Day 25: Wise words that are gracious (10:12)
“The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself” (10:12).
We will first look at some profound yet, when we think about it, sensible advice: “Caution: The trap you set might catch you. Warning: Your accomplice in crime might double-cross you. Safety first: Quarrying stones is dangerous. Be alert: Felling trees is hazardous. Remember: The duller the ax the harder the work; Use your head: The more brains, the less muscle. If the snake bites before it’s been charmed, What’s the point in then sending for the charmer?” (10:8-11 MSG.) When we think of traps that backfire – the Bible is full of examples, and there are none no more graphic than when wicked Haman built gallows to hang righteous Mordecai and ended up being hung on them himself. History is full of examples of criminals being double crossed by their accomplices; we know full well that occupations like quarrying stones and felling trees can be dangerous and therefore those thus engaged need to take precautions; working with a blunt ax is a good example of having to spend needless effort that could have been avoided if the ax was sharp and as for snakes – the point about them biting even if it has been charmed is noted. The moral behind these unusual examples is “be wise!”
We return to wisdom and why it is superior to folly. “The words of a wise person are gracious. The talk of a fool self-destructs – He starts out talking nonsense and ends up spouting insanity and evil. Fools talk way too much, chattering stuff they know nothing about. A decent day’s work so fatigues fools that they can’t find their way back to town.” (10:12-15 MSG.) It is a beautiful thought that is sometimes missed that, when a wise person speaks, these are gracious words and how much these are welcomed and needed. It reminds us of when Jesus spoke at the synagogue in Nazareth: “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” Luke 4:22. The wisest person to have lived was ever gracious: “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench” Isaiah 42:3 and “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary” Isaiah 50:4. How much the example of the wise contrasts with the empty words of the fool and not just words but their destructive whole way of life. The world is crying out for wise people and their gracious words, just as much as it cries out against foolish people and their “mischievous madness”. May we be found among the gracious wise.
Prayer: Dear Lord we thank you for our Lord Jesus Christ who was all wise and ever gracious. We thank you for the timely reminder of the pitfalls of life and the need to take wise precautions. Help us to make our words be wise and gracious.