Proverbs 21:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 21:23, NIV: Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.

Proverbs 21:23, ESV: Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 21:23, KJV: Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

Proverbs 21:23, NASB: One who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.

Proverbs 21:23, NLT: Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.

Proverbs 21:23, CSB: The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

What does Proverbs 21:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Solomon lived in an era without the internet, recording devices, or mass communications. And yet, he still recognized the danger of uncontrolled speech. Some people talk too much, to their own detriment. The same Hebrew word is translated into English as "keep" and "guard." The person who guards his mouth and his tongue spares himself a lot of trouble. Lying, gossip, slander, and cursing have ruined many who would have stayed out of trouble if they had kept their mouths shut. In an era where every word can be recorded, broadcast, and criticized, Solomon's counsel is as appropriate today as when he gave it.

Of course, this advice is not easy to apply. The apostle James writes, "If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man" (James 3:2). He describes the tongue as a "a small member, yet it boasts of great things" (James 3:5), "a fire, a world of unrighteousness" (James 3:6), and "a restless evil" (James 3:8). He stresses how hard it is to control the tongue.