Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Improve your image and reputation instantly! Anyone can do it, even a fool! Cut your words in half, and others will consider you a wise and knowledgeable person. What a proverb! Here is profound advice to immediately enhance what others think about you.
Hasty speech, unstudied speech, or much speech marks a fool. Closing your mouth and reducing your words will cause others to assume you are a wise and understanding person, even if you are a fool. God and King Solomon, both truly wise, guarantee it.
Speech reveals character (Pr 15:2; 29:11; Eccl 5:3; 10:12-14). Careful, deliberate, profitable, and proper speech marks a wise man. Hasty, impulsive, vain, and froward words mark a foolish and wicked man. A fool seldom says anything profitable or suitable (Eccl 10:3); but reducing his words will make others think him careful and deliberate!
It is wisdom to see and hear well, but to say little. You learn by listening, not by talking. You should not talk until necessary or profitable. Other men will presume your silence to indicate your careful observation and deep consideration of the topic and a deep search for the right thoughts and words before speaking! Has wisdom ever been so cheap?
The tongue is dangerous and easily hurts others (Pr 10:19; 18:21; Jas 3:2-12), so wise men limit words to avoid sin (Pr 17:27; Job 13:5), and they study before speaking (Pr 15:28). It is better to be swift at hearing than at speaking (Jas 1:19-20). God gave you two ears but only one mouth. Cutting your words in half will then match your anatomy.
Ah, but the fire to speak burns in some men (Ps 39:1-3). They cannot quench this fire; they cannot reduce the heat; they cannot rule the impulse; they must talk, now! What a curse to have an unruly mouth and tell everyone within hearing distance that you are a fool. Close your mouth, and even though you truly are one, none but you will know it!
This proverb does not apply to all men, as some do not speak enough. Wise men learn the balance, not too much to be foolish, enough to be a tree of life (Pr 10:21; 12:18; 15:4,23). It is this careful application of absolute Bible statements that results in truth and wisdom. If we press this rule on quiet men that seldom speak, they would never say anything.
If this rule is true for men, it is truer for women, whose adorning feature is a meek and quiet spirit (I Pet 3:3-4). A talkative woman should cut her words in half to make sure she is not despised as the odious and clamorous woman (Pr 9:13; 11:16; 27:15; 30:23). With these two inspired reasons to speak less, such a woman will cut her words to a quarter.
President Abraham Lincoln, long after King Solomon wrote his proverbs, confirmed this rule of wisdom and public decorum by his well-known words from a different angle, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt."
If you do not have anything necessary, profitable, or good to say, why talk? Others do not need noise to be happy or content. Silence is golden. Making conversation to fill a void is disturbing the peace and foolish talking, for which you will be judged (Eph 5:3-5). You are the fulfillment of crackling thorns that Solomon so despised (Eccl 7:4-6).
What a proverb! What practical advice from God and Solomon! Most people do not appreciate the incredible value of the Bible, for they have not read it, or they have not had teachers that read it. Thank God for inspiring a book that covers everything from creation to the effect of speech on reputation to the final judgment and everything in between.
The Lord Jesus Christ warned that you will give an account for every idle word in the Day of Judgment (Matt 12:36). So provide wisely for your future at His judgment seat and protect your present reputation by holding your peace and shutting your lips. Here is a double blessing, at least. Please God and men by reducing your words.
Though men may think you wise for your reduced speech, the living Word of God is not deceived at all. All things are naked and opened before His eyes; He discerns the very thoughts and intents of your heart (Heb 4:12-14). So it is better to forsake your foolishness altogether and seek true wisdom in your heart. You cannot mislead Him.