Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
Proverbs 15:1. A soft answer, &c. — A mild, submissive, and yielding answer to him who severely chides, or reproves, turns away wrath — And prevents the further progress of it. The word מענה, here rendered answer, however, signifies as well what is first said, as the reply to it, and may not improperly be translated speech, or discourse. But grievous words stir up strife — But sharp, contemptuous, and insolent replies, or speeches, incense it the more, and raise a passion where there was none before, and perhaps cause it to flame forth into fury. Melancthon, in his short lectures upon this book, commends this lesson very much to his scholars, considering it as a general precept for the preservation of peace, and avoiding unnecessary contentions, which commonly arise from pride, ambition, emulation, and wrath, which excite men either to give ill words, or to return worse to those that are given them; endeavouring to overcome by sharpness and bitterness, not by lenity and moderation. Solomon, he says, meant by this caution, that we should not think it enough not to begin strife and contention; but that, if others begin it, we should not continue it by rough answers, but endeavour to make an end of it presently, by softening the matter, and should yield much for the sake of tranquillity; and he thinks it is a precept of the same nature with that of Pythagoras; Stir not up fire with a sword: see Bishop Patrick.

15:1 A right cause will be better pleaded with meekness than with passion. Nothing stirs up anger like grievous words. 2. He that has knowledge, is to use it aright, for the good of others.Reproach - The word so rendered has this sense in the Targum of Leviticus 20:17. Its more usual meaning is "mercy," "piety;" hence, some have attached to the word rendered "sin" the sense of "sin-offering," and so get the maxim "piety is an atonement for the people." CHAPTER 15

Pr 15:1-33.

1. soft—tender or gentle.

turneth … wrath—from any one.

stir up—as a smouldering fire is excited. A soft, mild or gentle, answer, which may imply a foregoing charge or accusation, although the word is and may be rendered speech or discourse, turneth away wrath from the speaker.

Grievous words, fierce and vexatious replies or speeches, stir up anger; kindle it, and cause it to flame forth.

A soft answer turneth away wrath,.... Mild words, gentle expressions, delivered with kindness and tenderness, humility and submission; these will work upon a man's passions, weaken his resentments, and break and scatter the storm of wrath raised in his breast, just breaking forth in a very boisterous and blustering manner; so high winds are sometimes laid by soft showers. Thus the Ephraimites were pacified by Gideon's mild answer; and David by Abigail's very submissive and respectful address, Judges 8:1;

but grievous words stir up anger; such as are rough and menacing, scornful and sneering, reproachful and reviling, proud, haughty, and overbearing; like those of Jephthah to the Ephraimites; and of the Ephraimites to the Gileadites; and of Nabal to David's servants, concerning him; and of Rehoboam, who answered the people roughly: in all which instances anger was stirred up, and either were or like to have been attended with bad consequences, Judges 12:1. Or a "word" causing, or rather expressing, "grief" (r); upbraiding others with being the cause of grief to them.

(r) "verbum vel sermo doloris", Montanus, Vatablus, Michaelis; vid. Gussetius, p. 177.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
1. grievous words] More exactly, a grievous word, R.V.

Verse 1. - A soft answer turneth away wrath. Two things are here to be observed: an answer should be given - the injured person should not wrap himself in sullen silence; and that answer should be gentle and conciliatory. This is tersely put in a mediaeval rhyme -

"Frangitur ira gravis
Quando est respensio suavis."

"Anger, however great,
Is checked by answer sweet."
Septuagint, "A submissive (ὑποπίπτουσα) answer averteth wrath." Thus Abigail quelled the excessive anger of David by her judicious submission (1 Samuel 25:24, etc.). But grievous words stir up anger. A word that causes vexation makes anger rise the higher.

Ὁργῆς ματαίας εἰσὶν αἰτιοι λόγοι.

"Of empty anger words are oft the cause." Proverbs 15:11 A soft answer turneth away wrath,

   And a bitter word stirreth up anger.

In the second line, the common word for anger (אף, from the breathing with the nostrils, Proverbs 14:17) is purposely placed, but in the first, that which denotes anger in the highest degree (חמה from יחם, cogn. חמם, Arab. hamiya, to glow, like שׁנה from ישׁן): a mild, gentle word turns away the heat of anger (excandescentiam), puts it back, cf. Proverbs 25:15. The Dagesh in רּך follows the rule of the דחיק, i.e., of the close connection of a word terminating with the accented eh, aah, ah with the following word (Michlol 63b). The same is the meaning of the Latin proverb:

Frangitur ira gravis

Quando est responsio suavis.

The דבר־עצב produces the contrary effect. This expression does not mean an angry word (Ewald), for עצב is not to be compared with the Arab. ghaḍab, anger (Umbreit), but with Arab. 'aḍb, cutting, wounding, paining (Hitzig), so that דבר מעציב is meant in the sense of Psalm 78:40 : a word which causes pain (lxx λυπηρός, Theod. πονικός), not after the meaning, a word provoking to anger (Gesenius), but certainly after its effect, for a wounding word "makes anger arise." As one says of anger שׁב, "it turns itself" (e.g., Isaiah 9:11), so, on the other hand, עלה, "it rises up," Ecclesiastes 10:4. The lxx has a third line, ὀργὴ ἀπόλλυσι καὶ φρονίμους, which the Syr. forms into a distich by the repetition of Proverbs 14:32, the untenableness of which is at once seen.

Proverbs 15:1 Interlinear
Proverbs 15:1 Parallel Texts

Proverbs 15:1 NIV
Proverbs 15:1 NLT
Proverbs 15:1 ESV
Proverbs 15:1 NASB
Proverbs 15:1 KJV

Proverbs 15:1 Bible Apps
Proverbs 15:1 Parallel
Proverbs 15:1 Biblia Paralela
Proverbs 15:1 Chinese Bible
Proverbs 15:1 French Bible
Proverbs 15:1 German Bible

Bible Hub

Proverbs 14:35
Top of Page
Top of Page