There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
Can you measure real wealth? What is more precious than gold and a pile of rubies? How would the richest and wisest king answer this question? He would tell you that excellent speech is more valuable. You work hard nearly every day to make money and get ahead. Do you also labor to acquire wisdom and fit that learning in your lips to help others?
The world’s ideas of importance and value are worthless, but they are also deceitful and destructive. If you listen to them, you will be distracted from life’s real priorities and miss God’s best for your life. They stress professional success and financial gain, but God’s wise king and philosopher taught very differently – excellent speech is your goal!
If a poor man valued good speech over wealth, no one would care, because he never had financial power to make a valid comparison. King Solomon was not so. God made him very rich, and in his days gold and rubies were plentiful, and men sought them (II Chr 1:12,15). His high esteem of speech here is very weighty. God had also given him a wise and understanding heart, so he knew real value more than any other man (I Kgs 3:5-14).
Gold is a metal – rubies a mineral. They are dirt or stones; take your pick. But men crave and accumulate them. They are a hazard. Thieves pursue them; governments tax them; neighbors envy them; they must be protected and insured; used once they are gone. Excellent speech is a rare jewel you can use over and over, free from any of these risks.
What knowledge did Solomon intend here? Not the hallucinations and lies taught at Cambridge or Harvard! He meant real knowledge – real wisdom – real understanding. He meant the worldview, philosophy, judgment, equity, and truth that comes from fearing the LORD (Pr 1:7; 9:10; Eccl 12:13-14). This is the only knowledge worth repeating!
The best Oxford or Yale can do is add to the information explosion rocking the world, clogging the Internet, and choking the mind with profitless data of worthless endeavors (II Tim 3:6-7). But most of their knowledge is deceitful and fraudulent – evolutionary theory, global warming, same-sex nonsense, humanism, socialism, individualism, etc.
Truth is the key – what is right and good against what is wrong and evil. A life pleasing God and good men is the goal – for yourself and others. Only certain speech serves both ends, and it was this speech Solomon stressed (Pr 22:17-21; 23:23). You must find and learn the absolute truth and final authority of God’s word, and then you must share it charitably, graciously, and discreetly to profit your hearers (I Cor 13:1-7; Eph 4:15).
Using your mouth and words to help others is part of the second commandment, the love of others (Mark 12:29-31). The ability and effort to instruct, comfort, correct, and warn others are marks of great and noble men (Pr 10:21; 11:30; 12:18; 15:4,7; 16:21,24). Can you do this? Do you do this? Do you have true knowledge to impart to others?
Acquiring knowledge requires effort. You must reject distractions to study diligently (Pr 18:1). You must humble yourself to teachers (Pr 2:1-2). You must fervently pray for it (Pr 2:3; Jas 1:5; Ps 119:18). You must search for it like hid treasure (Pr 2:4-5). You must use the only source book of wisdom (Ps 19:7-11; Is 8:20; I Tim 6:3-5; II Tim 3:16-17).
Speaking well has rules. Hear the matter first (Pr 18:13; Jas 1:19). Look past appearances to evaluate rightly (Jn 7:24). Have the certain words of truth in your mind (Pr 22:17-21; 16:23; Heb 5:12-14). Prepare your answer, unless sure already (Pr 15:28). Use few rather than many words (Pr 10:19; Ec 5:2). Be gracious (Pr 10:32; 22:11; Eccl 10:12; Col 4:6).
Excellent speech is rare, for few have it; it is valuable, because it benefits others; the combination makes it more precious than gold or rubies. Such speech is a very good thing (Pr 15:23). Such speakers deserve a kiss on the lips (Pr 24:26), are as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl (Pr 25:11), and are like gold jewelry to wise hearers (Pr 25:12).
The lips of knowledge are rewarded by helping others (Pr 9:9; Job 29:21-25; Jas 5:19-20). But God and good men further bless wise speakers (Pr 18:20; 27:9). Even kings will be affected so as to honor such men (Pr 16:13; 22:11). There are some very rare speakers, like glorious jewels, that shine like bright stars in the heavens (Dan 12:3; Mal 3:16-17).
Grasp the lesson. Plan to add real value in your life – beyond monetary assets or business acumen. Start in your heart and mind, for that is where words come from (Luke 6:45; Pr 4:23; Ps 119:11). Exalt God highly in your heart by fearing and loving Him, and then settle on the infallible wisdom of scripture (Pr 22:17-21; I Pet 3:15; I Tim 4:13-16).
Every extra hour you spend pursuing professional success or financial wealth, remember that a wise man would invest in the more valuable commodity of excellent speech. Every time you open your mouth, think about the good you could do, and fear and hate the damage you could do (Pr 12:18; 18:21). Measure your words by God’s holy balances.
God has a great company of preachers, who with the lips of knowledge taught many over several millennia (Ps 68:11). So valuable is their work of communicating God’s word to others that even their feet are called beautiful (Is 52:7). Elihu told Job they were as rare as one in a thousand (Job 33:23-24). Do you have one for your profit (Acts 8:30-31; 10:33)?
Jesus Christ was the greatest Man ever. He had the most precious lips of knowledge. Though poor by earthly and foolish measures of importance, all His speech of any kind was glorious (Is 50:4; Matt 7:28-29; 22:46; Luk 4:22,36; 24:32; John 7:46; I Tim 6:3). Do you know Him? Have you heard the words of life from Him (John 6:63,68)?