Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 18:4
"The words of a man's mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook"
There are three pictures of the words that a person uses. They are deep waters; they are a fountain of wisdom; and they are a bubbling brook.
The way the second half of this proverb is translated is that it is a separate sentence, but it is not. It is just two more pictures of a man's words: a fountain of wisdom, a bubbling brook. In the NASB, the marginal reading shows this.
What is Solomon saying? He is pointing out that the person who is perceptive can learn a lot about a person from listening to them talk. What is really going on inside of the person will bubble out through their speech.
Unfortunately our culture has forgotten how to listen to others. We seem much more bent on waiting until there is a pause and speaking ourselves.
The picture of deep waters suggests that there is much beyond the words themselves. There are motives, emotions, desires, fear, hopes, etc. If you listen to the people around you, they will uncover who they are in what they talk about and how they talk about it.
It is also true that you will give people an incredible gift if you listen to them intensely. All of us long for those people, that we respect and enjoy, to be fascinated with what we have to say. This means that you use the six aspects of good listening: eye contact, body lean, minimal encourages; and verbal following: paraphrasing, mirroring, summarizing, detachment, questions.
When a person cares enough to listen intently, using these means, they will discover a great wisdom about the person.
fountain of wisdom
This is the picture of a constant newness and freshness. The speech of a person – while it may sound the same with the same topics – there is a newness and freshness to what they are thinking. The words that they are using is a fountain bubbling up new water. It may be that they are fearful of new things which is what our modern advertising community wants to exploit. It may be that they are hopeful of attaining new heights which supplies energy to keep moving forward. It may be that they are able to see old truths in a new light which is how time heals many wounds.
Solomon is saying not to dismiss what a person is talking about just because the topic is the same. Listen for the new angle; the new information; the new emotion; the new insight.
a bubbling brook
This is a little bit of an unfortunate translation as the word means a river or torrent. It is something that pours forth or gushes forth. The kernel idea is something that has a lot of volume. Solomon seems to be saying that the words of a person can come rushing out at times, yelling wisdom about the person. There is the potential of lots of words from anyone if you hit the right topic or they are ready to talk.
One needs to ask: Why would this information be crucial to the development of a wise person? Answer: The wise person knows how to listen to others and listens beneath the surface. The wise person embraces the fact that there will never be a time when you know everything there is to know about a person. The wise person realizes that there is a torrent of information inside of this person that wants to come out or could come out at any time.
We need to be more fascinated by people – especially the people who are near to us. There is an appalling lack of curiosity in other people's souls. This is why our relationships are weak. Remember LIFE IS RELATIONSHIPS. If you don't have relationships, you don't have a life.
Go out today and listen with new vigor and insight.