Proverbs 13:3

ESV Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
NIV Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
NASB One who guards his mouth protects his life; One who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
CSB The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.
NLT Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.
KJV He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.

What does Proverbs 13:3 mean?

Few things are more difficult, yet more important, than learning how to control one's words. Doing so can keep a person out of trouble and may even save his life. This is a repeated lesson of the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 10:8, 14; 12:18).

Those who threaten or revile other people open themselves to revenge and backlash. In modern English, a common description for those who talk too much is that they have "loose lips." That echoes the imagery given here by Solomon. The person who speaks without thinking, or without control, may make rash promises that he does not keep. He may insult others or lie or tell secrets or offer unsound advice. He may gossip or criticize others unjustly. His careless, harsh language will rebound to harm him.

Another English phrase related to these sentiments is a person who must "eat his words." This applies when someone's statements have come back to accuse him or condemn him. Knowing this is possible is yet another reason to be sure that any words we speak are "edible," so to speak (Proverbs 12:2). It is wise to pray as David did: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).
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