The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
Your mouth is an opening to your heart. It is a passageway that lets out what is in your heart. A righteous man has a good and noble heart, and his mouth is a well of life to those around him. He comforts, encourages, and instructs them. A wicked man has an evil heart, and his mouth is filled with violence. He hurts and destroys those around him.
You can know the heart of a man by his speech (Pr 10:20). Many like to say, “You do not know my heart,” but it is easy to know their hearts by the kind of words that come from their lips. Gentle, gracious, helpful, kind, or modest speech proves a virtuous heart. But caustic, critical, cruel, harsh, negative, or slanderous words prove a depraved heart.
The Lord Jesus Christ explained this proverb. He said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matt 12:34-35).
This proverb is an observation by Solomon. You can measure a person’s character by their speech. A good man knows acceptable words, and he says them at the right time (Pr 10:32; 15:23; 25:11). It makes you want to kiss his lips (Pr 24:26)! He speaks with a good purpose – to comfort, heal, encourage, teach, or warn (Pr 13:14; 15:7). He adds to the peace, pleasure, and prosperity of those around him (Pr 12:18; 15:26; 16:24; 18:4).
A wicked man cannot rule his mouth, so it spews forth the volcanic evil of his heart. He talks far more than he should (Pr 15:2,28; Eccl 10:12-14). The harsh, hateful, or sarcastic sword of his mouth leaves others bleeding (Pr 12:18; Ps 52:2). He has no regret or remorse for ruining the reputations of others by backbiting, slandering, talebearing, or whispering (Pr 26:20-28). He is often a false witness and liar (Pr 14:5; 18:21; 25:18).
The proverb has two metaphors. How is the mouth of a righteous man a well of life? It is a place where refreshing speech can satisfy your longings and invigorate your soul. How does violence cover the mouth of the wicked? There are no refreshing waters in his mouth, for his mouth is only violent. Compare “covereth” elsewhere (Ps 73:6; Jer 3:25).
Reader, what will you do with this lesson? Do others crave your words and conversation like a thirsty man craves a well? Does your speech bless and enhance their lives? Or do others dread being around you, because your words are critical, negative, and destructive? If you have undesirable speech, confess it to God, and beg for a new heart.
What you think about your speech is entirely irrelevant. Your heart is the most deceitful thing on this planet (Jer 17:9-10). You may safely measure your speech by the degree to which others want to be in your presence and listen to your words. If you are short on friends, it is because your mouth is too violent in some respect. Purify your speech!
How can you improve your speech? If you talk a lot, then talk less (Pr 17:27-28; Jas 1:19). Make sure your speech is always gracious (Pr 22:11; Eccl 10:12; Col 4:6). Make sure it is always helpful (Pr 10:31; 31:26; Eph 4:29). Learn the truth well to give certain answers to those asking (Pr 22:17-21; I Pet 3:15). Bless and praise God (Ps 34:1-3)!
Ministers! Of all men, your mouth must be a deep well of life, for you bring the good news of the gospel of peace. You should have the most comforting, encouraging, and helpful words in the universe! But make sure you preach His word, rather than the fables and entertainment most seek today (I Cor 2:1-5; I Thes 2:13; II Tim 3:14-17; 4:1-4)
What kind of a mouth did the Lord Jesus Christ have? It was a deep, deep well with water that satisfied the soul forever (John 4:13-14; 6:63,68). His words were so gracious that they stunned a synagogue into silence (Ps 45:2; Luke 4:20-22). When He spoke the things of Scripture, the hearts of those hearing Him burned with pleasure (Luke 24:32). What a glorious example! Let Him and His speech be your guide today.