comes before honor. Whoever gives an answer before he listens is stupid and shameful. [vss 12-13]

The first to state his case seems right [until] his neighbor comes to cross-examine him. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words. [vss 17, 21]

(‭Proverbs‬ ‭18‬:‭1-8, 12-13, 17, 21‬ GW) [Context– Proverbs 18]

Key phrase— The words of a person’s mouth are like deep waters.

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Digging Deeper...

What are the harsh, stronger things spoken of in these verses?

In what ways do you see persons and their words described?

How are wisdom and humility beneficial in respect to words, attitudes, and timing?

What do you think it means about a person's words being like "deep waters"?

Reflection...

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about words, wisdom, and foolishness. Often times foolishness is known for carelessness in speech and attitude. Wisdom, on the other hand, is noted for being the opposite.

Gossip is destructive in many ways. It affects the person on the wrong end of it, and the person who takes it to heart. It's also destructive for the person who starts and passes on the gossip. This is where the "deep waters" of a person's words can take on different meanings.

For a person with ulterior or malicious motives, their words can be a trap for those who believe them. This is why we need to be careful of what (and who) we listen to, and being too quick to believe or act upon what we hear.

Wisdom may be an overflowing stream, but not because of the volume of words it speaks. It's good to be careful with the words we speak and listen to, especially when we react to them. If we're not careful, we may have to eat some bitter words and humble pie.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions

Are there times when you feel you've spoken out of turn or spoken too much?

Why do you think gossip is so destructive? Why is it so easy to listen to it?

Do you tend to react too quickly, or do you carefully weigh what people say before responding?

What exhortations or encouragements in these verses do you see as most helpful?