Proverbs for Apologists

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 08/21/2018

There are some verses in Proverbs that have served me especially well as an apologist. I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” and thereby salvaged conversations that were about to self-destruct. Or I’ve held my tongue, remembering that “when there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Or I’ve asked questions to understand the other person’s point of view because “a fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.”

The last time I read through Proverbs, I collected some of these verses so I could share them with you. Read them, meditate on them, memorize them, and let them shape you.

Seek Knowledge and Wisdom

Do not let kindness and truth leave you,
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man. (3:3–4)

How much better it is to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver. (16:16)

A man has joy in an apt answer,
And how delightful is a timely word! (15:23)

Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another. (27:17)

Tactical Advice

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)

[S]weetness of speech increases persuasiveness. (16:21b)

By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded;
And a soft tongue breaks the bone. (25:15)

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise. (10:19)

Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;
When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent. (17:28)

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Or you will also be like him.
Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
That he not be wise in his own eyes. (26:4–5)


Do not go out hastily to argue your case;
Otherwise, what will you do in the end,
When your neighbor humiliates you? (25:8)

Do not associate with a man given to anger;
Or go with a hot-tempered man,
Or you will learn his ways
And find a snare for yourself. (22:24–25)

When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man,
The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest. (29:9)

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
For he will despise the wisdom of your words. (23:9)

Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain,
Yet his foolishness will not depart from him. (27:22)

The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him. (18:17)

Watch Your Character

A fool does not delight in understanding,
But only in revealing his own mind. (18:2)

He who gives an answer before he hears,
It is folly and shame to him. (18:13)

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling. (16:18)

When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom. (11:2)

Scorners set a city aflame,
But wise men turn away anger. (29:8)

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute. (15:18)

Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me;
I will render to the man according to his work.” (24:29)