(27) He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
(28) Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
We live in an opinion-driven world. Anyone with a social media account can give his/her thoughts and have it heard by thousands, even millions and it doesn’t matter if the opinion is based on fact or fairy tale.
When Proverbs describes the wise, it says more about what they don’t say than what they do say. A wise person, according to Proverbs, is a person of few words. They do not run around under the delusion that the world needs to hear what they think. In fact, they are careful not to give their opinions. Rather they strive to speak according to God’s truth. It is why a wise person “spares his words.” He keeps them close and treats them as precious, understanding that too many words can lead to trouble.
A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. (Proverbs 29:11)
A fool can’t wait to tell you what he thinks. A wise man is willing to keep his thoughts hidden until he has had time to know and understand God’s truth on the matter and he is willing to keep his thoughts on a matter even if it means speaking well after the original conversation.
Have you ever met someone like that? Something comes up and immediately, everyone has an opinion – except that one person in the room who is conspicuous by his silence. The conversation hits a natural pause and then someone asks that one person: “What do you think?” To everyone’s disappointment, he just smiles and says: “I’ll have to think on it,” and that’s all he says. The conversation continues on without him with some assuming he has no opinion at all. Then, sometime later, this same person says something about the situation that is so clear and so insightful that it puts everyone else to silence. It’s reminiscent of Elihu, the youngest of Job’s friends who said nothing until nearly the end of the book of Job and Elihu’s words were so powerful and wise that God Himself took up the young man’s line of argument. Not even Job saw fit to speak after that.
Most people are quick to give their opinions about things because they want to appear to be the smartest person in the room. The wise person keeps his words few and precious because he understands the less said, the better.