“There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”
I have never been pierced with a sword but I have been cut open during surgery. While under anesthetic the surgeons made a twelve-inch incision from my chest bone downwards so that they could gain access to my abdomen to remove a large section of diseased colon. Thirty-five metal staples were used to close the wound. When I came round after the surgery the pain was indescribable.
Of the several tubes I found attached to my body, one was set up to allow me to self administer measured doses of morphine. This dulled but did not remove the pain. It was ten days before the staples were removed and I was discharged from hospital. Although the pain had reduced it took a while for it to fade completely. For three months the discomfort meant that I slept sitting up, while the scar remained sensitive for years.
Pain or Healing?
This proverb is a warning of the pain that words can cause. “Reckless words piece like a sword” says the NIV, “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” The truth is that words can hurt just like the cutting of a sword, or a surgeon’s scalpel. Pain of this nature does not go immediately; it lingers. It may fade, and time may indeed be a healer, but words can cause lasting damage. It may be years before the scars left by hurtful words cease to be sensitive.
Where words of healing are required then the challenge is to select such words with the utmost of care, and preferably under the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit. It is often the case that we mean to bring healing, but the words that we use merely intensify the pain. Be careful. Sometimes it is wiser not to speak at all.