A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. ~ Proverbs 15:1
God used many people to convey his teachings to us in the bible. One of these men was Solomon, the third king of Israel. Solomon was probably most noted for his great wisdom and his great architectural projects. But it was also Solomon whom God made the chief author of the book of Proverbs. It is in this book that Solomon says, “A soft answer turns wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”
Essentially, this verse tells us to keep our calm when dealt a wound. By responding in anger to any such blow, we will be exposing even more harsh words and injuries to ourselves. However, if we respond in calm to these angry words, we can also calm our oppressors. The reasons for this we will observe in the following.
If we choose to follow this advice, we will find ourselves with many more friends and allies than if we choose to shout back at our tormentors. People will think highly of us, because self-control is one of the most admirable traits in a person. And instead of fighting back and offering our enemies more chances to hurt us, with a few gentle words we can settle the argument and prevent any further dispute.
If, on the other hand, we don’t follow this wisdom, we would be living a very miserable life with few friends or potential allies. When we have a reputation as an angry and brash arguer, we can’t expect others to trust or respect us very much. And in continuously arguing with our enemies, we only weaken our relationship more with them.
Likewise, when we quarrel with family, we can settle the dispute much quicker with kind, soothing words than with loud and hurtful arguments.
Aesop’s fable, “The Bear and the Bees”, can be a witness to this verse. One day, the bear was roaming the forest in search of food. He came upon a hornet nest, and curiously began to probe around it. He was still in the midst of this when one of the swarm returned home. The hornet guessed the purpose of the bear’s action, promptly stung him, and flew inside the nest. The bear, outraged and furious at this injury, flew at the nest to destroy it. This simultaneously brought out the entire swarm, and the bear was forced to run for his life, only barely escaping by jumping in a pool.
We cannot close this essay, without an acknowledgment of the accomplished mathematician and physicist, Blaise Pascal, who said, “Kind words don’t cost much. Yet they accomplish much.”
After observing all these points, we can see that this advice of God as penned by Solomon should be very closely followed.