The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

I have often remarked that in the Gospel of John, there is little room for grey areas. The contrast between belief and unbelief, elect and reprobate, faithful and faithless, light and darkness, etc. is strikingly clear.  Similarly in Proverbs, the contrast between righteousness and wickedness is sharp. This morning in this contrasting passage, we have the obvious one between the righteous and the wicked. But it goes a step beyond this—the contrast is between the heart of the righteous and the mouth of the wicked.

A problem or question has apparently been posed, and the heart of the righteous thinks about how to answer. Righteousness does not blurt out. The word for “ponders” can mean growl or mutter, or meditate, or imagine. I get the picture of a wise man working through a difficult problem, talking to himself as he goes. His heart is hot, a wisdom forge, and he doesn’t bring out his words until they are ready to strike with a purpose. But the mouth of the wicked is filled up and ready to go immediately. The mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. If you want an answer now, he has an answer for you now. The quality is poor, but delivery is prompt.

With the righteous…

…there is a solid consistency that runs from the heart through the mouth, and then to the outside world. His well is not as polluted as the shallow evil well, but it may take a moment to hoist the water to the surface. With the wicked, the answer is in his mouth already and may bear no relationship to what he really believes or, for that matter, any relationship to how things are out in the world. The righteous are slower to speak, but what he says comes from the heart, and what he says has been “pondered over.” He shares this with you, not because it was his turn to talk, not because of uncomfortable silence, but rather because he believes that he has a word for you in season.