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Chapters 10 to 22 are the second major section of the Proverbs, known as “The proverbs of Solomon.” This section divides into two parts. Chapters 10 to 15 are the first division with 185 proverbs that are primarily two-line, antithetical parallel phrases. Chapter 15 is the last chapter of the first division and has proverbs on various subjects, such as speech, correction, laziness, bribes, God’s omniscience, and teachability.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
– Proverbs 15:1
The word for soft means tender, and when used of words, refers to gentleness. An answer is a reply and the word for turneth away means to turn back, or in this case, to prevent wrath. A wise man is a calm, clear thinking man who controls his speech (Proverbs 17:27) and chooses his words carefully (Proverbs 15:23, 28). The soft answer here is wise speech that calms anger and restores reasonableness. The contrast is grievous, or painful words. These are words that provoke. The word for stir up means to go up and refers to increasing anger. The stirring up of anger comes from pride (Proverbs 28:25), hatred (Proverbs 10:12), and an angry temperament (Proverbs 29:22). It is the mark of a fool (Proverbs 14:17).