What does Proverbs 16:24 mean?
ESV: Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
NIV: Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
NASB: Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
CSB: Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body.
NLT: Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
KJV: Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Verse Commentary:
Two of the preceding proverbs pointed out the value of gracious speech (Proverbs 16:21, 23). This verse repeats a root word for "sweetness" used in verse 21. In this context, these are also called "gracious words," meaning they are not only truthful, but they are also spoken with tact and caution (Proverbs 15:1; Colossians 4:6). The right message, delivered in the right way, is a great blessing to others (Proverbs 15:23). Such advice helps the spirit (Proverbs 3:21–22), and helps the body, not the least by guiding a person away from the consequences of sin (Proverbs 11:19; 14:12).

As Solomon wrote these words, perhaps he remembered what his father David testified in Psalm 19:9–10: "The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb." In Psalm 119:103 the psalmist exclaims, "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Words that believers speak can soothe, comfort, guide, and encourage others to know the Lord and obey His commands. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 the apostle Paul exhorts believers to "encourage one another and build one another up." Only gracious, delightful words can accomplish this task.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 16:16–26 focuses on righteousness, pride, humility, faith, speaking, and industrious labor. Again, we see the contrast between the upright and fools, as well as between diligence and laziness. Many of these proverbs come in a two-sentence style, where each presents the same idea from different directions of thought.
Chapter Summary:
This part of Solomon's proverbs emphasizes human motives, self-control, and common sense. Many of these proverbs are arranged in a two-part style. The first and second half of these statements make the same basic point, but from opposite perspectives. Notable verses are verses 9 and 33, speaking of God's sovereignty, and verse 18, a famous warning about arrogance. Also often cited is verse 25, which repeats Proverbs 14:12 and encourages self-reflection.
Chapter Context:
A lengthy list of Solomon's wise sayings began in chapter 10. Chapter 16 begins a section mostly composed of comparisons and completions. It extends to Proverbs 22:16. Man's thoughts, speech, motives, and conduct are examined in this chapter. The chapter also addresses pride, evil, and injustice.
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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