What does Proverbs 17:27 mean?
ESV: Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
NIV: The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
NASB: One who withholds his words has knowledge, And one who has a cool spirit is a person of understanding.
CSB: The one who has knowledge restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a person of understanding.
NLT: A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.
KJV: He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
NKJV: He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
Verse Commentary:
Once again, Scripture applauds the person who knows how to control his tongue. This is a two-part message that implies more than just someone who literally "keeps his mouth shut." Rather, this is a person who chooses not to speak words without carefully considering them (Proverbs 15:2; 16:23–24). A "cool spirit" is the opposite of being hot-tempered (Proverbs 15:18; Titus 1:7). Such a person knows when to mind their speech and when to speak their mind (Proverbs 15:23).

It has been observed that God has given each of us two ears but only one mouth. Therefore, as the saying goes, we should do twice as much listening as talking. James writes, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (James 1:19). This is not easy, and many people struggle with controlling their words (James 3:2–5). Uncontrolled speech is such a common problem that even foolish people can seem wise just by saying nothing (Proverbs 17:28)!

Two of Jesus' disciples, James and John, had to learn to control their speech and discipline their spirit. They were incensed at residents of a Samaritan village; these people would not initially welcome Jesus. So, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" (Luke 9:54). Jesus, on the other hand, demonstrated a calm spirit. He rebuked James and John, and then He and His disciples went elsewhere (Luke 9:55–56).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 17:22–28 continues Solomon's wise sayings. He commends a joyful heart, a calm spirit, and controlled speech, but he points out the bad effects of sins of negativity, bribery, imposing fines on righteous people, and opposing the righteous.
Chapter Summary:
This portion of Solomon's wise sayings involves several recurring themes. Among these are the importance of controlling one's words: hasty or spiteful language can do great harm. He also notes how wisdom and foolishness tend to be self-perpetuating. Wise people seek wisdom, foolish people seem immune to it. Other important topics are the impact of ungodly children on a family and the value of integrity and common sense.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 10 began a lengthy series of Solomon's statements of wisdom. This chapter continues by noting concepts such as honesty, controlled speech, and family harmony. The list continues into chapter 22.
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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