Proverbs 13:2 ESV
From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good, but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.
We talk a lot. We speak to friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, ourselves, nobody in particular, and most importantly, God. We speak, and most of the time we pay little respect to the power we wield with out tongues. If the tongue can set a great fire and put it out, if the tongue can bring devastation and prosperity both, if the tongue can sing high praise to God and merit His eternal wrath, the tongue cannot be a tool of small import (James 3:5; Proverbs 12:18, 25:15; Psalm 28:7). Indeed, did not God make the world by His almighty words (Genesis 1)?
The verse at hand speaks of two particular facets of the tongue’s use: the blessing God grants to the righteous by his speech and the end to which the traitor will turn his thoughts.
The bare-bones practical application of the first portion of the verse is simple enough: God uses the wise speech of the righteous, in conjunction with their actions, to bring His blessings upon them (Deuteronomy 28:11; 1 Kings 8).
Furthermore, God blesses those who keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 28:1-2; Psalm 24:5). With His people God has made a covenant, a covenant of obligations, blessings, and curses (Deuteronomy 28; Genesis 15). The faithful man, who follows the Lord with his heart, mind, soul, and strength, who therefore loves his neighbor as himself, receives the full benefit of this covenant (Matthew 22:36-40). No man, of course, fully fulfils those criteria save Christ; therefore, God gives His blessing to those to whom He has given faith in Him (Romans 3:9-10; Hebrew 11:1-2). Whether that goodness is material, God alone determines, being the potter to our clay, but goodness, of the soul and the spirit, is assured (Jeremiah 18:5-6). God grants to His people blessings through His spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, blessings greater than any wealth or riches ever could be for their everlasting beauty (Galatians 5:22-23; Matthew 6:19-20).
The power of the tongue is a vital component in following the good word of God. As the previous chapter states, by the tongue God brings healing; furthermore, to the man of righteous lips God grants eternal life (Proverbs 12:18-19). Further passages concerning righteous speech abound, from James 3:9 to Psalm 19:14.
In light of these high standards and our sinfulness, we must recognize that we will all use words for evil. The second part of the verse here should approach our thoughts: the treacherous desire violence. This warning seems initially disconnected, until we recognize that we are all traitors. We owe an allegiance without deviation or exception to the God who created us (Genesis 1; Jeremiah 18:5-6). Every instant of sin is a betrayal of that sacred duty, a betrayal ultimate and worthy of eternal damnation. Furthermore, for those who have been called by Him to serve Him, any sin is a violation of the covenant He has established, a spurning of His mercy and grace. The work of God, which cleanses us of sinful desires and raises us closer to His glory, will not be complete in us on this earth, and therefore we must all admit that we desire to sin (Psalms 119:36). Our desire for sin is a desire for violence, for a violation of the law of God.
Of course, this portion of the proverb, like the last, contains a nugget of practical wisdom. A man characterized by treachery is a man who desires violence. Even if the violence he desires is not physical, his actions and thoughts will turn to strife of some sort, whether it be verbal, social, or sanguine.
What is the ultimate upshot of all this? We’ve established in impossibly high standard, reminded ourselves that we’re not going to live up to it, and gotten a summary of exactly what the consequences of our vice will be. The good news is this: Jesus Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Our service to Him is a service predicated on this glorious fact, on an abounding gratitude for His mercy, that He took upon Himself our sins and granted us His righteousness (Hebrews 9:11-28; James 2:14-26). We must therefore strive to use our tongues to glorify Him; we must strive with every word we say to be consonant to the music of the angels who cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.