Friday, August 14, 2009

Proverbs 25: 21-28

21If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22For you will heap burning coals on his head,
And the LORD will reward you.
23The north wind brings forth rain,
And a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance.
24It is better to live in a corner of the roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
25Like cold water to a weary soul,
So is good news from a distant land.
26Like a trampled spring and a polluted well
Is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
27It is not good to eat much honey,
Nor is it glory to search out one's own glory.
28Like a city that is broken into and without walls
Is a man who has no control over his spirit.

Today's Thought Question:
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

Truthfully, I would have liked to revisit verse 22. Somewhere in my Bible study "archives" I have notes about "burning coals." But, I do not have those handy at the moment. Perhaps there will be another time to visit that phrase before we close.

So, instead, Verse 26: "Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked."

Pulling up the Amplified Bible's translation as well for this post:

"Like a muddied fountain and a polluted spring is a righteous man who yields, falls down, and compromises his integrity before the wicked."

This takes Solomon's well-developed concept of the wellspring, our heart, and takes it in a slightly different direction. We have looked at many verses talking about what is yielded from the wellspring--our speech and actions. When our heart does not take in wisdom, then we cannot hope yield any form of goodness becoming of the Lord.

But, what happens when our wellspring has been spilling over the fruit of the spirit and we have demonstrated our Godly wisdom before men, and then we meet the evil that breaks through all that?

We may have seen this scenario play out in others--maybe even in ourselves. We see, and mistakenly say, "good people gone bad," don't we? But something has clearly changed, or should I say something has clearly "muddied." How does that happen?

There's a lot in this couplet. "...A righteous man who yields, falls down, and compromises his integrity." Our fountains don't go from pure to polluted in an instant. First, there is a yielding. There is a giving way of what we believe. We become influenced by something or someone. It's like someone took a hammer and started chipping away at our spiritual foundation.

Then, we experience a "falling down." To fall, we need to be tripped up by something--a big barrier someone thrusts in our path that we can't get over or get around. If we're already dealing with a cracking, crumbling foundation and then we have to get around a road block, we're not going to do well. We are weakened. We'd just assume fall in a heap before the curb!

"Compromising" comes when our help shows us a way to deal with the barrier, except our help is with a small "h" and doesn't lead us to safety, security, protection and love but to an enticingly new way known as "wicked." The weakened state of our hearts, wisdom stained, causes us to look elsewhere for saving. It's a difficult picture to imagine and yet....there it is!

Let us embrace not the first glance, word, thought or deed of the wicked, but turn to our only Help, that our wellspring might remain pure, and that the living water of Christ be ever-flowing!

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.... There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day."

--Psalm 46: 1, 4 & 5


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 26: 1-12 (of the transcribed proverbs of Solomon)
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

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Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).


T. Anne said...

25 , I felt the impact upon reading it. I'm so ready for a cool spiritual drink. I'm thirsty for good news in every part of my life.

Kelly Combs said...

Burning coals. I once thought this was an example of killing with kindness. But someone once told me that the burning coals are actually a reference to...wait for it...real burning coals.

Fire was EVERYTHING to that culture. Warmth, cooking, hot water for washing, everything. If someone lost their fire, they were in danger. So even if your worst enemy asked you for fire, you gave it to them, because you knew it was life & death.

I don't know if this is true, or just someone's opinion & commentary. But that is what I heard.

Carmen said...

How vibrantly you've pictured giving way. You're right, it is a process. One we may not even recognize is happening right away. How we need to keep close to the Lord and discern those little things that compromise our foundations.

As a dutch woman, I don't want to be found having to put my finger in the dike of my integrity!

Edie said...

I have heard a few different things about the burning coals and each carry weight I believe. One is that by doing good to your enemy it brings shame on them that may lead to repentance.

Sue J. said...

Oh, gals, I really promise to dig up what I can on the burning coals, because it's important to remember. That may even have to be a post-study post!

The one image of a burning coal that I always remember is the one touched to the lips of Isaiah when he found himself in the presence of the Lord and said, I am a man of unclean lips. And an angel touched his lips with a burning coal.

And in his joyous response, Isaiah says "Here I am, Lord. Send me!"

But, the reference to heaping burning coals on someone's head is more specific, I think. Promise to get to this, and I'll put a note in the blog margin when I've done that.

Thanks for your great responses and interactivity today! And, Carmen, that's quite a metaphor you've set up for yourself!!