Words carry power, to heal or to hurt.
One of the most powerful images of human wisdom is that of the sage who speaks little but whose words are well chosen and apt, going to the heart of a question without unnecessary noise.
It’s an image that I find compelling; one thing which has always made me cautious about social media is that I generally prefer not to say something until I’m sure that it’s worth saying. That’s one reason that I started this daily blog, as a discipline to make me write something each day, even if it’s not always a profound word of wisdom and insight for which I hope to be remembered…
The opening of this chapter is concerned with our words. First there is the contrast of healing and hurting words – each easy to say, but impossible to unsay once spoken.
Second there is the verbal contrast of ‘dispenses’ (wise words and knowledge) and ‘pours out’ (folly). Wise words tend not to come out in a torrent, but are carefully measured and distributed. We could all probably benefit from thinking more and speaking a bit less, especially in a world overwhelmed with media, words, images and adverts.
The chapter goes on to write of material contentment – verses 16-17 spell out the truth that it is better to have little and to be right with God and with friends than to have much and to be cut off from God and others. Simplicity is something which we don’t celebrate as we should – whether it’s in words or at the table.