A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
God loves peacemakers, and He blesses them greatly (Mat 5:9; Jas 3:17-18; II Cor 13:11). You can be a peacemaker. You can end fights, grudges, and anger. This short proverb is one of Solomon’s best. You can use its wisdom every day for God’s blessing.
The wisdom is simple. If someone is angry, use gentle speech to calm them. Do not use defensive or harsh words, for that will increase anger. You can end conflict and fighting by calming words. Reject the foolish and wicked response of fighting fire with fire.
Can a person fight a pillow? Impossible! The pillow will take any blows given to it without hitting back. There is no fight; all punches are absorbed, and the pillow is not hurt; anger quickly gives up, and the fight is over. Can you be a pillow to others’ anger?
How can there be a fight, if one person turns the other cheek (Matt 5:38-42)? What rare wisdom taught by Solomon’s greatest son, Jesus Christ! Rather than fight personal enemies, love them, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them (Matt 5:39-43).
Here is one of Solomon’s most valuable proverbs. If you remember this rule, you can handle every angry adversary and any confrontation. If everyone practiced this rule, peace would be increased in every place. What a blessed rule, from the Prince of Peace!
A common phrase from schoolyards to explain fighting declares, “It takes two to fight.” How true! If either party were to stop fighting and show kindness, every fight would end. School teachers and principals know this rule and use it to find both offenders in a fight.
You can have a profound influence for peace by ending fights in your part of the world. Starting in your marriage and family and working all the way out to your business, church, and neighborhood, you should be known by God and men as a great peacemaker.
But provocative and offensive words, the words you naturally think of when angrily confronted or defending yourself due to pride, cause fights to continue and escalate. Sometimes they are rightly called “fighting words.” A fight will get worse and do greater damage, unless you quickly bring the anger and contention to an end (Pr 17:14; 26:21).
If a person is angry with you, even if it is your fault, you can end the matter peaceably by responding gently and kindly, rather than with your own anger in defense (Pr 12:16; 15:18; 29:22). Will you crush your pride and end the fight (Pr 13:10; 21:24; 28:25)? The rule works with family members, job situations, the government, or anyone else. Use it.
It is your pride that argues against this wisdom by saying you must protect yourself. Fighting responses are only needed in severe provocations such as life or death situations or where criminal conduct could cost you dearly. Otherwise, the ordinary conflicts of life and transgressions by others are overlooked and ignored by glorious persons (Pr 19:11).
Measure yourself by this rule of self-discipline and peacemaking. Do you get irritated by others’ provocation? Must you retort to anything said about you? Do you have to get the last word in? Are you prone to self-justification rather than self-deprecation? Do you excuse your tendency to argue by appealing to principle, even though it is clearly pride?
Solomon taught men to fear kings or other civil rulers, for kings in those times had great authority and power (Pr 19:12; 20:2; Eccl 8:2-5). But he also taught that yielding could pacify even their violent wrath (Pr 16:14; Eccl 10:4). Soft words are your most powerful weapon against an offended prince, or anyone else (Pr 25:15). Learn the wise habit.
God loves peacemakers (Matt 5:9), and Jesus taught those who had offended others to go be reconciled to them (Matt 5:23-26). Jesus applied the proverb by teaching you to agree quickly with your adversary for peace. God’s spirit, which every true Christian desires to have, is peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, and actively makes peace (Jas 3:17-18).
The sons of Zeruiah, David’s famous nephews known for their military success and great passion, were too hard for him (II Sam 3:39). They could never use soft words, for they did not have soft hearts. Jesus even rebuked the sons of thunder, James and John, for their ungodly spirit toward some ignorant and disrespectful Samaritans (Luke 9:51-56).
To be the peacemaker you should be to please God and be successful with men, you must start on the inside with your spirit toward others (Jas 3:13-18). Gracious and soft words can only come from a pure and gentle heart (Pr 22:11; Luke 6:45). Your gracious speech should only rarely be seasoned with salt like that of Jesus Christ (Col 4:6; II Cor 10:1).