At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth:Proverbs 15:23
And a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
Hebraic parallelisms take different forms. Sometimes it is a simple parallel, stated in different words, with each clause informing the other. Other times it is a contrast, setting forth opposites. In this case, the repetition takes the first thought as expressed, and rolls it out a little bit further.
The way this is stated, we do not know exactly where the joy of the apt answer lands. Is it something that brings joy to the one whogives the apt answer, or to the one who receives it? Or perhaps both?
In either case, the additional information that comes to us in this second phrase is found in the words in due season. We are talking about the aptness of a timely word. As one of our sages has expressed it, the only difference between salad and garbage is timing.
Whoever finds this joy, whoever experiences the goodness of a good answer, the goodness is to be found in the fact that it was a word in due season, the right word for the right moment. Someone who spouts falsehoods is never a blessing. But someone who offers truisms at all the wrong moments is like Mary Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. Some are so distracted by the truth of what they are saying that they never notice how their timing makes the truth into an odd sort of lie.
So when we have done something that is verbally maladroit, we cannot excuse our poor timing by retreating to the dictionary in order to plead for our lexicographical justifications. But I was blessing him. “He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, It shall be counted a curse to him” (Proverbs 27:14).
We must not take our words as though they were an odd collection of silver links of chain and small pearls, tucked into a little box, and pronounced to be a necklace. No. The setting matters (Prov. 25:11), and an important part of the setting is the timing.