She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
Great women have wise and kind speech. A virtuous woman is gracious in word and deed, and she is always admired and honored (Pr 11:16; 31:28). Her family and others praise her, and she benefits all those around her by the gentle and helpful things she says.
An odious woman, the kind of woman the earth cannot stand (Pr 30:21-23), is known by foolish and critical speech (Pr 9:13; 21:19). Her husband cannot get away from her (Pr 25:24), and he cannot hide his marital shame in public due to her mouth (Pr 27:15-16).
This proverb reminds women how they can enhance their reputations and contributions to those around them. But God gave it for another reason. It is an excellent prerequisite for young men to look for in finding a great woman for marriage. Young man, pay attention.
Here is one of the defining marks of good and bad women – how do they talk? What is their speech like? A virtuous woman is always careful, discreet, and helpful with what she says. And she seldom says anything harsh, negative, or sarcastic; she is gracious. This is not rocket science, and it usually only takes a few minutes to make a correct judgment.
King Lemuel’s mother taught him how to find a great wife (Pr 31:1,10). The rule taught by this proverb is of great value for all men. Instead of looking at women, listen to them! Looking will deceive you by the temptation of their bodies and eyes (Pr 6:25; 31:30), but listening more accurately reveals character (Pr 14:7; Eccl 10:3,12-14; Matt 12:34-37).
What precious wisdom! Many men have been seduced into marital hell and years of frustration and pain by marrying a body and forgetting what noise it could make every day for the rest of its life. You have seen these women and their husbands, and it should cause grief for him and anger at her. When God inspired a king’s mother to give wise advice like this for finding a queen, you should give it deep and long consideration.
A great woman worth marrying speaks wisely. She does not argue or give her opinion until it is asked for. She does not respond emotionally. She does not cackle or giggle. She does not jest or poke. She does not complain or pout. She uses her mouth to spread wisdom (Pr 1:8; 6:20; 15:7; 20:15). She does talk: she feeds many by sober answers with certain words of truth (Pr 11:30; 22:17-21). She only makes a noise when it helps others.
She knows the right words for any occasion (Pr 10:32; 24:26). She would never sing songs to a heavy heart (Pr 25:20). She has warnings for the unruly, comfort for the feebleminded, support for the weak, and patience toward all (I Thess 5:14). Criticism is only when necessary, and then only a pinch, and then only with grace (Col 4:6). Her words instruct others in the pure faith of the gospel and direct them upward toward God.
She is cautious and only speaks after studying her answer to a question or situation (Pr 15:28; 18:13). She says only what is needed and holds the rest in reserve (Pr 29:11). Her words are appreciated, esteemed, and sought for, because there is always value. Like Abigail, she knows how to defuse even an angry and great man with wise counsel (I Sam 25:20-35). Like Priscilla, she can help convert a theologian to the truth (Ac 18:24-26).
When a man marries such a woman, he has engaged the assistance of a wise counselor for himself, his children, their spouses, his grandchildren, his friends, their wives, and others. What a blessing! His children will get sound, practical, godly, and scriptural advice when needed. He knows she will hold the company line at all times! He knows that with women or others where he may be limited, she will give them the plain truth.
An odious woman – the hated, obnoxious, repugnant woman – should never be married (Pr 30:21-23). She is a curse to the earth! She should be forced to live in isolated misery. Parents of young men should blacklist her from courting. Her constant contentions, nagging, and questions drive men crazy. So they run to the rooftop or wilderness to get away from her criticizing and irritating mouth (Pr 12:4; 19:13; 21:9,19; 25:24; 27:15-16).
How do you spot this curse before it is too late? Listen, rather than look! She may fix her hair and buy nice clothes to get you down the aisle. But she cannot control her mouth! Solomon said hiding her was as likely as hiding the wind or perfume (Pr 27:15-16). If she has an opinion without you asking for it, run! Remember the rule of 10! If she must give you her opinion before marriage, it will be 10 times worse later (Pr 30:21-23).
How do you spot this curse before it is too late? Count her words. A woman of good understanding says little (Pr 17:27-28). She knows God commanded and exalted a meek and quiet spirit for women, and she knows what quiet means (I Pet 3:3-4). If you smell the loud and proud type, run! Life with an odious woman is worse than death (Pr 30:21-23; Eccl 7:26)! Why not volunteer to be a naked beekeeper, or a first-year band teacher?
A great woman worth marrying is always gracious (Pr 11:16). Instead of a rude, froward, harsh, or sarcastic tongue (Pr 12:18), she has kind speech from a pure heart (Pr 22:11). Her graciousness cannot be hid – she is highly esteemed and loved by all. A gracious woman is not haughty, distant, or irritating; she is condescendingly courteous (Rom 12:16). She always has a good and gentle word that puts the whole world in a good light.
There is a law in her tongue – one she never violates. She is always gentle, kind, patient, sweet, thoughtful, and respectful. In spite of her own abilities and accomplishments (Pr 31:10-25,27-29), she is still wise and kind in her speech. She does not know how to be critical, harsh, or impatient. Her delightful speech is wonderful (Pr 15:23; 16:24; 24:26; 25:11). It is the sweetest music to a man’s ears and the warmest embrace of his heart!
She will lift you up when you are discouraged, praise you when others criticize, and remind you of things you want to hear when you need them. She will lovingly flatter you to greater confidence and pleasure in life. When you have children, she will comfort them with verbal security, encourage them to greatness by prudent praise, and teach them how to love and serve by always speaking well of others. You have greatly enhanced your life.
Listen, young man, listen! God and a queen mother have put life-saving advice before you. Follow your ears to the feminine sound of prudent words spoken in gentle kindness. You are about to meet one of God’s greatest gifts (Pr 18:22; 19:14; Gen 2:18-25). You will find a woman worth loving the rest of your life. The bigger question now becomes, will you be worthy of her? Such a woman deserves a loving and noble prince. Are you?
Her mouth is worth more than kisses, though kiss you it will! Her words will provide daily gentleness to enliven and warm your home, enhance every meal, encourage you in distress, comfort you in sorrow, reward you for labor, seduce you in lovemaking, ennoble you with sincere praise, and fulfill your life with grateful appreciation. Are you worthy?
Christian woman, is your speech loud, loose, or long? Is your personality overbearing or business-like? If overbearing, loud, and strong, you need more help than other women. You may not even grasp this lesson, because of your desire to speak, question, debate, correct, nag, criticize, complain, suggest, or jab. You measure your worth by how much you say, but you do not know the frustration and pain you cause those around you.
If you are business-like or aloof with few words, you also have a problem, for even your kind speech has an edge that makes people cringe. Loosen your face, smile, and warm up your speech to be less efficient and more affectionate. No one cares for your directness, because they crave your graciousness. If your words are wise, you are half a virtuous woman; a complete woman also has a kind tongue, and it is hearers’ opinions that count.
Take stock of yourself. Do noble friends crave your presence? Are you well liked by good people? If not, you likely have a sharp tongue and hurtful mouth. What can you do about this problem? Stop talking: let others ask for you to speak (Pr 17:27-28; Jas 1:19). Learn submission: let your husband give you your opinion (Gen 3:16). Esteem reverence: treat him like a lord (Eph 5:33; I Pet 3:6). Only say nice things, period (Col 4:6)!
Christian woman, it is your duty and privilege to rule your tongue for the glory of God and the praise of your feminine nature. If you are older, you are to avoid false accusing and pursue teaching godly virtues (Titus 2:3). If you are younger, you are to avoid tattling and other indiscreet talking (I Tim 5:13). A wonderful reputation and the loving favor of others is a choice – an easy choice (Pr 22:1,11; 4:23). Speak only wisely and kindly!
Parent, teach your daughters the importance of wise and gracious speech. It is more important than her academic education, physical attractiveness, or earning power. It will bring the attention and honor of God and good men. If you do not, she should live with you for the rest of your life. A henpecked husband proves derelict parents of a daughter.
Parent, teach your sons to date and marry only a woman fulfilling this proverb. He will be blessed his entire life, and you will have this charming woman for your daughter-in-law. Every family event will be enhanced because you guided your son according to God’s inspired and infallible word. A henpecked husband proves derelict parents of a son.
The church of Christ, which is often compared to a virgin bride in Scripture, should be known for its wise and kind speech (Eph 4:29; Col 4:6). Do you open your mouth with wisdom and have a law of kindness in your tongue? Whether you are a man or a woman in the church of Christ, your speech should be worthy of your glorious Husband!