“She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
We have all conversed with different types of people who exhibit various styles of communication. Some we enjoy listening and talking with and others we cannot wait to end. There are many reasons we enjoy sharing and talking with some people and not with others. Some people only talk about themselves or their children and their accomplishments. They like to show off their status or maybe they frequently drop names of people they have been with to help boost their self-image. At the other end of the spectrum are those people who are good listeners. They ask questions about how we are doing and what is going on in our lives. We can tell they are truly listening because they ask appropriate questions based on what we are telling them. We could identify people that fit into both of these categories.
Our virtuous woman is a good listener and when she speaks, it is a “word fitly spoken like apples of gold in a setting of silver. “ (Proverbs. 25:1). “She opens” in Hebrew has a fascinating meaning. It means to plough or engrave. A farmer ploughs his field preparing it for planting. The better the farmer does at ploughing and preparing the better his production of crops. A woman with her words can prepare the heart and soul of her listener with words of wisdom and kindness. Ploughing turns the soil over loosening and exposing different parts of it. When we as women interact with different people, the words we say can loosen hearts and minds and cause a sensitivity to God and His word that would not have happened if the words had been harsh, quarrelsome, or fretful. A woman with her words may not always say things that are positive, but she knows how to be constructive and speak a word at the appropriate moment that will sit well with the listener.
The other meaning of the word open is to engrave. Engraving is a permanent etching into something that is extremely difficult to remove. Our words are engraved on the hearts and minds of those who listen. We can all remember one word or phrase that someone has said to us that was hurtful and unkind. It resonated through our soul and came back to our minds over and over causing repeat pain. Before we speak, we must carefully consider our words.
If we choose to speak a word of criticism we must have carefully cultivated the field by investing into the relationship with our time, prayers, and frequent kind and encouraging words. When this is done the field will be ready for the word of criticism, but it will be a “word fitly spoken.” (Proverbs 25:1). We must also be careful not to speak kind words that are not true or disingenuous. We can see through these words and they can also cause pain.
We must carefully consider our words, not only what is said, but also when it is said and the tone of voice it is said with. What we say is engraved on the heart of our listeners and no matter how many kind words are said they may never erase the unkind or hurtful words. As a listener we need to be wise and discerning in what we hear and not disregard every word that is spoken to us. Was the word, though seeming unkind, said in a humble and loving way? “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) or “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)
Below is a comparison between words the virtuous woman says and those that the foolish woman says. Carefully consider your words as you read this comparison.
|Virtuous woman’s speech||Foolish woman’s speech|
|Builds her house (Prov. 14:1)||Tears her house down (Prov. 14:1)|
|Wise words wins favor (Ecc. 10:12-14)||Foolish words consume, are evil madness, and are many (Ecc. 10:12-14)|
|Considers and holds back words (Prov. 29:11)||Foolish give full vent (Prov. 29:11)|
|Wise words bring healing (Prov. 12:18)||Rash words are like sword thrusts
|Know what is acceptable (Prov. 10:32)||Perverse (Prov. 10:32)|
|Spread knowledge (Prov. 15:7)||Loud, seductive, & knows nothing
|Precious jewel (Prov. 20:15)||Quarrelsome and fretful (Prov. 19:13; 21:9, 19; 25:24; 27:15,16)|
|Gracious, seasoned with salt (Col 4:6)||Idlers, busybodies, gossips (II Tim. 5:13)|
|Quick to listen & slow to speak (James 1:19)||Evil (Prov. 15:28)|
|Restrains words (Prov. 17:27)|
|Ponders answer (Prov. 15:28)|
|Appropriate words at appropriate times
Consider one last verse.
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul, and health to the body.”
- Are you working harder at preparing the soil or planting the seed with your words and actions?
- “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply” (Unknown). How does this quote resonate with you?
- How does Proverbs 15:1 fit with our discussion in this lesson?