GOLD APPLE, SET IN SILVER
Lord, teach me to be mindful of what I say.
Read PROVERBS 25
More Proverbs of Solomon
25 These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,
so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.
4 Remove the dross from the silver,
and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
5 remove wicked officials from the king’s presence,
and his throne will be established through righteousness.
6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
and do not claim a place among his great men;
7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”
than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.
What you have seen with your eyes
8 do not bring[a] hastily to court,
for what will you do in the end
if your neighbor puts you to shame?
9 If you take your neighbor to court,
do not betray another’s confidence,
10 or the one who hears it may shame you
and the charge against you will stand.
11 Like apples[b] of gold in settings of silver
is a ruling rightly given.
12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold
is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear.
13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time
is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him;
he refreshes the spirit of his master.
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
is one who boasts of gifts never given.
15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
16 If you find honey, eat just enough—
too much of it, and you will vomit.
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—
too much of you, and they will hate you.
18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow
is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.
19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot
is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.
20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,
or like vinegar poured on a wound,
is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.
23 Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain
is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.
24 Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
25 Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land.
26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well
are the righteous who give way to the wicked.
27 It is not good to eat too much honey,
nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep.
28 Like a city whose walls are broken through
is a person who lacks self-control.
a Proverbs 25:8 Or nobles / on whom you had set your eyes. / 8 Do not go
b Proverbs 25:11 Or possibly apricots
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘‘Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” (Psalms 63:3)
Verses 11–15 address the issue of proper speech. The metaphors of jewelry (11, 12) and weather (13, 14) are employed to depict loving words and careless speech. Wise people recognize a word spoken aptly at the right time is fitting, as a jeweler sets a gold apple in a silver setting, which maximizes its appeal (11). A word of reproof or correction is of no value unless it finds a receptive listener, to whom the rebuke is like a beautiful piece of jewelry (12).
The mixture of snow into spring water is offered as refreshment during the harvest. A reliable messenger is compared with the soothing cold drink on a scorching hot day – he refreshes the spirit of his master (13). The one who boasts of gifts but never delivers is like clouds and wind without rain. The sages warn against making an empty promise, which brings frustration and disappointment (14). These two verses contrast the difference between speaking faithfully and falsely. The patience and gentleness of a person is conducive to the power of persuasive speak-ing (15). Patience is literally “long of nose” in Hebrew, which means “slow to anger.” The soft tongue that breaks a bone speaks gently and persuasively.
The passage above brings out how the persuasiveness of speech is determined by the attitude and personality of both the speaker and the listener – the loving discernment of good timing (11), the humble reception of rebuke (12), and the personal reliability (13, 14) and self-control (15) of the speaker. Our attitudes will undoubtedly undergird the credibility of our words. May the Holy Spirit guard and examine our hearts. May he help and shape us to be men and women of our words.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
Help us, oh Lord, not to be know-it-alls but rather to be open to properly motivated correction, especially when it comes from heaven.
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