“Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.”
The Old Days
There used to be a day, when I was young, that foul language was not permitted in polite company. I remember going to see a movie with my parents, and right in the middle of the film we got up and left the theater. My parents were not going to sit through a bunch of “cuss’n.”
Back in the old days, before MTV and Southpark, it was not unheard of to punish a child who used “perverse” language. Now, it is not uncommon to hear small children curse like sailors. It used to be acceptable to wash a child’s mouth out with soap; but not anymore. Today’s children, not to mention the average TV show or movie, are accustomed to vulgarity.
But this verse is not really addressing the use of four, six, or ten-letter words. Solomon is speaking here of something a little different. Oh, I’m sure this proverb could also be applied to the folly of foul language; but there is more to this verse than that.
If we take a look at the word “froward” in this verse, it means to be “distorted, or crooked” (Strong’s H6143). More than just advising his children to watch their language, Solomon was telling them that a wise man will speak straight, and not twist words to his own advantage.
If we were to dig down below the surface of this verse, I believe at the foundation we would find the command, “Thou shalt not lie.” And what is a distortion of the truth, but a lie?
It is so easy to lie when we get into trouble. It is also tempting to distort the truth (which is lying) for our own benefit. However, a wise man is one who understands there will always be consequences for lying; maybe not in this life, but eternity.
Several years ago there was a movie called Flywheel. In a nutshell it was about a used car salesman who realized God was not pleased with his gimmicks and half-truths. When he got his heart right, he put the “froward mouth” and “perverse lips far from [him].” In contrast he became a man of integrity whom people could trust.
You may not be a crooked used car salesman, but when was the last time you bent the truth? Was it when you tried to get out of that speeding ticket? Was it when you said that lunch was tax-deductible, when it wasn’t? Was it when you were late, but the right excuse would let you get by?
A wise man understands that there will come a day of reckoning. He understands that men will have to give an account for every idle word in the day of judgment (Matt. 12:36).
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. – James 1:26 NIV