Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Proverbs 15:1-15 (ESV)
15 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. 3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. 4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. 5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent. 6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked. 7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools. 8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. 9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves him who pursues righteousness. 10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die. 11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man! 12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise. 13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. 14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. 15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
We live in a world where the harshest and loudest voices get the most attention. Verses 1 -2, 4, 7, 12, & 14 show that God is not fooled, and if we speak like this, we will pay the price. But gentle and considerate speech will reap godly rewards. Verse 8 points out that our offerings cannot cover up our wicked behaviors — we can’t ‘pay off God’ for our sins! Verse 11 teaches that God can see into hell, so he can also see into our hearts. Finally, verse 13 & 15 commend us to have a positive, cheerful attitude toward others. The idea is that our lives will always be filled with challenges and pain. But having a cheerful disposition in the midst of these things draws others near us, and helps us to face the toils of this life. Consider what a difference it makes, when you are doing a difficult physical task in lousy weather, to have an upbeat, cheerful leader who refuses to complain, and says “let’s do this!” His or her lead pulls you up, and you rise to the occasion.