My understanding of that proverb is that a man who vents his malice toward his neighbor with all sorts of slanderous accusations is like a man who is so enraged he just shoots at everything, and then claims he was only joking and didn’t mean to hurt anyone.
I know you’ve seen it happen--someone makes a snide comment, then when it becomes obvious that his words will get him into trouble, he smiles and says, “I was only teasing.” But anyone close to the situation, who knows it well, knows that it was anything but teasing. We women have a special word for remarks like that: “catty.” They are instantly recognizable and, in our embarrassed silence, those of us within earshot become complicit because no one wants to make a scene. It would just embarrass the victim further, we rationalize. But doesn’t that just reward the miscreant so that he continues on to hurt others? I wonder sometimes if a woman shouldn’t say to the smug little tabby cat, “That was an ugly thing to say;” if an honorable man shouldn’t stand up to the smirking tom in question and say, “That isn’t funny—you have crossed a line.” Would it really cause more embarrassment than has been forced on everyone already?
God wants a joyful people. He wants people who enjoy their lives here as much as possible, and who enjoy each other as well, even joking and teasing one another. Jesus, with his hilarious metaphors—running around with a log sticking out of your eye, or straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel--showed us that a sense of humor is not sinful, that we do not have to live with a sober, serious look on our faces all the time. Sometimes a sense of humor is the only thing that gets us through a difficult situation—perhaps that is one reason God gave us one, as a defense against Satan and the trials of life. To use it maliciously seems, well, irreverent somehow.
Today I will be especially careful to watch my tongue and how I use that wonderful sense God gave me. All you have to do is look at a hippopotamus to know that He has it too.
Behold this is the joy of his way; and out of the earth shall others spring. He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouting. They that hate you shall be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked shall be no more. Job 8:19,21,22