Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19 ESV
When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his stick.
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools.
From Elliot: For all these cautions are required in the building up of the new life. “The quick speaker is the quick kindler;” and we are told later on “how great a matter a little fire kindleth” (James 3:5). And what have we at all to do with wrath, much less that our whole life–as unhappily it often is–should be wasted with such bitterness? Anger, no doubt, is a wholesome tonic for some minds, and certain weaknesses; but “he that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
Gill states: Silence is not only highly commended by the Pythagoreans, among whom it was enjoined their disciples five years (m); but also by the Jews: they say, nothing is better for the body than silence; that if a word is worth one shekel, silence is worth two, or worth a precious stone; that it is the spice of speech, and the chief of all spices; that it is the hedge of wisdom; hence it is the advice of Shammai; “say little, and do much” (n): and they cry up, as a very excellent precept, “be silent, and hear”; and as containing more than persons are aware of (o).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
- Wherefore—as your evil is of yourselves, but your good from God. The true method of hearing is treated in Jas 1:21-27, and Jas 2:1-26.
slow to speak—(Pr 10:19; 17:27, 28; Ec 5:2). A good way of escaping one kind of temptation arising from ourselves (Jas 1:13). Slow to speak authoritatively as a master or teacher of others (compare Jas 3:1): a common Jewish fault: slow also to speak such hasty things of God, as in Jas 1:13.
Two ears are given to us, the rabbis observe, but only one tongue: the ears are open and exposed, whereas the tongue is walled in behind the teeth.
slow to wrath—(Jas 3:13, 14; 4:5). Slow in becoming heated by debate: another Jewish fault (Ro 2:8), to which much speaking tends. Tittmann thinks not so much “wrath” is meant, as an indignant feeling of fretfulness under the calamities to which the whole of human life is exposed; this accords with the “divers temptations” in Jas 1:2. Hastiness of temper hinders hearing God’s word; so Naaman, 2Ki 5:11; Lu 4:28.
Matthew Henry Commentary
Instead of blaming God under our trials, let us open our ears and hearts to learn what He teaches by them.
And if men would govern their tongues, they must govern their passions. The worst thing we can bring to any dispute, is anger. Here is an exhortation to lay apart, and to cast off as a filthy garment, all sinful practices. This must reach to sins of thought and affection, as well as of speech and practice; to every thing corrupt and sinful. We must yield ourselves to the word of God, with humble and teachable minds. Being willing to hear of our faults, taking it not only patiently, but thankfully. It is the design of the word of God to make us wise to salvation; and those who propose any mean or low ends in attending upon it, dishonour the gospel, and disappoint their own souls.
Woe is me. Glory to God. Oh the opposites in life. The antimony. The paradox. The energy of electrons and neurons. The striving to balance extremes while doing good and avoiding evil, which so easily besets and is even entrenched in our very DNA.
The art and wisdom of knowing when to bite thy lip and when to succinctly voice one’s opinion. This takes great wisdom and vast experience. Like the wise king Solomon wrote, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” in Eccl 3:1. As offers further sage advice here in Ecclesiastes 8:6
“For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him.” Shew, ain’t that the truth.
Good God, You know left to my own, I am sure to get lost, dazed and confused when dealing with these things. By Your precious, wonderful Spirit and Word, please guide and direct me henceforth.