Proverbs 26c

Be Wary of Words.

“Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty blaze covers a clay pot.” – Proverbs 26:23 NLT

It is amazing how much the Book of Proverbs has to say about the topic of what comes out of our mouths. From flattery to lying, gossip to arguing, and rumors to wise words, there are countless passages dealing with the topic of the tongue. Much of the time it is warning us about watching what we say. It is challenging us to keep a close eye on our tongue and the words that we speak. But as in the case of today’s verse, it also warns us to be wary of the words others speak to us. It is amazing just how susceptible we all are to the words of others. As human beings, we can be so desperate for praise that we become easy prey for those who have less-than-righteous objectives. That is why flattery and false praise can be so dangerous and we can so easily taken in by it all.

Solomon warns us to look beyond the words themselves to the heart of the one speaking. Words can be used to hide true motives, disguise intent, and distract the hearer by telling them what they want to hear. Like colorful glaze used to cover a drab clay pot, smooth-sounding words may be just a cover up to dress up what’s really there. Solomon gives us an everyday life example. “People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you” (Proverbs 26:24 NLT). These kind of people know full well what they’re doing. They’re hiding from you what is really in their hearts and attempting to make you think that all is well. This can happen between a husband and wife, a parent and child, two friends or two fellow believers. “They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them,” Solomon warns (Proverbs 26:25 NLT). The real danger is that because we can be so susceptible to smooth words, we can actually soak in what they’re saying like a dry sponge. We so want to hear words of praise and flattery, that we can fail to consider the source or think about the intent. Solomon makes it clear that he is talking about those who have wicked hearts that are filled with evil. He is warning us against people who have a reputation for hatred and wrongdoing. And yet, we can find ourselves actually buying into their lies because we so want to hear what they have to say to us. We can be so desirous of kind words, that we will take them from just about any source. But Solomon warns, “Don’t believe them!” They’re lying. They don’t believe what they’re saying and you shouldn’t either. Consider the source. Think carefully about the heart of the one praising you. “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin” (Proverbs 26:28 NLT). Do not allow your need for praise to numb you to the truth. Don’t listen to the Siren’s call.

In Greek mythology, the Sirens were portrayed as dangerous and devious creatures, who usually took the form of beautiful women in distress and lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices. Casting caution to the wind and falling prey to the flattering cry of the Sirens, these seasoned sailors would steer their ships directly into the rocks along the coastline, resulting in their own death. Remember, “They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils” (Proverbs 26:25 NLT). The wisdom of God gives discernment. It opens our eyes to the truth. Without it, we will listen to the smooth words and deceived by the glossy veneer. To our own detriment.

Father, words are powerful. They can lull us into a sense of stupor and self-satisfaction. We are all so easily deceived by the words of others. Give us the wisdom to hear what is really being said. May our desire for You be greater than our desire for flattery and false praise. May we find our worth in You so we are less prone to seek our worth in the words of others. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men