The Mouth
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles to the book of Proverbs. You know that we are studying the second portion of the book, which we have entitled The Personal Proverbs of Solomon . We have learned that those personal proverbs of Solomon begin with chapter 10 and conclude with chapter 22, verse 16. There are many Proverbs in that section of the book, and it would be impossible for us to look at every single one of them unless we wanted to stay on the book of Proverbs indefinitely. There is no continuity of thought in the book of Proverbs as far as everything dealing with a certain subject being in the first paragraph and then everything dealing with another subject being in the next paragraph. Rather, the proverbs are scattered throughout the entire area. The best way to deal with them is to deal with them on the basis of principle; that is, all of the proverbs that deal with certain principles we gather together and think about them.


The principle that we are going to think about in this lesson is a very ordinary thing—a very dirty thing sometimes, a very useful thing at other times. We are speaking of the mouth, and we are going to talk about what the wise man has to say about the mouth in this particular section.

What we are going to say regarding the mouth has to do with the mouth as an instrument of speaking. Keep in mind that the book of Proverbs is a practical book meant for use upon this earth. Even if you did not believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, if you follow the suggestions given here concerning the use of your mouth, you would be a very wise person. If that is true of the world, how much truer should it be of those who know the Lord?

I never read in the book of Proverbs what I read about the mouth without being reminded of James' observation about the mouth. Turn to the book of James. In this portion of the Word of God, James makes a statement that is unusual, but if you accept it at its face value, you have gone a long way toward learning what you need to learn. Notice James, chapter 3, verse 2:

James 3:

2 For in many things we offend all [that is, in many things we all offend]. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

Guard Your Tongue

I say to you that this observation of James reminds me of what we read in the book of Proverbs because James says that we are all liable to offend; but if we can watch our tongue, if we can watch our mouth, if we can control what we say, the control of the rest of the body will be a comparatively simple thing. Go back to the book of Proverbs, as we remind you that in chapter 21, verse 23, Solomon said practically the same thing, but he said it in his own way. Notice:

Proverbs 21:

23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

Whoso guards his mouth, whoso guards his tongue keeps his soul (his life) from trouble. If you want to save yourself a whole lot of trouble, then you guard your tongue. Guard your mouth. Learn how to use your mouth in the manner in which God intended for it to be used, and you will save yourself a tremendous amount of trouble.

We have discovered in our study of the book of Proverbs that the truth presented in the book is oftentimes presented by way of contrasts, and the contrast is usually built around two people. One of them is referred to as a wise man , and the other is referred to as a foolish person . We mentioned to you that the fool, described in the book of Proverbs, is the individual who has not taken God into consideration as far as his life is concerned and oftentimes is in open rebellion against God. The wise person is the individual who has learned that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and has received the Lord Jesus Christ as his own personal Savior.

Contrast Between Wise and Foolish Use of the Tongue

I want you to notice with me some general contrasts between the wise person and the foolish person in the use of his tongue. In Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 23, you will see how the wise ought to use his tongue and how the foolish ought not to use his tongue:

Proverbs 16:

23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

Are you listening? Do you see what this proverb is saying? The wise man teaches his lips what to say. The wise man maketh a contribution to his lips through learning. He doesn't speak from the lips out. He speaks from the heart out. He doesn't only speak from the heart out, because emotions are sometimes unreliable, but he has the learning to back up the emotions in his heart. Much better would it be if all of us would refuse to speak until we knew the area in which we were speaking, and much better would we all be if we refused to speak unless we could speak, meaning that we speak from the heart.

False promises are sad things indeed. Notice what is recorded, please, in Proverbs, chapter 18, verse 7:

Proverbs 18:

7 A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

Keep in mind that the fool is the individual who is in rebellion against God, and we read here that that fool will use his mouth for his own destruction. I ask this question to provoke your thinking. How many of you can think back, perhaps even as late as the last year, of how the unwise use of your mouth provided destruction for your life and how the unwise use of your lips provided a snare for your soul. You spoke before you should; your soul was ensnared; your fellowship was broken, and the Devil won a tremendous victory.

We have spoken to you of general contrasts. I would like for you to notice with me some specific contrasts which are presented in certain areas where the use of the tongue and the mouth and the lips are all used interchangeably.

Preparation to Speak

First, in the area of preparation,notice Proverbs, chapter 15, verse 14:

Proverbs 15:

14 The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.

Did you notice what you read there? If you have understanding, you are going to seek knowledge before you speak. If you don't, you are going to feed on foolishness, and the only thing you can deliver is what you are fed on. When you hear a person speak, you need to have the perception to know if he is speaking on the basis of authority, based upon knowledge, based upon proof or whether he is speaking because he has spent all of his time feeding on foolishness, feeding on emptiness, feeding on vanity.

Glance at verse 28:

Proverbs 15:

28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.

Where you read, “the mouth of the righteous studieth to answer,” it doesn't mean that you studied a book so that you would have an answer to give. It means that you think before you speak. If somebody asked you a question, you wouldn't just say, “Oh, I know all about that,” and rattle a lot of empty words that mean nothing. You would stop and think, and rather than speak foolishly, you would say, “I believe I would rather wait before I give you an answer on that.” Notice in verse 28 the contrast, “the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.”

Mark what I am saying to you: When you hear somebody who can glibly give you the solution for every problem that is around, you had better weigh very carefully the solution. It may be foolishness. When you have somebody who is always ready to express himself on anything without a studied answer, you need to be very careful for what he has to say may not be very practical.

Look at chapter 18, verse 4, as we just call to your attention these things, trusting the Word of God to speak to your own heart in a manner that will accomplish its purpose. Notice:

Proverbs 18:

4 The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

Here the Spirit of God is pleased to use an illustration to describe how a wise man is able to give a studied answer. I like The Paraphrased rendering of that because it says it in a way that I think is effective. It is rendered: “A wise man's word expresses deep streams of thought.” If you are a wise man and speaking as such, then your words are going to express deep streams of thought. There will be nothing taken off the surface of the water, so to speak.

Wisdom in the Use of Your Mouth

There is another area that we would call to your attention in the use of the mouth, and I refer to it as “wisdom in the use of your mouth.” One time I heard a man say, “You have a tongue, don't you? Why don't you use it?” You know, sometimes that is the worst thing you can do. You need to learn how to use your mouth. You need to have wisdom in the use of your mouth. You need to know when to speak, how to speak, and you need to use your mouth wisely. Look at Proverbs, chapter 15, verse 2:

Proverbs 15:

2 The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

Did you get it? If you are a wise man, you are going to use knowledge. You've got that, but you are going to use it right. Everybody who has knowledge doesn't use it in the right way. There is a time and a place to say anything and everything, and just because you say it doesn't mean that it is going to work. It has to be said in the right fashion, at the right time, but notice the contrast here. It is still the same with the emphasis upon the matter of pouring out. The foolish man pours out what he has to say, and it is literally that. It is gushing out like a gushing stream. The wise use of the mouth is going to be based upon knowledge, knowledge that is used at the right time.

Go back to Proverbs, chapter 10, and notice verse 32:

Proverbs 10:

32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.

This word frowardness is the same as perverseness , and it is a word that describes things that are in opposition to that which is right. Whether it is in a spiritual realm or a moral realm or a political realm or whatever, it is a word with a wide range of meaning.

You will notice what is said here: “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked—the foolish man—is going to speak things that are opposed to that which is right.” I like the emphasis that is placed on this portion of the Word here: “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable.”

I would like to remind you that the righteous have an advantage over the unrighteous in that if they take advantage of it, they have someone who is able to reveal to them truth, for the natural man cannot perceive the things of the Spirit of God. They are spiritually discerned, and only individuals who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God can expect to have knowledge that is right so they will know the acceptable thing to speak.

There is another area of thought regarding this general principle of the mouth in the book of Proverbs, and that is the good and evil that is accomplished by the use of the mouth. Sometimes what is accomplished is good; sometimes what is accomplished is evil. Being familiar with what the Word of God has to say regarding good and evil, perhaps you can give yourself a little self-examination and know whether or not you are using your mouth as wisely as you ought to use it.

Wise Men Add to the Store of Knowledge

Notice first what is brought to our attention in the area of knowledge. In chapter 10, verse 14, we read:

Proverbs 10:

14 Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

What does this mean? “The wise man lays up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.” Perhaps another translation would be clearer to you: “Wise men add to the store of knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish hastens ruin.”

Stop and think about that for a moment. When you open your mouth, do you add anything to the store of knowledge that is already upon the earth? Do you contribute anything? You are not wise if you don't. There is enough air pollution without your opening your mouth if you are not going to add anything to the store of knowledge that is on the earth.

The Just Delivers Through Prayer

God says that the man who opens his mouth foolishly hastens a ruin, and this could have its application in a wide, wide area. How much has been ruined because people have spoken unwisely? What about the area of propaganda? I use that word because it is a familiar word in the age in which we live and because there is no better instrument for the use of propaganda than the mouth. We are talking about the good and the evil that is accomplished in various areas. What about the good and the evil accomplished in the area of propaganda in the use of the mouth? Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 9, says:

Proverbs 11:

9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

That is a tremendous statement, whether you realize it or not. The hypocrite—that is, the liar, the man who is not speaking the truth—destroys his neighbor. If you want to destroy your neighbor, you don't have to take a knife and cut his throat. You just lie about him, and if you say it often enough and forcefully enough, somebody will believe you. When somebody believes it, they will pass it on to somebody else, and pretty soon the person who lied will have become an eyewitness to something that never happened. That is a good way to destroy your neighbor.

Notice the contrast in that passage of Scripture: “…through knowledge shall the just be delivered.” That is not as happy a translation as it might be, for it is not referring to the deliverance of the just. It is referring to what the just does with his mouth. What it actually could read is, “that through knowledge the just delivers.” That is why I am talking about this area of propaganda. There are a lot of lies going abroad in our world today, and there is only one thing that is going to combat the lies that are going about around us and that is truth, knowledge, and fact. The hypocrite destroys with his mouth, but the just delivers through truth.

I might say to you, whether it is on a personal level, a neighborhood level, or a national level, whenever you hear lies being told, you ought not to become a party to the lie by saying, “You know, I heard somebody say that. I don't believe it, but I did hear it.” Rather, when you hear what the hypocrite says regarding the destruction of his neighbor, you should immediately investigate and then with the knowledge you have on hand say, “That old hypocrite over there said so and so. I investigated. I have the facts. Here they are in black and white, and what he said is a lie.” You can turn that night of hypocrisy back upon the individual himself, and in the area of propaganda be useful for God and for mankind.

Using the Mouth to Benefit Mankind

That leads me to suggest that we now consider those proverbs that have to do with the use of the mouth regarding the welfare of mankind. How may the mouth be used for the benefit of mankind? We are speaking very generally. Notice, please, chapter 12, verse 6:

Proverbs 12:

6 The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.

This is not as happy a translation as it might be because it does not convey the full sense of the verse. What the verse is conveying is, “The words of the wicked slay men.” Yes, you can slay with your tongue. You don't need a gun full of bullets, but you will notice, “The mouth of the upright delivers the individuals who are attacked by the wicked men.”

Are you spending your time and the use of your mouth lying in wait to slay? Do you just love to pass on that juicy morsel that somebody has just delivered to you? Instead of doing that, the moment you hear the rattle of the saber of hypocrisy, do you get out your instrument to provide deliverance by delivering those who are slain by the wicked?

The Mouth of the Wicked Conceals Violence

Turn to Proverbs, chapter 10, and notice verse 11:

Proverbs 10:

11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Are you righteous? Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? Then your mouth ought to be a well of life in the sense that it is going to tell everybody what Christ has done and that He provides eternal life. But what did we read here about the mouth of the wicked? “…violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.” Here the proper idea is not presented because it sounds as if violence has been placed over the mouth of the wicked man, but that is not what it means at all. It means that the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

Violence in this portion of the Word of God is a word that is used to describe anything that is related to any kind of lawlessness and evil. Are you part and party to concealing evil with your mouth? Perhaps you are, unconsciously. Perhaps because you are not as informed as you ought to be, you have been duped into saying things that are not true, and you are hiding violence that ought to be revealed.

Use Your Mouth for a Right Relationship with God

What has God got to do with the welfare of mankind? When a man is right with God, then he is in right relationship to man. The mouth is used here in the book of Proverbs in connection with your relationship with God. Notice, please, chapter 14, verse 3:

Proverbs 14:

3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.

This is regarding God. How many men have failed to receive all that God has for them because of the rod of pride which is in their mouth? That rod of pride is unbending. They would not bend their knees, confess their sin, acknowledge their shortcomings that God might bless. That rod of pride holds them upright, but what a difference in the lips of the wise. The lips of the wise shall preserve them in the sense that they are quite willing and quite ready to acknowledge to God their need of Him. Glance at Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 3:

Proverbs 13:

3 He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.

Here the thought is related to the individual who speaks guardedly with his lips. He can expect his life to be blessed of God, but the man who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. The phrase, “openeth wide,” is a phrase that speaks of blasphemy and rebellion against God. You see, Beloved, there is a way that you can use your mouth for the welfare of mankind by using it for a right relationship with God.

As we continue thinking about these proverbs, gathering them together under certain areas of thought, I would like to suggest to you, because it has been a blessing to my own heart, what I have discovered in this section concerning the satisfaction of the wise use of the mouth. Haven't you had the experience of saying something and wishing you hadn't said it? Perhaps you said, “I could have bitten my tongue out. I just wish I hadn't said that.” Well, you needn't worry about biting your tongue out if you know how to use your mouth, and oh, what satisfaction it is when you use a mouth wisely.

For example, in the area of advice. When people come to you for advice, keep in mind everything that I have said about a studied answer and don't just let things gush out of your mouth like water gushing out of a pipe where there is no restriction. Recognize that you have a tremendous privilege when people come to you for advice, a tremendous responsibility.

Proverbs, chapter 18, verse 20, expresses the satisfaction that is yours when you know that you have given the correct advice and the advice has been helpful and effective. Notice verse 20:

Proverbs 18:

20 A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.

The way that is written means very little to you. Keep in mind that the word belly , as it is used in the book of Proverbs, does not refer to the stomach where you put your food eventually. It refers to the inner part of man, and so one who has paraphrased a portion of the Word, says, “The ability to give wise advice satisfies like a good meal.” You know how satisfied you are when you are well fed. The ability to give wise advice satisfies like a good meal. Learn to develop that ability.

In the area of honesty, if you are a believer, how convicted are you if you have told a lie? I say to you that if you as a believer can lie and not be convicted by the Holy Spirit about it, there is something wrong with your relationship with God. I don't mean you will quit lying, but you will be convicted if you do. You will realize that you have lied, and you will be miserable about it until you have done something either with God or with man or with both.

Notice chapter 12, verse 14:

Proverbs 12:

14 A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompence of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him.

The Paraphrased suggests: “Telling the truth gives a man a great deal of satisfaction, and hard work returns many blessings to him.” We pointed out to you that in this area of the book of Proverbs, the purpose of the wise man is to use one statement and then another statement as an illustration. You are all aware that hard work returns many blessings to a man, when in the same sense telling the truth gives a man a great deal of satisfaction.

Isn't it a good thing to be so honest? I am not talking about being brutally frank. There is a difference, you know. Isn't it good to be so honest that when you think about seeing someone, regardless of who it may be, you are not going to have to wonder how they are going to feel if they find out you have lied; and if they are not quite as friendly as they have been in the past, if you have told the truth, you don't wonder about it. If you have lied, oh, the agony you have. You wonder if they have found out and if that is why they are acting the way they are acting. What satisfaction there is in truth. What satisfaction there is when you have used your mouth wisely in the area of honesty.

Notice Proverbs, chapter 15, verse 23:

Proverbs 15:

23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

You have had the experience, I am sure, of saying something and as soon as you said it, you knew you shouldn't have said it. You say, “Oh, I am so sorry I said that,” and the person says, “That is all right,” but you know it isn't all right. But you say the right thing and you go away feeling so good because you have said the right thing at the right time. A word said in the right way at the right time—how good it is.

Use of the Mouth in Encouragement

Notice the area of encouragement. Do I need to remind you that there is a tremendous need for encouragement all around you? If you have a ministry to broken hearts, if you have a ministry for people who are burdened, you will have a full time ministry. There are a lot of folk in need of encouragement. God has given you a mouth, and you can use it wisely in the area of encouragement and do a tremendous amount of good. Look at Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 24:

Proverbs 16:

24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Do you realize that that is a good principle of psychology, and a good psychiatrist in certain areas of need would recommend such a thing as this? Look at the verse again:

Proverbs 16:

24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Did you know that you can improve the health of people by the right words? I have read several articles concerning people who believe that if they talk to their plants, they will do better than if they don't talk to them. They have actually experimented with it. They have a geranium over here, and it is real weak and sickly. They spend some time talking to it, and it begins to grow. Sometimes they even leave the radio on. People think seriously about it.


I don't know about plants, but I do know about people. I know that you as a believer can do a whole lot by saying a pleasant thing to somebody who is in need. You can go to see someone who is ill, and I guess it is because people don't know what to say, but they always say the wrong thing. By the time two or three people have said it, it doesn't matter what the doctor has said about the reports. The person knows the doctor is lying and they are dying, and they might as well prepare for the funeral. But the next day a few people can come in and say a few pleasant words, and the doctor comes in and says, “ I have to be brutally frank with you. You have only a little while to live,” they say that the doctor is wrong. A few pleasant words make a difference.

How are you using your mouth? These are some suggestions about the way you should.

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