What does Proverbs 4:24 mean?
ESV: Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
NIV: Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
NASB: Rid yourself of a deceitful mouth And keep devious speech far from you.
CSB: Don't let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don't let your lips talk deviously.
NLT: Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.
KJV: Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
NKJV: Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you.
Verse Commentary:
As Jesus pointed out in Luke 6:45, there is a close connection between what is in the heart and what comes out of the mouth. After urging his son to guard his heart (Proverbs 4:23), Solomon tells him to put crooked speech and devious talk far from him. The term translated "crooked" here is the same as used in Proverbs 2:15. It carries the idea of someone who speaks in a manipulative or immoral manner. The same basic idea is repeated here, with a condemnation of speech which is "off-color," either in intent or in form.

Corrupt and foul talk betray an evil heart. Christians are commanded to put aside falsehood, angry words, corrupt talk, bitter words, slander, malice, and obscene talk (Ephesians 4:25–31; Colossians 3:8). The apostle James writes about the power of the tongue and says it is "set on fire by hell" (James 3:6), and he points out the incongruity of using the tongue to bless and curse (James 3:9–10). He writes in verse 10: "My brothers, these things ought not to be so."

A person may argue that words are just words, and therefore there is nothing wrong with any particular term or combination of syllables. However, that reasoning does not stand up to the indictment Scripture levels against corrupt and foul speech. Whether one feels the physical sounds matter or not, the intent of the heart matters a great deal—making it clear that controlling one's tongue is more than a mere suggestion.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 4:20–27 concludes the chapter with Solomon telling his son how to live. This follows earlier explanations of advice his own father, David, gave to him. Emphasis here is on the attitude of the heart, the focus of the eyes, and the direction of the feet. This begins with a pattern seen many other places in Proverbs: an encouragement to value godly wisdom.
Chapter Summary:
Common for the first nine chapters of Proverbs, Solomon urges his sons—possibly also other students—to listen to his words. He recalls his early years, when he heard some of these words from his father, David. Wisdom is upheld as the most beneficial thing a person can acquire in life. It brings honor and safety. In contrast, the wicked are perpetual wrongdoers whose goal is to lead others astray. They live for wickedness and violence, and they stumble in the darkness. Solomon urges his sons not to deviate from the path of godly wisdom, either ''to the right or to the left.''
Chapter Context:
The first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs focus on extolling the value of godly wisdom. In this chapter King Solomon continues to pass along this message to his son. His advice to his sons—possibly also meaning his students—in chapter 4 is similar to what he says in Proverbs 1:8–9; 2:1–6; 3:1–2, 21–26; 5:1–2; 6:20–22; 7:1–3, 24; and 8:22–36. The words of this chapter are partly taken from advice Solomon recalls hearing from his own father, David.
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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