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Wisdom Instructs Us on the Right or Wrong Words
Proverbs 15:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a painful word stirs up anger.
A gentle answer turns away wrath. The Hebrew adjective (רַךְ rak) rendered gentle, concerns one’s speech as it relates to attitude or behavior which is not severe, as a positive moral quality of kindness or sensitivity. Answer (מַעֲנֶה maaneh) here refers to a response that is made in reply to anger, an accusation, or criticism. Turns away (יָשִׁיב חֵמָה yashab chamah) is the translation the causative form of a verb meaning “to cause another to turn back.” The point of 15:1a is that the angry speaker can be turned away or turned back, with his anger being set aside, that is calmed by a gentle or tender response. Wrath (חֵמָה chemah) is a feeling of intense anger or fury, that is, a strong feeling of annoyance or discontentment, aggression (unfriendliness), and bitterness and dislike, generally because of being wronged, whether it is real or mistaken. The person has worked themselves up into a heated, burning emotion because of some kind of conflict and turmoil.
But a painful word stirs up anger. The Hebrew (וּדְבַר־עֶצֶב u·debar-etseb) rendered painful word refers to a harsh or hurtful word, an acute discomfort, that is, words that are done in a heated exchange, which are critical, and excessively cruel or blunt, candid, or straightforward, with the intention of causing mental anguish. Stirs up anger (יַעֲלֶה־אָף ya·aleh-aph) means to arouse or excite feelings of passion and is contrasted with turns away in the first line.
“Anger” is a term that encompasses a strong emotion or reaction of displeasure. “Wrath” is a feeling of extremely strong anger that is very difficult to control. A good illustration would be what would you do if a small fire got started in your home? Would you throw water or gasoline on it? If you threw gasoline on it, immediately it would burst into huge flames, making the fire extremely out of control. However, if you doused it with water, it would bring that small fire under control. Likewise, an angry reaction can make an unfriendly interaction worse because it adds fuel to the fire. (Prov. 26:21) Instead, a gentle reply will often calm the situation. It can even soften the feelings of the person whose emotions have become hostile. The right or wrong words can be used as a tool or a weapon for causing healing or hurt.
 That is, harsh
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