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Proverbs 21:23 & meaning...


guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles.

Proverbs 21:23


Proverbs 21 [20.] There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise;

    but a foolish man swallows it up.

He who follows after righteousness and kindness

    finds life, righteousness, and honor.

A wise man scales the city of the mighty,

    and brings down the strength of its confidence.

Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue

    keeps his soul from troubles.

The proud and haughty man, “scoffer” is his name;

    he works in the arrogance of pride.


This proverb, like many in the Book of Proverbs, offers practical wisdom for living a righteous and peaceful life. It emphasizes the importance of controlling one's speech to avoid unnecessary problems and conflicts. 

Wisdom Literature: The Book of Proverbs is part of the Bible's wisdom literature, providing practical advice on how to live wisely and avoid folly. Many of the proverbs attributed to Solomon deal with themes such as speech, behavior, and personal conduct.

Themes: Proverbs frequently highlights the power of words and the importance of speaking wisely. This particular verse aligns with others that warn against the dangers of careless or harmful speech.

  • Key Elements of the Verse:

Guarding the Mouth and Tongue: This phrase implies a deliberate and vigilant effort to control what one says. It involves thinking before speaking and being mindful of the impact of our words.

Keeping the Soul from Troubles: The "soul" here refers to one's life and well-being. By guarding our speech, we can avoid conflicts, misunderstandings, and other troubles that arise from careless or harmful words.

Theological Significance

  • Power of Words:

Creative and Destructive Potential: Words have the power to build up or tear down. Proverbs 18:21 states, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue; those who love it will eat its fruit." This underscores the significant impact our words can have on others and ourselves.

Reflection of the Heart: Jesus taught that our words reflect the condition of our hearts. In Matthew 12:34, He says, "For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." Therefore, guarding our speech also involves nurturing a heart aligned with God's wisdom and love.

  • Wisdom in Speech:

Avoiding Sin: James 3:2 notes, "For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn’t stumble in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also." This highlights the difficulty and importance of controlling our speech as a sign of maturity and wisdom.

Promoting Peace: Proverbs 15:1 teaches, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Wise speech promotes peace and harmony, reducing the likelihood of conflict and trouble.

Applications for Our Lives

  • Practicing Self-Control:

Think Before Speaking: Cultivate the habit of pausing before you speak. Consider the potential impact of your words and whether they are necessary, kind, and true.

Pray for Guidance: Ask God for wisdom and self-control in your speech. James 1:5 encourages us to seek God’s wisdom, which He generously provides.

  • Building Others Up:

Encourage and Edify: Use your words to build up and encourage others. Ephesians 4:29 advises, "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but only what is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear."

Speak Truth in Love: Balance honesty with kindness. Speak truthfully, but do so in a way that is loving and considerate.

  • Avoiding Harmful Speech:

Refrain from Gossip: Proverbs 16:28 warns, "A perverse man stirs up strife. A whisperer separates close friends." Avoid gossip and slander, which can cause significant harm to relationships.

Control Anger: Proverbs 29:11 states, "A fool vents all his anger, but a wise man keeps it back and calms it." Manage your anger and avoid speaking in the heat of the moment, which can lead to regrettable words.


James 1:26: "If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn’t bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is worthless." This verse underscores the importance of controlling one’s speech as a genuine expression of faith and devotion.

Psalm 141:3: "Set a watch, LORD, before my mouth. Keep the door of my lips." This prayer from the psalmist highlights the need for divine help in guarding our speech.

Proverbs 13:3: "He who guards his mouth guards his soul. One who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." This proverb reinforces the message that careful speech protects our well-being, while careless words lead to trouble.

Conclusion: Proverbs 21:23 offers timeless wisdom about the importance of guarding our speech. It teaches us that controlling our words can prevent many troubles and protect our well-being. In a world where words are often used carelessly, this proverb calls us to be mindful of the power of our speech.

For us today, this verse encourages us to practice self-control, use our words to build others up, and avoid harmful speech. By doing so, we can foster peace, promote positive relationships, and reflect the wisdom and love of God in our interactions. Seeking God’s guidance and wisdom in our speech not only benefits our own lives but also positively impacts those around us, creating a more loving and harmonious community.

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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