"In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them."
When I began to study this verse, I looked in my Bible, and in some commentaries. I realized that there were two teachings that could come from this one verse. Why? Well, the word "rod" in this verse means "twig" or "stem" but can also have the meaning of a "rod" that beats or (in the Olde English) smites someone.
Well, it stands to reason that you can't have a stem or twig without roots to support and sustain it, right? I started thinking (of course, my hubby says that is dangerous, but hey, let's live dangerously) about my garden. This time of year, the okra has finally petered out, and it's time to pull it up and plow everything under until spring. That's all well and good, except that okra has some pretty strong roots! Some of those plants take every bit of strength that I have, to pull them up out of the ground.
That reminds me of a couple of verses that fit in right here . . . since this rod, or stem is pride, Prov 29:23 tells us that a man's pride will bring him low, and Heb 12:15 tells us about a root of bitterness that can spring up in our heart and needs to be uprooted. I'm thinking that both pride and bitterness can have some pretty strong roots, and just like the okra in my garden, can be very difficult to pull out! But, pull them out we must, or we'll not be able to conquer them.
The reason I added "hickory switches" to the title is for the second possible meaning of rod in this verse. Years ago, it was a common practice (a hateful one, but common) to break a hickory switch off and use it on an unruly or disobedient child. (Personally, I think that is way worse than Tonya's method she has told us about -- switches make welts! Someone told me once that he grabbed the switch from his mother's hand -- she didn't use those anymore after that.) There are a lot of verses that speak of a rod of correction, or instruction. I'm sure that you can probably call them to mind; I don't need to list them. The proud and foolish person, who uses his/her mouth in a prideful, arrogant way, will ultimately be corrected by their own words. They may also be corrected by others who they've hurt with their haughty words and attitude.
Well, either way you look at this verse, I don't think any of us want to emulate the proud or foolish person. We'd rather be like the wise person in the second half of the verse: to guard our lips and speech, and not fall into the traps of pride and arrogance. By using some discretion, or wisdom, we can avoid the pitfalls our mouths can get us in!