-Chapter 25 begins the last section of the book, which is designed to equip leaders for their roles. These are proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah some 250 or so years
post Solomon, transcribed for our education and wisdom under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. The first order of business was to make sure that people knew it was the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings (rulers, those in authority) to search out a matter for understanding and application. The king’s heart is unsearchable, just like the height of the heavens and the depths of the earth. Take away the dross from the silver and guess what? There comes out a vessel for the smith. In the same manner, if the wicked are taken away from before the king, his throne will be established in righteousness. One should never claim honor in the presence of a king, nor should they take their stand in the place of great men. It is better if one is asked to, “Come up here” in the presence of great men than to be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom can be seen (Proverbs 25:1-7).
-Don’t be in a rush to argue your case. You could absolutely be in danger, in the end, of being put to shame by your neighbor. Carefully consider your actions in other words when you have a dispute. Further, as leaders, one should argue directly with your neighbor, not gossiping or revealing secrets to those whom the matter doesn’t concern. The hearers of these revelations will eventually reproach you, and the evil report about you will not pass away. Another way of putting it, be careful to guard your reputation as a leader. It is important, and people tend to take a negative view of you once they hear something painted in a dark way (Proverbs 25:8-10).
-Now, some more positive stuff. A word spoken in the right way at the right time is like “apples of gold in settings of silver.” A wise reprover to a listening ear is compared to “an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold.” A faithful messenger to those who send him refreshes the souls of his masters like “the cold of snow in the time of harvest (Proverbs 25:11-13).”
-But, a man who boasts of his gifts falsely, or shall we say pretense, is like “clouds and wind without rain.” Great expectations, no delivering (2 Peter 2:17-19). “By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.” In our language, stick with those over you and be loyal as you try to get your way. Keep your cool and stay self-controlled. In addition, eat only what you need. The writer uses the example of honey. Excess makes one sick. Another admonition warns not to be in your neighbor’s house too much, lest they become weary of you and hate you. A man who lies about his neighbor is compared to a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow. Having confidence in a faithless man in the time of trouble is like having a bad tooth (we who’ve had this experience know the torment in that) or an unsteady foot that can’t support the weight. Like one who takes a coat off on a very cold day (senseless idea, a glutton for punishment) or vinegar on soda (an explosive reaction), is the person who makes light of a troubled heart of his/her neighbor by singing, or making merriment. A better idea is to give food to the hungry and water to the thirsty. Bless people and know how they want to be treated, even if they are your enemy. In so doing, the proverb says “you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you (Proverbs 25:14-22).
-Just like the north wind brings rain, a backbiting tongue brings an angry countenance. It is better to live in a small area in a corner of the roof, for example, than a huge house with a contentious woman. On a better note, good news from a distant land is like getting a drink of cold water for a weary soul. A righteous man who gives way before the wicked is basically trampling a spring of fresh water and polluting the well. In other words, be courageous against evil of all sorts. Honey returns as an example of contentment, this time relating to tooting your own horn, or searching out your own glory. Self-control issues conclude the chapter with this excellent statement, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit (Proverbs 25:23-28).”
-*Application* Self-controlled responses demonstrate boundaries and protection. Every ancient city needed walls to defense themselves from invaders that would come to kill, plunder, and pillage. It was a safety to have great walls in a city. When we lose control of our spirit and react in our flesh instead of being controlled by the Holy Spirit with good temperament, our defenses break down in the spiritual realm and literally all hell breaks loose. Self-control is an important fruit of the Holy Spirit, especially for leaders (Galatians 5:22-25). There are many great leadership principles for us to reflect on here in this chapter. Let’s meditate on as many as we can today.
Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 25:6-7, 21-22, 28