We have had similar maxims before ( Proverbs 13:8 and Proverbs 18:21 , where see notes). He keepeth his mouth, who knows when to speak and when to be silent; and he keepeth his tongue, who says only what is to the purpose. We have all heard the proverb, "Speech is silver, silence is gold." One who thus takes heed of his words, keepeth his soul from troubles. The troubles ( angores, Vulgate) are such as these—remorse for the evil occasioned, distress of conscience, vexation and strife with offended neighbours, danger of liberty and life, and, above all, the anger of God, and retribution in the judgment.
The wise and the loving life
I. IT IS AN ARDENT ENTHUSIASTIC LIFE . ( Proverbs 21:21 .) Literally, he who hunts after justice and love will find life, righteousness, and honour. So in other figures—of hungering and thirsting, of digging eagerly for hid treasures, etc.—the earnest enthusiasm of the true life is depicted.
II. IT IS A LIFE OF PRESENT POSSESSION AND ENJOYMENT . So in the New Testament ( Romans 3:26 ; Galatians 3:21 ).
III. THE RESISTLESS POWER OF WISDOM . ( Proverbs 21:22 .) The like penetrative power to that which we ascribe to the subtlest forces of nature—heat, magnetism, etc.—is possessed, but in a higher degree, by the intelligence add the will of man. The barriers of time and space seem to fall before him who knows and him who loves. Let none rely on walls and fastnesses. What man's hands have raised man's hands can break to pieces. We are truly strong only by means of the arts and works at intelligence and love.
IV. THE SAFETY OF THE PRUDENT TONGUE . ( Proverbs 21:2 .9.) As one quaintly says, "God, as the Creator, has placed a double wail before the mouth—the teeth and lips, to show that we ought to use and guard the tongue with all care." "He that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he had need to he afraid of others' memory." "Discretion of speech is more than eloquence; and to speak agreeably with him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words or in good order" (Bacon).—J.