The speech of the wicked. The appearances in the mashal literature indicate that the greatest danger posed by the wicked is their speech. Their mouth conceals violence and is perverted;30 they are like springs bubbling forth harm and injury.31 If wisdom is the "art of steering,"32 then the "steering" of the wicked is deceitful.33 No wonder towns can be overthrown by their mouth.34
The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers men. Proverbs 12:6
Their very words are bloody ambushes!
Most likely, the danger posed by the speech of the wicked is related not to common gossip but to the legal setting where false or distorted speech and counsel can quite literally destroy others. At least three sayings clearly presuppose the judicial life of a community.
A wicked man accepts a bribe from the bosom
to pervert the ways of justice. Proverbs 17:23 A worthless witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked devours
30 31 32 Prov. 10:6, 11, 32. 15:28. W. Zimmerli, "The place and Limit of Wisdom in the Framework of the Old Testament Theology," Scottish Journal of Theology 17 (1964), 149. 12:5. 11:11. 33 34