Proverbs 17:27

ESV Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
NIV The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
NASB One who withholds his words has knowledge, And one who has a cool spirit is a person of understanding.
CSB The one who has knowledge restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a person of understanding.
NLT A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.
KJV He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.

What does Proverbs 17:27 mean?

Once again, Scripture applauds the person who knows how to control his tongue. This is a two-part message that implies more than just someone who literally "keeps his mouth shut." Rather, this is a person who chooses not to speak words without carefully considering them (Proverbs 15:2; 16:23–24). A "cool spirit" is the opposite of being hot-tempered (Proverbs 15:18; Titus 1:7). Such a person knows when to mind their speech and when to speak their mind (Proverbs 15:23).

It has been observed that God has given each of us two ears but only one mouth. Therefore, as the saying goes, we should do twice as much listening as talking. James writes, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (James 1:19). This is not easy, and many people struggle with controlling their words (James 3:2–5). Uncontrolled speech is such a common problem that even foolish people can seem wise just by saying nothing (Proverbs 17:28)!

Two of Jesus' disciples, James and John, had to learn to control their speech and discipline their spirit. They were incensed at residents of a Samaritan village; these people would not initially welcome Jesus. So, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" (Luke 9:54). Jesus, on the other hand, demonstrated a calm spirit. He rebuked James and John, and then He and His disciples went elsewhere (Luke 9:55–56).
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