What does Proverbs 13:3 mean?
ESV: Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
NIV: Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
NASB: One who guards his mouth protects his life; One who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
CSB: The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.
NLT: Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.
KJV: He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
NKJV: He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
Verse Commentary:
Few things are more difficult, yet more important, than learning how to control one's words. Doing so can keep a person out of trouble and may even save his life. This is a repeated lesson of the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 10:8, 14; 12:18).

Those who threaten or revile other people open themselves to revenge and backlash. In modern English, a common description for those who talk too much is that they have "loose lips." That echoes the imagery given here by Solomon. The person who speaks without thinking, or without control, may make rash promises that he does not keep. He may insult others or lie or tell secrets or offer unsound advice. He may gossip or criticize others unjustly. His careless, harsh language will rebound to harm him.

Another English phrase related to these sentiments is a person who must "eat his words." This applies when someone's statements have come back to accuse him or condemn him. Knowing this is possible is yet another reason to be sure that any words we speak are "edible," so to speak (Proverbs 12:2). It is wise to pray as David did: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 13:1–3 once again addresses the subject of speech. Solomon contrasts wise talk with foolish talk. He insists that it is prudent to take good advice but reckless to reject it. Also, it is desirable to be careful about what one says, and foolish to blabber.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter of Proverbs continues Solomon's wise sayings. He counsels his readers to be sensible and hardworking, as well as honest. This allows a person to be content with what they have, to enjoy life, and to bless their descendants. Laziness leads to trouble and ruin, as does a lack of discipline.
Chapter Context:
Starting in chapter 10, the book of Proverbs records a long series of wise sayings from Solomon. These continue for several chapters. Through chapter 15, a major focus is on issues such as godly living, mostly given in contrast with examples of ungodliness. This chapter emphasizes themes such as work ethic, honesty, and discipline.
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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