Proverbs 30:32

ESV If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.
NIV If you play the fool and exalt yourself, or if you plan evil, clap your hand over your mouth!
NASB If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.
CSB If you have been foolish by exalting yourself or if you've been scheming, put your hand over your mouth.
NLT If you have been a fool by being proud or plotting evil, cover your mouth in shame.
KJV If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

What does Proverbs 30:32 mean?

Prior verses in the book of Proverbs noted the dangers of unwise, ungodly, or uncontrolled speech (Proverbs 4:24; 14:3; 16:27). The text connects true wisdom with an appreciation for God's truth (Proverbs 1:7, 22). Ignoring that comes with negative consequences (Proverbs 3:5–6; 8:33–36). Speaking in sinful or unwise ways leads to quarrels, resentment, retaliation, and other kinds of trouble. The following verse speaks of those exact results (Proverbs 30:33).

Agur (Proverbs 30:1) includes the idea of arrogance and bragging in his warning. In this case, the Hebrew word used is a verb: the reference is to someone who has been "acting like a fool" or "being foolish." It is spiritually immature to strut around boasting about oneself. It is also foolish—ungodly and unwise—to think up evil schemes.

Agur's suggestion for someone who realizes they've been acting in this way is both abrupt and simple: do what it takes and do it quickly. In literal terms, to clamp your own mouth shut with your hand. In the ancient world, to "put your hand over your mouth" was something like the modern English expression "shut up." This appears in certain conversations in the book of Job (Job 21:5; 40:4).

That physical act is not, itself, the ultimate cure for foolish talk. The point is that unwise speech is dangerous enough that a person should make great effort to avoid it. Joseph's choice to run from a temptress, leaving a piece of clothing behind (Genesis 39:12), typifies taking strong measures to avoid sin (Matthew 18:7–9).
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