In preparation to preach on James 3, I read through the Book of Proverbs looking for all of the verses that referred to either the vices or the virtues of the tongue. I identified 149.
There are a total of 915 verses in Proverbs, which means that a little over 16% of Proverbs is devoted to speech alone, and that doesn’t include all of the verses that are more subtle in their references to the ways of the tongue.
Here are the fruits of my labors.
Proverbs 1:22 How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
Proverbs 3:34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
Proverbs 4:24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.
Proverbs 5:3-4 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
Proverbs 6:1-5 My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, have given a pledge for a stranger, if you have been snared with the words of your mouth, have been caught with the words of your mouth, do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor. Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids; deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:12-15 A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a perverse mouth, who winks with his eyes, who signal with his feet, who points with his fingers; who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, who spreads strife. Therefore his calamity will come suddenly, instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.
Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.
Proverbs 7:21 With her many persuasions she entices him; with her flattering lips she seduces him.
Proverbs 8:6-9 Listen, for I will speak noble things; and the opening of my lips will reveal right things. For my mouth will utter truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing crooked or perverted in them. They are all straightforward to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the eivl way and the perverted mouth, I hate.
Proverbs 9:7-8 He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves the wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you.
Proverbs 10:6 Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Proverbs 10:8 The wise of heart will receive commands, but a babbling fool will be ruined.
Proverbs 10:10-11 He who winks the eye causes trouble, and a babbling fool will be ruined. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Proverbs 10:13-14 On the lips of the discerning wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of the understanding. Wise men store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.
Proverbs 10:18-21 He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool. When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding.
Proverbs 10:31-32 The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, but the perverted tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.
Proverbs 11:9 With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
Proverbs 11:11-13 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down. He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals the matter.
Proverbs 12:6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright will deliver them.
Proverbs 12:13-14 An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape from trouble. A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.
Proverbs 12:17-19 He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment.
Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are his delight.
Proverbs 13:2-3 From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good, but the desire of the treacherous is violence. The one who guards his mouth preservers his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
Proverbs 14:3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will protect them.
Proverbs 14:5 A trustworthy witness will not lie, but a false witness utters lies.
Proverbs 14:23 In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 14:25 A truthful witness saves lives, but he who utters lies is treacherous.
Proverbs 15:1-2 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. the tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools sprouts folly.
Proverbs 15:4 A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 15:7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not so.
Proverbs 15:12 A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise.
Proverbs 15:14 The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly.
Proverbs 15:23 A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!
Proverbs 15:26 Evil plans are an abomination to the LORD, but pleasant words are pure.
Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Proverbs 16:1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
Proverbs 16:10 A divine decision is in the lips of the king; his mouth should not err in judgment.
Proverbs 16:13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and he who speaks right is loved.
Proverbs 16:21 The wise in heart will be called understanding, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Proverbs 16:23-24 The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:27-28 A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are like scorching fire. A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.
Proverbs 17:4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
Proverbs 17:7 Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, much less are lying lips to a prince.
Proverbs 17:9 He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.
Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.
Proverbs 17:20 He who has a crooked mind finds no good, and he who is perverted in his language falls into evil.
Proverbs 17:27-28 He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.
Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
Proverbs 18:6-8 A fool’s lips bring strife, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body.
Proverbs 18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.
Proverbs 18:20-21 With the fruit of man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; he will be satisfied with the product of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
Proverbs 19:5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who tells lies will not escape.
Proverbs 19:9 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who tells lies will perish.
Proverbs 19:22 What is desirable in a man is his kindness, and it is better to be a poor man than a liar.
Proverbs 19:28-29 A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice, and the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity. Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and blows for the backs of fools.
Proverbs 20:3 Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.
Proverbs 20:6 Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?
Proverbs 20:15 There is gold, and an abundance of jewels; but the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing.
Proverbs 20:17 Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.
Proverbs 20:19-20 He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip. He who curses his father or his mother, his lamp will go out in time of darkness.
Proverbs 20:25 It is a trap for a man to say rashly, “It is holy!” and after the vows to make inquiry.
Proverbs 21:6 The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.
Proverbs 21:28 A false witness will perish, but the man who listens to the truth will speak forever.
Proverbs 22:10-12 Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, even strife and dishonor will cease. He who loves purity of heart and whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend. The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, but He overthrows the words of the treacherous man.
Proverbs 22:14 The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; he who is cursed of the LORD will fall into it.
Proverbs 22:17-18 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips.
Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.
Proverbs 23:15-16 My son, if your heart is wise, my own heart also will be glad; and my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.
Proverbs 24:7 Wisdom is too exalted for a fool, he does not open his mouth in the gate.
Proverbs 24:28 Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.
Proverbs 25:8-10 Do not go out hastily to argue your case; otherwise, what will you do in the end, when your neighbor humiliates you? Argue your case with your neighbor, and do not reveal the secret of another, or he who hears it will reproach you, and the evil report about you will not pass away.
Proverbs 25:11-15 Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters. Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely. By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.
Proverbs 25:18 Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor.
Proverbs 25:23 The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance.
Proverbs 26:4-5 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:7 Like the legs which are useless to the lame, so is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Proverbs 26:9 Like a thorn which falls into the hand of a drunkard, so is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Proverbs 26:18-25 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows of death, so is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, “Was I not joking?” For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body. Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart. he who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart.
Proverbs 26:28 A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
Proverbs 27:2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
Proverbs 28:23 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue.
Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Proverbs 30:10 Do not slander a slave to his master, or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.
Proverbs 30:14 There is a kind of man whose teeth are like swords and his jaw teeth like knives, to devour the afflicted from the earth and the needy from among men.
Proverbs 30:32-33 If you have been foolish in exalting yourself or if you plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth. For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood; so the churning of anger produces strife.
Proverbs 31:8-9 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
Proverbs 31:26-29 She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying, “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.”