“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19)
Wise words are valuable. “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver … The lips of the righteous feed many” (Proverbs 10:20-21). But not all words are helpful. Some people just keep talking without end, without having much to say. Phrased more poetically: “the mouths of fools pour out folly” (Proverbs 15:2). That’s not a wise thing to do. If we don’t have anything important or useful to say, we’d better ‘restrain our lips’ (Proverbs 17:27).
Speaking wisely is both about what we say, and when we say it. Even great truths are not appropriate for every situation. If somebody is deeply troubled or sorrowful, like Job was for example, we should be especially careful not to throw ‘cheap truths’ in his face.
That’s what Job’s friends did: “Behold, this we have searched out; it is true. Hear, and know it for your good” (Job 5:27). But their ‘wisdom’ didn’t help Job at all. “Miserable comforters are you all”, he cries out, “Shall windy words have an end? Or what provokes you that you answer?” (Job 16:2-3).
Be careful what you say. Choose your words wisely, and know when to keep quiet. For “how forceful are upright words!” (Job 6:25) and “a word in season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23).
Do you restrain your lips? And do you also speak when needed?