A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the Spirit.
– Proverbs 15:4
This proverb contrasts the power of words to either heal or hurt (Proverbs 18:21). The word for wholesome means curative, or healing. The tree of life imagery speaks of life-giving, as here with the wholesome tongue. Wise and apt speech gives health and life (Proverbs 16:24). The word for perverseness refers to distortion or crookedness. What is bent or distorted is obviously the way of wisdom. Such perverseness is a mark of transgressors (Proverbs 11:3). The word for breach means a fracture, or crushing. These words are damaging inwardly and outwardly (Proverbs 18:8).