Proverbs 18:6

ESV A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.
NIV The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.
NASB A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth invites beatings.
CSB A fool's lips lead to strife, and his mouth provokes a beating.
NLT Fools’ words get them into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating.
KJV A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

What does Proverbs 18:6 mean?

When warning someone about speaking offensive, challenging insults, a modern English expression is often used: "don't let your mouth write checks your body can't cash." This proverb presents the same basic idea. A fool who can't control their impulsive words (Proverbs 10:19; 15:1–4) is liable to provoke a beating. That doesn't justify the person who retaliates (Romans 12:19). Yet common sense says that it's better to be quiet and avoid a conflict than to make a bad situation worse with loose lips (Proverbs 17:14, 28). Many fist-fights—or worse—have been triggered by thoughtless, unnecessary verbal abuse.

The apostle James warned that "the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness…a restless evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:6, 8). In contrast, a wise man knows how to control his tongue and diffuse a potentially explosive situation. The apostle Peter wisely counseled believers to "put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander" (1 Peter 2:1).

This proverb deals mostly with the immediate consequences of brash talk. The following piece of wisdom notes that foolishness—in the form of uncontrolled speech—can lead to long-term or even eternal consequences (Proverbs 18:7).
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