Proverbs 15

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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!

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Read Proverbs 15

15 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
    but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
    keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
    but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
A fool spurns a parent’s discipline,
    but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
The house of the righteous contains great treasure,
    but the income of the wicked brings ruin.
The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
    but the hearts of fools are not upright.
The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
The Lord detests the way of the wicked,
    but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;
    the one who hates correction will die.
11 Death and Destruction lie open before the Lord
    how much more do human hearts!
12 Mockers resent correction,
    so they avoid the wise.
13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
    but heartache crushes the spirit.
14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,
    but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched,
    but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord
    than great wealth with turmoil.
17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love
    than a fattened calf with hatred.
18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
    but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns,
    but the path of the upright is a highway.
20 A wise son brings joy to his father,
    but a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly brings joy to one who has no sense,
    but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.
22 Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed.
23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
    and how good is a timely word!
24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent
    to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.
25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud,
    but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place.
26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked,
    but gracious words are pure in his sight.
27 The greedy bring ruin to their households,
    but the one who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
    but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
    but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
    and good news gives health to the bones.
31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction
    will be at home among the wise.
32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
    but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord,
    and humility comes before honor.

Go Deeper

We live in a sound-bite world. We admire and desire to be like the wise sage who, with a few words, can enrage or encourage. The one with the sharpest, smartest, repeatable, and re-postable words wins. So we think. We understand the power of words. 

The writer of Proverbs 15 understood the power of words, too. Look at the ideas, counsel, and caution we’re presented in this passage:

A soft answer turns away wrath
A harsh word stirs up anger
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive
The mouth of fools pour out folly
A tongue that heals is a tree of life
A devious tongue breaks the spirit
Lips of the wise spread knowledge
Mouth of the wicked pours out evil things
The prayer of the upright is a delight to God
A word in season is good
Gracious words are pure and pleasant
A righteous person thinks before answering

We all want to be wise. We like to think we are wise (and with the help of the Spirit, we are at times). None of us like to consider ourselves foolish or evil; yet, when we think of pain we’ve caused others, problems we’ve created, or predicaments we’ve manipulated, almost always the power of our words plays a big part. 

We need wisdom not only in what we say (the words we use), but how we say them and when we say them. We can learn from verse one an important distinction when using our words. The verse reads, “A gentle answer…”. In order for there to be an answer, it requires a question. Often we give our words without anyone asking for them. When someone comes to us with questions, our response matters. Our words have the power of life and death. 

We also need wisdom in what words we receive (the words said to us). We’d be wise to heed verse 32: “Whoever listens to correction acquires good sense.” To be wise, to hear counsel, to listen to correction requires humility and honesty. It is for our good and for our growth that God uses wise people in our lives to correct and encourage us. Let’s be people who use words wisely…both the words we speak and the words we receive. 


  1. What’s your one takeaway from this chapter?
  2. Throughout the proverb, there’s a thread woven between words and one’s heart. Read Luke 6:45. What’s the connection? 
  3. What confession or change will you make in using your words?

A Quote

Charles Bridges, a nineteenth century British pastor and theologian, said this about Proverbs 15:

“Pride and passion on both sides strike together like two flints. We indulge in sarcasm as if we would rather lose a friend than miss scoring a point in the argument. All this the world excuses. But the Gospel sets before us our Savior’s example and imbues us with his spirit; so we should be careful not to provoke a chafed or wounded spirit.”

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6 thoughts on “Proverbs 15”

  1. My greatest takeaway from this chapter, and many others in Proverbs, is how often Solomon writes about our words. The tongue can turn away wrath, spread knowledge, be a tree of life, and calm a quarrel, or it can stir up anger and conflict, gush folly & evil, and crush the spirit. I’m reminded that behind every word I speak, God sees the motive and intentions of my heart. I’m learning to choose words carefully and at times let my words be few, especially if my heart is bitter or angry. At any moment, I can choose silence and buy time to pray & process instead of joining in a fray where I might say words I’ll later regret. Even when I need to speak up, I’m practicing the art of gentle, discerning words that speak life.

  2. Like a bullet that cannot be retrieved or stopped once the trigger is pulled, so it is with our words. Once fired, they each travel and hit something intended or unintended and have the immense capability of catastrophic damage.

  3. Jesus was a master with His words!!!! All
    We’re full of wisdom. He also knew when not to speak – (even though we all know if he would’ve – he would have said the right words!) ….may the Holy Spirit cover us in self control when we are in conversation…..and overwhelm us with wanting to be the good listener – instead of the urge to always want to speak into things.

  4. I think my greatest takeaway from this chapter is to think about what I say. I tend to end up saying things I wished I hadn’t.
    Proverbs has been such a good book to read, it really has been helping me with how to control myself.

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