There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
As I sit here reading these words today I am very mindful of the fact that two of my closest friends have received the sword thrusts of rash words from someone that they love in the last couple of days. They have had the words of someone close to them pierce them through. And in many ways these words have pierced their heart. So painful were these words that they took refuge in their home on Sunday unable to even find comfort in the fellowship with other believers. To be clear, they were not hurt by anyone in the church but the words spoken to them the night before were by someone else and it left them reeling in pain as if a true sword had pierced their body. If a literal sword had pierced them we would find them in a hospital lying in bed having undergone surgery. These words had caused just as much damage even though the wounds are not visible to most except for a few trusted friends.
I once burned my hand pretty badly when I had a firecracker explode inches away from my hand. I quickly ran to my grandmothers house and she filled a bowl full of water and put ice in it. Then she took my arm and held my hand in the ice water. After a while my hand seemed to hurt from both the pain of the burn and the sting of the cold water. Therefore my grandmother did two things. She physically held my hand in the water and she spoke to me and told me what needed to be done. Nevertheless, I am pretty sure that I fought her continually on this. I remember thinking the whole time that I wished my hand would be healed as quickly as it had been burned. What happened in a brief moment would now take weeks to heal.
Isn't that similar to what verse nineteen is saying here. A lying tongue lasts for but a moment but what considerable damage it can do. Those types of words are like a sword thrust that enters quickly several times leaving the victim in immense pain. But God has given us a way to be healed of such things. In those moments we need the truth spoken to us and these truth filled words endure. Aren't you glad that truth persists. It needs too. If it did not then the wound would outlast the care. The hurt would endure longer than the prescription. That would not be good. Therefore,
God has said that though the wound from a lying tongue can happen quickly the truth can endure to provide not just help but healing.
But sometimes truth, like that bowl of ice cold water, can hurt just as much as the wound initially. In that moment we may find ourselves wanting to withdraw from the truth just as much as we do from the thing that hurt us just like I kept trying to pull my hand out of the water. In the Proverbs we are often encouraged to not pull away from truth even if it comes in the form of discipline, instruction, correction or rebuke. This is what several of the verses in this very chapter say as well. For example, "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid." (v.1)
I only have one memory of having my hand burned by a firecracker. Part of this is because not only did my mom and grandmother care for my wound that day but they also corrected me so as it would not happen again. And my dad and grandfather continually instructed me as to how to properly use these explosive objects.
My friends have been badly hurt by the words of another. In the coming days I pray that they will experience the tongue of the wise that brings healing. A lying tongue is but for a moment but the lips that speak truth endures forever. It is those words and those lips that will restore health to their wounded hearts.