Words to Help the Whole Man
by Steve Wallace

Proverbs 16:24, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (KJV).  

God’s word is, “Sweeter also than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10). Let us reflect for a moment on its effects on people who received it. Jesus’ words to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus made their hearts burn within them  (Lk. 24:13-22). Philip’s inspired words led to the Eunuch’s going on his way rejoicing and Paul’s words to his weary shipmates were sweet and healthy to them (Acts 8:35-39; 27:33-36). All agree on the good effects of the words of God. What about pleasant words from mere men?

The good effects of pleasant words are commended here. They are twofold. They are sweet to the soul, as honey is sweet (Jdgs. 14:14), and health to the bones. Bones here are “a synonym for the whole person” (TDOT, XI, 307,308; cf. Prov. 3:8; 14:30; 15:30). Health in our text speaks of the “therapeutic effect of wise words” (TDOT, XIII, 599). Hence, Lawson is in line with his comment on the effects of pleasant words when he writes, “They revive the drooping spirit, and strengthen the feeble knees” (Exposition of the Book of Proverbs, 380).  

What falls under the heading of “pleasant words”? Caution must be exercised as some seemingly pleasant words appeal to the worst sides of a person, such as pride and lust. A flattering mouth may lift us up to our own demise (Prov. 26:28). Likewise, “the lips of a strange woman drop honey…but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword” (Prov. 5:3,4). Let us now note pleasant words that do a person good.

* Pleasant words that are pure (Prov. 15:26; Jas. 3:17).  
* “The tongue of the wise is health” (Prov. 12:18).  
* “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious” (Eccl. 10:12).  
* “Good tidings make the bones fat” (Prov. 15:30).  
* “Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; So doth the sweetness of a man’s friend that cometh of hearty counsel” (Prov. 27:9).  
* “A faithful ambassador is health” (Prov. 13:17).  
* Words of those seeking peace (1 Pet. 3:11; Prov. 12:20; cf. 1 Sam. 25:23-25).  

The Bible has much to say about the power of words. As we have seen, pleasant words have a power all their own. Are such words a neglected part of your vocabulary? Remember, the words of God that are comforting and soothing.

“Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear” (Eph. 4:29).


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