Proverbs 25:16

Don’t Overdo a Good Thing

If you find honey, eat just enough—too much of it, and you will vomit.

As a child I loved pears. One day, a friend and I found a pear tree with some juicy ripe fruit on it. Before long, I was sick of pears and my stomach was reeling. I didn’t eat another pear for years. Such is the penalty we pay when we overindulge in the otherwise good things that God has given us to enjoy.

Today, I am tempted by peanut butter, mayonnaise, sour-dough bread, cookies, and ice cream, just to mention a few delicacies. I’m not really afraid of vomiting after eating any of these foods: I guess I’ve outgrown that phase. But I am afraid of the pounds they add to my frame. It’s food you can wear. We are tempted to overindulge with our eyes, feasting on too much TV. We’re tempted to listen to too much secular music or too many talk shows on the radio. These things aren’t necessarily wrong in and of themselves, but too much of them will begin to show up in a flabby spirituality and walk with God.

Of God’s honey, no amount is too much. We are called to feed on the Word of God, to desire its sweetness, and to be gorged on its power (1 Peter 2:2; James 1:25). We are to put the Word into practice as we grow from spiritual babies to mature Christians (Hebrews 5:11-14). Feast on the honey of the Word of God and go easy on the honey of the natural world. God has prepared a place for us that is overflowing with the milk and honey of an eternity with Him.

Scriptural Examples

Samson. He killed a lion with his bare hands, leaving its carcass to rot on the ground. Sometime later he saw that it housed a hive of bees. He scooped out some of the honey and went on his way, dreaming up a riddle about it. Samson was a man who always seemed to overindulge in sensual pleasures. Ultimately, it got the best of him (Judges 14:1–16:31).

Prayer of Application

Lord, thank You for the many pleasures You give me freely to enjoy. But help me to not let any have power over me. Although all things are legal for me, all things are not expedient.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 25:15

Fight with Patience and a Gentle Tongue

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

Back in the days of Napoleon and the French Revolution, when heads were rolling in the streets of Paris, a man across the English Channel was waging a different kind of warfare. His name was William Wilberforce and his enemy was the English slave trade. For over 40 years, this devout Christian politician exercised patience and a gentle tongue and won the battle to emancipate all of the slaves in the British Empire. What a contrast to the blood that flowed in America in our own Civil War fought over the same issue. And what a contrast to the way we typically wage our little everyday wars.

My mind goes instinctively to 1 Peter 3:1-2 when I think of the proverb above. There, women who are married to unbelievers are given instructions about how they are to graciously live with their husbands. Peter might just as well have quoted this proverb, applying it to unbelieving husbands. Nagging and belittling and arguing over doctrine never won anybody to the Lord. But patience and a gentle tongue have persuaded many.

Let us follow Christ’s example. Whether the battle that rages around you is in your home, at your job, in your school, or at your church, use the weapons of patience and a gentle tongue. God is in control.

Scriptural Examples

David and Saul. While Saul was waging war with the tools of the world, David used a gentle tongue. At one juncture, Saul killed 85 priests of God in his vehement wrath. But twice when he had Saul cornered, David refused to take his life. Instead, David spoke to him with patience and gentleness. Saul was forced to confess, “May you be blessed, my son David.” And David was blessed (1 Samuel 24:8-20; 26:17-25).

Prayer of Application

Dear God, I am often tempted to raise my voice in anger when confronted with wickedness and violence in the world. Help me instead to use the weapons of patience and a gentle tongue.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 25:14

Flee from the Barrenness of Idolatry

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.

Proverbs 25:13 speaks of the refreshment given to people by the faithful messenger. Here is the unfaithful messenger, someone who promises gifts but never delivers. Rain that would refresh the earth and bring forth fruit never comes. Here is a covetous rich person who announces that he’s going to give a big gift to the church, but somehow the money never arrives. He may be the one who promises to enter an agreement but never goes through with the deal. (Sound familiar, salespeople?)

But I believe that there is a wider application here—idolatry. We are idolators because of the sin that is in our hearts. Given the chance, we often run to the first promise that looks good, forsaking the promises of God. And when we place our hope in anything over and above the promises and providence of God, we are into idolatry. And exactly what is the idol to whom we will run? It is someone or something which boasts of gifts that he or it does not give.

God is the One who brings all good gifts. There is no other ultimate Giver (James 1:17). He gives us new life and sends the rain to refresh us and cause our fruit to grow. Hope in God and God alone for every good and perfect gift.

Scriptural Examples

Satan. This deceiver boasted of gifts he did not give as he misled the first couple. Instead, he brought death (Genesis 3:3-5).

Idols. The Israelites often worshiped the gods of the other nations. But these “gods” were only wood and stone. People like idols because idols put no demands on them and can be manipulated. There is a real sense in which the Bible is all about the worship of idols versus the worship due only to the true God. Only in Christ can we worship the true God.

False teachers. Both Peter and Jude speak of these men as “clouds without rain” and “springs without water.” How different they are from faithful pastors (Jude 11-13; 2 Peter 2:17).

Prayer of Application

Lord, keep me from idolatry. I become enamored easily with the ways of this world. Help me to put all my confidence in You, Lord, as the source of every good and perfect gift.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 25:13

Encourage Your Pastor and His Wife

Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters.

Harvest time is the hottest time of the year in many places. The faithful messenger is like a frosty snowcone on a day of harvesting. Doesn’t that describe your faithful pastor?

The encouragement we receive from the faithful preaching of the Word of God is far better than a cold drink on parched lips. It reaches down deep into one’s soul and refreshes like nothing else can. When we are going through times of trial, the Word is especially encouraging. Without it we might give up.

But you know your faithful pastor feels the “heat” for his entire congregation. When one of his flock is hurting, he hurts with them. When someone is in grief, the pastor grieves, too. He needs everyone’s encouragement. And don’t forget his wife. She needs a special portion of encouragement as she seeks to fulfill her difficult role in his life and in the life of the church.

Here’s a short list of ways you can encourage your pastor and his wife, although I’m sure you can think of many more: (1) pray for them daily; (2) attend church regularly; (3) ask how you can shoulder some of the heavy load; (4) send them notes of encouragement; (5) remember their birthdays and their anniversary; (6) invite them out to dinner; (7) above all, imitate Christ in all that you do. They will then be encouraged as they see the fruit of their ministry being borne out in your life.

Scriptural Examples

Jahaziel. Facing a war with the Ammonites and Moabites, the Israelites and their king, Jehoshaphat, were encouraged by this little-known man (2 Chronicles 20:14-17).

Priscilla and Aquila. This couple encouraged Apollos, a bold preacher of the gospel of Christ (Acts 18:24-28).

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for the encouragement of my pastor and his wife. May I in turn encourage them and become for them what they are for me, the coolness of snow at harvest time.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 25:11-12

Be an Encourager

11) A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. 12) Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.

They don’t grow many golden apples in southern California where we used to live, but they do have golden oranges. However, the allusion here seems to be to apples of the precious metal gold. Perhaps they are set in a silver ring. The idea is that a word aptly spoken is like a precious and choice jewel in a setting that complements its value and charm.

With your permission, I’d like to change the word “rebuke” in verse 12 to “encouragement” and look at the verses in that light. Actually, even rebuke should be encouragement. When we gently rebuke someone, such as our children, our motive should be to encourage them to be their very best.

If you are looking for a job to do in your local congregation, why not set yourself up as president of the “Encourager’s Club”? There are no dues or by-laws, and it’s OK if you are the only member. All you have to do to get started is to find someone who needs encouragement and encourage her! Someone whom you know is hurting may need a kind word and an assurance that you are standing with him. You could send notes of encouragement to the sick. Or you just might write about how you appreciate the other person. Use your imagination!

In the next proverb, 25:13, we’ll look at those who should be number one on your list of people to encourage: your pastor and his wife.

Scriptural Examples

Boaz. Boaz noticed Ruth as she gleaned in his field and encouraged her to stay and gather much. He commended her for her love for Naomi and gave her his blessing (Ruth 2:8-12).

Barnabas. This companion of Paul was a great joy to him. Even his name means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, help me to encourage others. I know from my own experience how sweet a word of encouragement is from a brother or sister. It seems to breathe new life into me.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 25:8-10

Don’t Be Quick to Judge Your Neighbor

8) What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame? 9) If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man’s confidence, 10) or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation.

Frances got off the city bus just as rays of morning sunlight streamed through the trees on Elm Street. Working the graveyard shift was tough, but it was a job. As she neared her home, she saw a man backing a green Chevrolet out of the driveway at Erma Smith’s house. She stopped in her tracks. “Erma is having an affair,” Frances said half-aloud.

She was soon on the phone calling Gretchen Latimer. A sleepy woman’s voice answered and Frances vomited out what she had seen. “Well, don’t tell anybody,” Gretchen said, “but I’ve suspected Erma of cheating on her husband for years!” Within an hour Frances had called all of her friends.

In a few minutes the phone rang. The voice on the other end was spewing bullets. “Frances, this is Erma Smith. What’s the big idea of spreading a story of my having an affair? The man you saw was my husband’s brother James, visiting us from Pittsburgh.” Frances hastened to retreat. “Well, I didn’t think there was anything wrong, but Gretchen Latimer told me that you had been cheating on George for years.”

Relationships are destroyed because of a rush to judgment. Derek Kidner wisely points out that a woman like Frances: 1) didn’t know all the facts, 2) didn’t interpret the facts correctly, and 3) had impure motives (pp. 157-58). She also divulged secrets to clear herself of blame (Lawson, pp. 441-42).

I believe Jesus would have instructed Frances to solve the matter privately (Matthew 18:15). As it was, she probably lost two friends, Erma and Gretchen, and got a very bad reputation, one that she may never lose (v. 10, above).

(NOTE: The above characters are fictitious. Any relationship to real people is coincidental. Bob)

Prayer of Application

Father, keep me from judging quickly, but to always give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Help me never to spread gossip about anyone or betray the confidence of a friend.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 25:6-7

Imitate Christ’s Humility

6) Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men; 7) It is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.

God chose to reveal Himself to us in His Son, “who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8)!”

There is a wonderful old hymn that goes like this: “Out of the ivory palaces, into a world of woe.” The song tells the story of Jesus, who in unfathomable humility came to this earth to die for the sins of people like you and me. In doing so, He revealed God’s character of ultimate humility, grace and love.

How much different are we. We who are nothing seek to elevate ourselves in the eyes of others and will use every trick in the book to do it. How foolish we are and what a glaring difference between our character and that of the Living God. Humble yourself after the example of Jesus.

Scriptural Examples

The disciples. They argued among themselves as to who was the greatest. They didn’t get it, did they? Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last(Mark 9:33-35).

The Roman centurion. He asked Jesus to heal his servant, but said he didn’t deserve Him under his roof. Jesus lauded his faith and appreciated his humility as well (Luke 7:2-10).

The party guest. Jesus attended a party once where guests sought places of honor, so He told a parable about a man who didn’t heed this proverb. The man was humiliated when his host asked him to move to a lesser seat (Luke 14:7-10).

Prayer of Application

Dear God, how far I am from the excellence of Your divine nature. I can taste it, but I can’t duplicate it. Help me to grow more in the likeness of Your Son to bring Him glory.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 25:4-5

Keep Looking Up!

4) Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith; 5) remove the wicked from the king’s presence and his throne will be established through righteousness.

In the last verses, we saw that it was to the glory of a king to search out a matter. Here we see why the godly king searches: that his throne be established in righteousness.

To remove the dross — its slag or scum — from silver, the refiner applies a lot of heat. The silver ore is melted. Its impurities then float to the surface where they are skimmed off. In this same process the king above searches out the wicked. He applies the heat and the wicked are revealed.

Our Great King is now on His throne applying heat to this world. One day, He will remove all the wicked from this planet, skimming them off into a fire that will never be quenched (Isaiah 66:24). At the same time, He is in the process of removing wickedness from His children (Hebrews 2:17-18) by applying the heat of discipline in our lives, sanctifying and purifying us (Hebrews 12:10-11; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

Wickedness seems to be everywhere we look. Indeed, all creation displays the many effects of sin (Romans 8:22). We groan, awaiting the redemption that draws nearer with every passing day. This is our great hope in which we are saved (Romans 8:24), and we are to wait patiently for it. Keep looking up! Your redemption draws nigh (Luke 21:28).

Scriptural Examples

Solomon. Just before David died, he gave a charge to his son who was to succeed to the throne. David exhorted him to follow the Law of the Lord and to rid the kingdom of the wicked who would hinder the proper establishment of a righteous reign. Joab, Shimei, and others were subsequently slain by Solomon as he brought the heat to bear (1 Kings 2).

Prayer of Application

Lord God, one day soon the history of this world will be invaded once again by Jesus. This time He won’t come as a little child, but as the conquering King of Kings! Hallelujah!

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 25:1-3

Worship God: Honor the King

1) These are more proverbs of Solomon, copied 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.

Here begins the third major division of the book of Proverbs, copied out by the men of Hezekiah, who reigned from 715 to 687 B.C. Note, God honors not only Solomon, but also his publisher and his employees. There is nothing done in service to God that is too small to escape notice and reward. Remember that the next time you change a dirty diaper in the nursery on Lord’s Day morning or set up chairs for a Sunday school class. in fact, everything we do for God’s honor and glory is deserving of reward. No difference exists between the secular and the sacred.

God and kings are contrasted. God conceals Himself from us just as He concealed His face from Moses and the Israelites (Exodus 33:20-23). God reveals Himself partially in His creation, in His Word, and in Christ. “Now we see in a glass darkly,” Paul writes, “but then face to face(1 Corinthians 13:12). Our understanding of God is limited by our finite humanness, our sinfulness, and God’s own timing.

Earthly kings are God’s representatives for law and order. Where God reveals and conceals, kings search. For example, they search for the truth to make right judgments and for good people to serve them. Ironside likens them to believers (p. 346). We, too, are God’s representatives. We, too, search for truth.

Scriptural Examples

Manoah and wife. Samson’s parents asked the angel of the Lord His name. He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” Likewise, God is unsearchable (Judges 13:17-18).

Solomon. He is a fine example of a king who sought the truth. With two prostitutes and a baby, he displayed wise creativity in getting to the heart of the dispute (1 Kings 3:16-28).

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for revealing Yourself to us in Your Word, by Christ and through the Spirit’s illumination. Help me to learn of You, to the end that I will reflect Your Son.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 25: Introduction

Proverbs and the Tongue

The tongue is another central theme of the book of Proverbs. James has much to say about our speech in the New Testament. He says that “the tongue…is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell(James 3:6). Proverbs also warns of the traps set by our tongues. Here in chapter 25, verses 6-25 we see prideful tongues (v. 6), hasty tongues (v. 8), gossiping tongues (vv. 9-10), boastful tongues (v. 14), lying tongues (v. 18), inappropriate tongues (v. 20), sly tongues (v. 23), and quarrelsome tongues (v. 24). But we also see a measure of righteousness in the use of the tongue.

Verse 11 speaks of “a word aptly spoken” being “like apples of gold in settings of silver.” The next verse tells us of the high value of the wise man’s rebuke. Verse 13 exalts the “trustworthy messenger” who uses his tongue to “refresh…the spirit of his masters.” We see the power of the gentle tongue in verse 15. Finally, the tongue that carries “good news from a distant land” is compared to “cold water to a weary soul” in verse 25.

The tongue may be used for evil or for good. God exalts the use of the tongue for righteousness sake but condemns the sinful words that so easily spring off of it.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley