Proverbs 25:13-23

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Proverbs 25

13 As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

There are many ideas regarding the meaning of the cold of snow in the time of harvest.

Believers Bible Commentary says, "Snowing in harvest would be disastrous. Here the snow is added to a drink to make it cold. A cool drink on a hot day is refreshing to those working in the fields."

Bible Knowledge Commentary says, "Snow in the mountains (not snow falling on the crops in the dry season) is refreshing during the heat of harvesttime."

Wycliffe Bible Commentary says, "It refers to a cool drink from the snowy mountains or a cooling trip to them."

Peter A. Stevenson says, The third simile likens the faithful messenger to the refreshing cold that comes from snow in the heat of the summer. The "cold of snow" is not the fall of snow. This would not happen during the harvest season and, in fact, would be disastrous should it happen. Rather, the "cold of snow" is that coldness that comes from snow that has been preserved in a cleft in the mountains and is now brought down to cool beverages. In like manner, the reliable messenger who carries out his assigned task is a source of mental refreshment to his master, v. 13.

Greenstone . . . understands the "cold of snow" to be a refreshing breeze that comes off the snowcapped mountains of Israel.

Plaut . . . thinks that the verse is hyperbole, snow in harvest being the "height of imaginable pleasures."

Charles Bridges says, "Snow itself would be unseasonable in the time of harvest. But the cold of snow would be most refreshing to the parched and fainting reapers."

Phillips says, "A man in the Roman empire, if he was wealthy enough, would often refresh the guests at his table with drinks iced by snow that was brought at enormous cost and great speed from distant snow-clad peaks. . . . In his proverb Solomon was likening a faithful messenger to ice-cold drinks brought to perspiring laborers in a harvest field."

14 Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.

He promises more than he can deliver. Clouds and wind suggest that rain is on the way. How disappointing when all we get are clouds and wind, but no rain when it is desperately needed.

I was told when I moved to North Carolina that there were many independent Baptist Churches there which had a lot of thunder and lightning but not much rain. Unfortunately, there is too much truth in this statement.

15 By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.

Gentleness and patience rather than exasperation, anger, insults, or harsh words will often persuade someone.

A gentle tongue will accomplish more than powerful jaws and teeth.

Wives, husbands, and children could learn much about their interpersonal relations by using a gentle tongue.

16 Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.

Honey is good when taken in moderation, but too much of a good thing may be sickening.

17 Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.

Moderation applies not only to honey but also to visiting. It is important to know when to leave. One can overstay his welcome.

18 A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.

A maul is a club. A man who bears false witness against his neighbor smashes him to pieces, cuts him, and pierces and wounds him.

19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

Biting down hard with a broken tooth is not a good idea. It will hurt. Putting all your weight on a foot that is out of joint will likewise hurt and let you down.

Putting confidence in unreliable people in time of trouble is painful and disappointing.

20 As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre [i.e. soda], so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.

A garment is needed in cold weather. It is unsuitable to take it away. Vinegar poured on soda will cause the soda to bubble profusely.

Singing songs to someone who is very grieved and has a heavy heart is unsuitable, provoking, annoying, and unwelcome.

21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:

We can overcome evil with good by repaying every offense or discourtesy with kindness. Unfortunately, this is not how our old sin natures work.

22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

This is quoted by Paul in Romans 12:20 . Bible Knowledge Commentary says,

Sometimes a person's fire went out and he needed to borrow some live coals to restart his fire. Giving a person live coals in a pan to carry home "on his head" was a neighborly, kind act; it makes friends, not enemies. Also the kindness shown in giving someone food and water makes him ashamed of being an enemy, and brings God's blessing on the benefactor.

In contrast to this, Peter A. Stevenson writes,

The phrase "heap coals of fire on his head" most naturally refers to the judgment that takes place upon those who reject our offer of love. When we act in a loving way to our enemy, he has only two responses. If he is brought to remorse over his actions, he can respond in a kindly manner and the breach will be healed. If, however, he rejects our kindly actions, he puts himself in a position in which the wrath of God will overtake him. God's judgment, the "coals of fire," will rain down upon his life by way of punishment for his evil actions and attitude.

The kindness is not undertaken as a deliberate attempt to increase the judgment upon an enemy. It is always appropriate to show Christian love to another person, no matter whether friend or enemy. The verse simply states a logical result of the kindness. There is no attempt to exalt evil motives. The Lord's "reward" is for the godly response, not for an ungodly attitude of revenge. . . .

23 The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.

Just as one can predict the consequence of a north wind; one can also predict the consequence of a backbiting tongue, i.e. of a slanderous tongue.

Likewise, an angry look drives away (or silences) a backbiting tongue.