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Wednesday, July 2nd

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How to extinguish the flames of bitter, harsh words

Today's Daily Verse is found in Proverbs 15.1

" A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."        - New Living Translation

What are "grievous" words?

Words that have the wrong "tone of voice" create deep splits in relationships...

Imagine the following grievous words and the tone they set -

  • brutal words
  • cruel words
  • searing words
  • biting words
  • crushing words
  • unbearable words
  • hostile words
  • overwhelming words

Instead of soft words, friendly words, understanding words, supporting words, calm words, gentle words, easy words, peaceful words...

The miracle is available for anyone who uses it...

  • A "soft answer" is the "water" to extinguish grievous words. 
  • Grievous words are like gasoline that feeds the "anger" flame...

"Soft words" examples in the Bible...

Jacob preparing to meet his brother Esau

Genesis 32 and 33 A remarkable and thoughtful approach to meeting his brother and his efforts to avoid being killed...

Genesis 33.8 "Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”

“To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said.

9 But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”

10 “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. 11 Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.

Aaron with Moses

Leviticus 10.16-20 "Then Moses searched everywhere for the goat of the sin offering and discovered that it had been burned! He was very angry about this with Eleazar and Ithamar, the remaining sons of Aaron. 17 “Why haven’t you eaten the sin offering in the sanctuary, since it is most holy, and God has given it to you to take away the iniquity and guilt of the people, to make atonement for them before the Lord?” he demanded. 18 “Since its blood was not taken inside the sanctuary, you should certainly have eaten it there, as I ordered you.” 19 But Aaron interceded with Moses. “They offered their sin offering and burnt offering before the Lord,” he said, “but if I had eaten the sin offering on such a day as this, would it have pleased the Lord?” 20 And when Moses heard that, he was satisfied.

Gideon and the men of Ephraim...

Judges 8.1-3

And the men of Ephraim said to Gideon, Why have you treated us like this, not calling us when you went to fight with Midian? And they quarreled with him furiously.

2 And he said to them, What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of [your big tribe of] Ephraim better than the vintage of [my little clan of] Abiezer?

3 God has given into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb, and what was I able to do in comparison with you? Then their anger toward him was abated when he had said that.

David with Saul

1 Samuel 24.9-21 "And David said to Saul, Why do you listen to the words of men who say, David seeks to do you harm?

10 Behold, your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hands in the cave. Some told me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, I will not put forth my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.

11 See, my father, see the skirt of your robe in my hand! Since I cut off the skirt of your robe and did not kill you, you know and see that there is no evil or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, yet you hunt my life to take it.

12 May the Lord judge between me and you, and may the Lord avenge me upon you, but my hand shall not be upon you.

13 As the proverb of the ancients says, Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness; but my hand shall not be against you.

14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog? After a flea?

15 May the Lord be judge and judge between me and you, and see and plead my cause, and deliver me out of your hands.

16 When David had said this to Saul, Saul said, Is this your voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice and wept.

17 He said to David, You are more upright in God’s eyes than I, for you have repaid me good, but I have rewarded you evil.

18 You have declared today how you have dealt well with me; for when the Lord gave me into your hand, you did not kill me.

19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away unharmed? Therefore may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done for me this day.

20 And now, behold, I well know that you shall surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hands.

21 Swear now therefore to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house."

Abigail Intercedes for Nabal

1 Samuel 25.23-32 "When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. 25 I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests. But I never even saw the young men you sent.

26 “Now, my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies and those who try to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is. 27 And here is a present that I, your servant, have brought to you and your young men. 28 Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. The Lord will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the Lord’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life.

29 “Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling! 30 When the Lord has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel, 31 don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!”

32 David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today!

"Grievous words" examples in the Bible...

The Ephraimites chastised Jephthah as they had Gideon. Yet now they stubbornly refused to apologize. Their pride resulted in civil war. The interesting way the Ephraimites are distinguished is by their mispronunciation


Judges 12.1-6 "Then the people of Ephraim mobilized an army and crossed over the Jordan River to Zaphon. They sent this message to Jephthah: “Why didn’t you call for us to help you fight against the Ammonites? We are going to burn down your house with you in it!”

2 Jephthah replied, “I summoned you at the beginning of the dispute, but you refused to come! You failed to help us in our struggle against Ammon. 3 So when I realized you weren’t coming, I risked my life and went to battle without you, and the Lord gave me victory over the Ammonites. So why have you now come to fight me?”

4 The people of Ephraim responded, “You men of Gilead are nothing more than fugitives from Ephraim and Manasseh.” So Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and attacked the men of Ephraim and defeated them.

5 Jephthah captured the shallow crossings of the Jordan River, and whenever a fugitive from Ephraim tried to go back across, the men of Gilead would challenge him. “Are you a member of the tribe of Ephraim?” they would ask. If the man said, “No, I’m not,” 6 they would tell him to say “Shibboleth.” If he was from Ephraim, he would say “Sibboleth,” because people from Ephraim cannot pronounce the word correctly. Then they would take him and kill him at the shallow crossings of the Jordan. In all, 42,000 Ephraimites were killed at that time.


1 Samuel 20.30-34 "Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. “You stupid son of a whore!” he swore at him. “Do you think I don’t know that you want him to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother? 31 As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!”

32 “But why should he be put to death?” Jonathan asked his father. “What has he done?” 33 Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David.

34 Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat on that second day of the festival, for he was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David.


1 Samuel 25.10-12 " “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. 11 Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?”

12 So David’s young men returned and told him what Nabal had said.


1 Kings 12.12-15 "Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered. 13 But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors 14 and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

15 So the king paid no attention to the people. This turn of events was the will of the Lord, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh.

The Apostles

Acts 15.39 "Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus."

compare with Proverbs 30.33

"As the beating of cream yields butter
and striking the nose causes bleeding,
so stirring up anger causes quarrels."

  • We have a tendency to feed, rather than quench any "angry flame!"
  • We do it by insisting on having the "last word" on anything.

Most of us feel like Jonah when GOD was talking with him..

"Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!” Jonah 4.9

We get the crazy idea that we "do well to be angry". Why? Pride and passion are like two flints rubbing together...

James 3.5 " In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire

Anyone willing to put it out, using a "soft answer"?

The key is "patience". Patience is a true peace maker. Learn how to use soft and healing words - gain a double victory... over ourselves first, and then over our friends and enemies...

See you tomorrow...

In the meantime:

May I encourage you to call or email someone and invite them to join us in our daily study in Proverbs...

Your call today, may be the lifeline they really need...make that call. You'll be pleased you did!

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