Proverbs 10:20 “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.”

Idioms can be confusing. Context is always important. If I were to call a Republican or a Democrat “silver-tongued” you might not know what I meant unless you heard the tone of my voice and saw my facial expression. But if I said he or she was a silver-tongued politician, you might conclude the person was perhaps full of empty promises, dishonorable or a liar. At best you could conclude that they were articulate and convincing.

As my wife prepares to teach an English class in northern India, it is important to understand that some words are not to be taken literally. Many ESL (English as a Second Language) students misunderstand idiomatic expressions. They may translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. If I said someone was a silver-tongued devil it might be helpful for understanding, but still falls short. A silver-tongued devil can be a person who is a little naughty or a bit of a huckster in a harmless way. But don’t stop here.

In the context of this Proverb having a silver tongue is clearly a good thing. It means that the words of the righteous person have value. Not just regular plated tarnished silver value, but deep solid, pure, choice value. The contrast is the heart of the wicked. Their central being is without love and you can be assured that what they say is not silver. Where do silver tongue words come from?

Jesus often used pictures and contrasts to illustrate truth. In Luke 6:43-45 he said, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Do you want to have words that are valued by others? Then examine your heart.  What is abundant in your heart? What your heart treasures your mouth will speak.