Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
Wise men study and store knowledge before they talk. Fools talk without study, and their stores of knowledge, their minds, are empty. Here is the plain difference between a wise man and a fool – one knows what he talks about, and the other talks out of ignorance.
You have seen and heard both men. The wise man is reserved before speaking, and he is careful while speaking. He is cautious in his claims, deliberate in his declarations, and sober in his speech. The fool loves to talk. One-on-one, he can hardly stop, even for air. In a group, he dominates the conversation, as he keeps words tumbling from his mouth.
Wise men, by prudence and reluctance about talking, are safe (Pr 15:2; 16:23; 20:5). A wise man, when asked a question, will seek to study before he answers, unless he is certain of his knowledge on that subject (Pr 15:28; 24:26; 25:11; 29:11). He is committed to learning all that he can, and only then does he offer it to others (Pr 1:5; 9:9; 18:1,15).
Fools, loving the sound of their words, get in deep trouble. They over-commit in financial transactions (Pr 6:1-5); they get into disputes before knowing the facts (Pr 25:8); they whisper foolishly about others (Pr 25:9-10); they expose themselves prematurely (Pr 29:11); and these are only some of their errors. They talk too much while knowing too little. Their many words reveal they are fools, and they are soon destroyed for ignorance.
Wise men lay up knowledge; fools lay out words. Wise men study; fools talk. Wise men are concerned about truth; fools are anxious to be heard. Wise men are quick to hear and slow to speak; fools are slow to hear and quick to speak. Wise men despise fools. Wise men grow in favor with God and men; fools are despised and rejected by both.
Be a wise man with your mouth, and it will bring success. You begin by learning to speak less and listen more (Pr 17:27-28; Jas 1:19). Emphasize study over speech (Pr 15:28; 22:17-21). Make sure you grasp a situation before answering (Pr 18:13; John 7:24). You then make sure each word properly fits the occasion (Pr 15:23; 25:11). And you present each word with graciousness, using only a pinch of salt, if the hearers require it (Col 4:6).
The holy God of heaven is coming to judge men for their words (Matt 12:37). You will give an account for every idle word – those spoken without study or cause (Matt 12:36). And He hates foolish talking and jesting, the mainstay of this generation (Eph 5:3-7). Are you ready to meet this Judge? “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps 19:14).