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The Wise Person Pauses and Considers His Words
Proverbs 12:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
16 A fool’s anger is known in a day,
but the prudent man covers shame.
A fool’s anger is known in a day: Fools (Heb. kesîl) hate knowledge as they lack good judgment. Their character is stupidity, rudeness, that is, one who completely lacks understanding, who is rebellious in his ways. (Prov. 1:22) The Foolishness: (Heb. ivveleth) of the foolish one, who has the trait of acting stupidly or rashly because he is devoid of wisdom or understanding, the Hebrew noun focusing on the evil behaviors which occur in this state. In his own eyes means that this fool thinks he is right, namely, his opinions, conduct, and behavior do not need to be corrected or improved. In a day is a phrase that means a very short period of time. Here it means at once.
but the prudent man covers shame: The prudent (Heb. arum) man is one who shows shrewdness, cleverness, craftiness, sensibility, wisdom, and good judgment in making his decisions. The prudent man has a capacity for understanding the ramification of what he says and does. His covering (Heb. kese) shame means that he ignores, disregards, or pays no attention to the shame (Heb. qalon), dishonor, or humiliation. In other words, he is not easily provoked and remains calm in the face of a personal attack, such as an insult, scorn, or slander.
At times we may be slighted or insulted in one way or another. What shall we do? Retaliate? Respond in kind? No, for we are not to repay evil for evil. (Rom. 12:17-21) The foolish man angrily responds to an insult to his honor very quickly. However, the prudent man pauses long enough for a short prayer and to consider the results of responding inappropriately. He takes the time to ponder God’s Word. Jesus’ words: “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39) When he responds in such a way, he avoids escalating the tension and causing more contention that could end with more emotion or physical pain to himself or others. His failure to exercise self-control may also lead to the loss of his personal dignity.
When one overreacts to some personal affront and then acts rashly, he makes himself look foolish in the eyes of others. On the other hand, he wisely ignores confrontational remarks and actions by getting control over his tongue and holding back and irrational actions. He realizes that his honor is not worth what could result from a rash response. He lets time pass until the dishonor he felt has died down, as though it had never occurred. In doing this, he actually preserves his dignity and peace of mind. He has not allowed another to move him to resort to using disgraceful words.
The fact that the prudent man is shrewd, clever, and crafty does not mean that he is silently scheming his revenge. Rather, these qualities can apply in a good sense as well as a bad sense. Here, these qualities are used with knowledge and wisdom in the book of Proverbs
In Proverbs, it is linked with knowledge and wisdom, with a prudent person who thinks a matter through instead of reacting just from emotion. (Prov. 13:16; 14:8; 22:3) In the face of some unjust criticism or petty insult that seems to bring dishonor, the shrewd person restrains his tongue. He remains in control, instead of letting the other person or the situation control him. And he certainly benefits from such prudence in that he thus avoids the fights that frequently come to the person who rashly responds when his feelings are hurt.
 That is, at once