Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
This wise saying describes the attitudes and actions of two very different kinds of people. The first “derides their neighbor” and the second “has understanding.”
Today, we would say it this way about the first person “whoever disrespects their friend.” In the Biblical world, people didn’t get out much — so their neighbors were their friends and their friends were their neighbors.
This person was dissing his or her friend. Friends aren’t supposed to do that to friends…so it’s no surprise that this person “has no sense!”
The second person in our proverb “has understanding” or insight or discernment. In fact, they could have the same neighbor/friend who does the same thing but this person’s “understanding/ discernment” helps them to think the situation through and he or she “holds their tongue.”
They considered the situation and decided to just let it go.
There are times to speak up and there are times to shut up. The one with “no sense” will seldom get it right, while the one “who has understanding” will usually do pretty well.
So…as a guy who does run his mouth — and has been known to talk a little trash on occasion — I think I’m getting the message. It’s a good idea to generally “hold my tongue.”
We have a similar wise saying here at Helping Up Mission — “think it…don’t say it!”