What does Proverbs 10:20 mean?
ESV: The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.
NIV: The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
NASB: The tongue of the righteous is like choice silver, The heart of the wicked is worth little.
CSB: The tongue of the righteous is pure silver; the heart of the wicked is of little value.
NLT: The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless.
KJV: The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.
NKJV: The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little.
Verse Commentary:
There is a contrast between the words of a person pursuing godliness versus those of a person seeking selfish interests.

The righteous person's words are extremely valuable. In prior passages, Solomon depicted wisdom as a woman who claimed this same value for her teachings (Proverbs 8:18–21). Wise words point the way to life, both eternal life and daily life. They encourage, comfort, and provide excellent counsel. Out of the good treasure of his heart the righteous person produces good (Luke 6:45). His lips speak God's words that "are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6). The righteous person's words are true and trustworthy, like God's Word (John 17:17).

The heart of the wicked is of no eternal worth. It produces evil (Luke 6:45). The wicked person curses, blasphemes, lies, slanders, defames, gossips, and destroys. His words tear down, whereas the words of the righteous person build others up. Endless chatter of evil words (Proverbs 10:19) contrasts sharply with the wisely chosen words of the righteous person.

The following verse uses similar imagery: referring to the benefits of godly wisdom as spoken by wise people (Proverbs 10:21).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 10:11–32 contrasts the righteous and the wicked, focusing on their different speech patterns, their different lifestyles, their different attitudes, and their different destinies. Verses 21 through 27 are especially focused on the different results which can be expected from pursuing godliness, versus pursuing sin.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter begins 375 "proverbs," which are general-case lessons or observations. These wise remarks continue the discussion of wisdom and wickedness begun in chapters 1—9. Most of the verses in chapter 10 contain a sharp contrast, with the conjunction "but" separating the lines. Often, the subject changes from verse to verse. The contrasting subjects include sons, treasure, work ethic, reputation, relationships, success, and speech.
Chapter Context:
In Proverbs 7—9 Solomon contrasts wisdom and wickedness in the symbolic persons of Lady Wisdom and Woman Folly. He calls upon his sons, or students, to choose wisdom, and he points out the benefits of choosing wisdom and the disastrous results of choosing wickedness. Chapter 10 presents vivid contrasts between wisdom and wickedness in many of life's settings. These comparisons continue into chapter 11.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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