An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression. Proverbs 29:22
A man who flares his nostrils and who is easily filled with passionate anger about things is not going to be a godly or wise man. That is what today's proverb teaches us. Let's look at how anger that is not controlled by the Spirit of God can be a very dangerous thing in our lives.
The "angry man" in this proverb is one who often flares his nostrils. That picture to the Hebrew was a picture of a man who often became angry. We read that this is not wise because such a man often stirs up strife. His easily angered temperment will be the source of much fighting. He will not be long suffering and patient. He will grumble and complain thereby stirring up strife and anger in others. This will lead to a situaiton where he seems to be constantly surrounded by others who are angry - or who have grievances against the ones he is angry with as well. There will be a controversy swirling about him that never seems to die down. Problems and broken relationships will be all around him as the proverbial pot is always being stirred.
This man is likened to a "hot-tempered" man. His temperment is set so that it will boil over very easily. He becomes angry quickly - and that anger will lead to arguments and problems often. Contrary to this is the man surrendered to the Holy Spirit whose fruit is peace, patience, gentleness - and - self-control. Slights and problems roll off the Spirit filled man like water off a duck's back. He is a peacemaker and as such is known as one of the sons of God.
King Saul had these bad traits in his life. He perceived a slight when the women sang that He had slain thousands and David ten thousands. Jealousy and envy bred anger in King Saul that boiled over in many angry and hot-tempered acts. He was well known for dealing with his anger not by patience and long-suffering, but by throwing spears. He threw them at David because of his jealousy. He threw them because he did not want to deal with his own sin - and came to hate David for how God was with him. He eventually threw them at his own son because he dared love and protect David. His hot-tempered ways led him to kill all the priests in the city of Nob becasue he raged against the priest seeking The Lord on David's behalf. His uncontrolled anger led him away from God and into abounding levels of transgression and sin. That is what our proverb warns against today. We are warned that an uncontrolled temper let loose in fits of anger will land us in an abundance of sin. If we are not careful we will wind up like Saul whom God would not answer - and whom God removed because of his sin.
Patience is a virtue. It is a godly thing to be able to handle a slight - an insult - a perceived put down - and act graciously and godly - without a descent into a fit of anger. A wise man knows that it is not the estimation of men that matters - but the Word of God. Be careful therefore to learn graciousness, kindness, and the ability to be slow to anger. That is the heart of our God - and when we are filled with His Spirit and instructed by His Word - our's as well.
Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death, So is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, "Was I not joking?" Proverbs 26:18-19
I like to call this the, "Practical Jokes" proverb. That is because it describes what can happen when practical joking gets out of hand. Unfortunately, I've watched a few of these in my day and they can get ugly in a hurry.
The proverb speaks to us of a certain madman. This guy is out of control. He is throwing three things in his insanity. The first is firebrands - which are akin to something like a flaming arrow. This crazy guy is also shooting regular arrows. The third thing he is dealing in is death. The first two are easy to understand, but this last one is a little more cryptic. I see the final thing in light of what happens due to the deception. He is throwing around these things that hurt physically - but he is also throwing something that hurts emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. He is throwing "death" - he is killing relationships and injuring people so that they are dead to him emotionally. His actions are hurting things and killing someone's ability to be around him - interact with him - and receive anything from him. So we see three pretty rough things going on here. All three are destructive and can cause great harm. The interesting thing is that since he is a madman - his aim may not be the best. From how this is stated, it seems as if a rather random pattern is being followed in how these things are being shot and thrown. Thus he will not hit everyone, but when he does, it is going to hurt badly. It might even kill someone. What could this be describing? Let's look, because the answer is given in verse 19.
Verse 19 tells us that the comparison is to a man who deceives his neighbor - then tells him he was only joking. First of all we need to see that this man does these things to his neighbor. The term here implies more than just a casual relationship. Some passages imply a relationship as close as a close friend or even a lover. What he is doing to his neighbor is that he is "deceiving" him. The word here is "ramah" and it means to intentionally deal craftily with someone. Other ways it is used is to indicate lies, betrayal, crass jokes, and even pulling a trick on someone. That is definitely the case here in Proverbs 26:18-19. What is going on is that a trick or a crass joke is being played on a person by his neighbor, which is pretty much the definition of a practical joke.
If we did not know the nature of this proverb through the word "ramah" - things become much clearer as we see that after this man deceives his neighbor - he eventually lets him know about it by saying, "Was I not joking?" There it is - a practical joke, pure and simple. But why is this such a strong statement? Is God adamantly opposed to all practical jokes? From what I read here I cannot say one way or the other. This is just a warning about consequences.
A day is coming when the practical joker is going to play a joke on someone and it is going to blow up in his face. He is like that madman randomly shooting arrows. Most will fall relatively harmless to the ground. They won't hit any real target. But every once in a while he will strike something - actually someone. When that happens - problems are coming. In some cases real harm comes to someone in a practical joke. Somebody gets physically hurt - and at times it is a bad injury. In other situations the pain is much worse - because it is emotional and relational. I've actually watched relationships broken forever or for a long time because of a practical joke gone bad. These are very sad things to watch because the joke was meant to be funny (at least to the one doing it - and to everyone watching the person humiliated). But at times the humiliation breeds anger. That is why God warns us about it.
In all honesty - when I consider that most practical jokes are done to humiliate someone - or at least to laugh at their expense - I think that a wise man should probably avoid them. He knows that such an action may result in an offended brother. And from other proverbs he knows that if this happens that brother will be very hard to win back. That is why the wise man decides against such actions. But before you think I am a 'stick in the mud' on this issue - you should know that I have been the mark of many practical jokes. How do I respond them? I laugh with those who did them . . . sometimes threaten retaliation . . . and usually end up forgetting them and thinking, "You got me good!" It is good to have a sense of humor - and an ability to laugh at yourself. Just remember that some won't - and when that happens - it's going to be bad - very bad.
He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. Proverbs 26:27
This is not a proverb that explains why bad things happen to Wylie Coyote - even though at first glance it might. It is actually about those who plan to do evil to others. Those who set traps to catch others and have bad things happen to them are warned in this proverb that what they do will eventually happen to them. Let's take a look at what this means - and also see an example or two.
Those who dig a pit do so to catch someone in it. In biblical times people would dig pits and cover them for the purpose of catching more than just animals who would fall into them. These pits would be dug and covered with camouflage as well as wetted down on the sides so that whoever was caught in them would not have opportunity to escape. Those who caught the person would then either take them captive as a slave - or kill the one who fell into the pit. The reason a stone would be rolled is to be put on a steep hill so that it could then be rolled down to kill or badly injure someone who was coming through the valley. This was a tactic of thieves who wanted to steal what travellers would have as they went through valleys and along roads that were next to hilly or mountainous areas. The idea with a pit or with a stone was to injure or kill someone for evil purposes.
God warns that those who do such things will fall into a pit themselves. God also warns that the stone that is rolled with come back on them. This is not a reference to an actual pit or an actual stone rolling on them - but was a warning that God was going to hold them responsible for their wicked actions. A good example of this would be the story of Joseph and his brothers. The brothers threw Joseph into a pit with the original intention of killing him because of their jealous hatred of him. Joseph and his stinking varicolored coat reminded them every day that their father loved him more than them - so why not teach the little runt a lesson. Of course killing your brother is a little intense. In the end they decided just to sell him into lifelong slavery (their sibling rivalry was way more intense that what I remember with my brothers). They covered their tracks by dipping the hated coat in blood and telling their father that a wild animal killed Joseph. But the pit they dug - and the rock they rolled was going to come back on them one day.
The first "pit-experience" was when their father almost died from grief. Then there was the famine that came and caused them to have to go to Egypt where they had to ask for food from . . . wait for it . . . their snotty little brother who was now the second ruler of Egypt. What was very good for them was that their brother had far more mercy on them in their pit that they had on him when he was in theirs. They had rolled their stone on him - but he refused to roll his on them. He chose forgiveness rather than revenge.
The varied pits that you can fall into are as numerous as the ones you dig for others. It is amazing as I grow older to see all the various pits that people have fallen into after they've dug ones for someone else. It is a fact of life that what goes around comes around. That is the simple, one-sentence way to define this particular proverb. I just hope that we all remember that the next time we grab our shovels and start digging for someone else.
It is better to live in a corner of the roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman. Proverbs 25:24
I find it interesting that a man who had hundreds of wives - felt the need to comment identically on the contentious and quarrelsome ones. This is almost an exact repeat of a previous proverb in chapter 21, verse 9. What Solomon has to say about this is pretty severe.
To live on a corner of a roof would be very uncomfortable in Israel. The houses of that time had flat roofs - and Scripture required them to build a wall around the top so that people would not fall off of them. Often they would have a set of stairs on the side of the home that led to the top of the house. But to live there would be very uncomfortable. In the summer months the roof would be unbearably hot with the sun beating down upon the poor man's brow. In the winter, or the rainy season, it would be wet and cold there. Yet Solomon states that this would be better than to be in even a palace with a contentious woman.
It might be good for us to see what a "contentious" woman looks like - or better acts like. The word used here is "madon" and its basic meaning is strife or dissension. It refers to a quarrel or dispute that is so filled with anger and bitterness that it cannot be stopped once it starts. That is why Proverbs 17:14 counsels us to abandon such a disupute before it breaks out. But the contetious woman knows no such self-restraint. Her pride and unwillingness to submit to God results in her not only entering into disputes - but even engineering and starting them. This same word is used in Proverbs 18:19 to speak of how strife creates strong barriers between people. The contentious woman doesn't care about this because her heart is already bitter and filled with resentment. Rather than avoid conflicts that result in relational barriers - she fights from hers and builds it higher. A few other verses that use this word indicate to us the following: 1) This kind of contention spreads to other people (Proverbs 6:14, 19), 2) it comes from someone who is hot-tempered and given to fits of anger (Proverbs 15:18), and 3) it is stirred by hatred which is lodged in this woman's heart - which is why she rejects loving, selfless responses and chooses her rage instead (PRoverbs 10:12). What an terrible picture is painted of this contentious woman who loves and embraces anger, bitterness, and loveless rage.
Now you might understand why this guy wants to live on the edge of his roof. He chooses this rather than to be in a house with this lady. Life is miserable for him - and he would choose misery among the elements than even a few moments with this train-wreck of a woman. But, honestly for Solomon, such a situation wasn't exactly prevented by having so many wives and so many concubines. Living among that many women vying for the affection of one very selfish, sexually out of control man, could not have been a picnic. This is why the second reference to this circumstance should be used for wisdom in two ways for us. First - be careful not to marry a bitter woman who overflows with resentment and anger. Second - don't create one either by being a man who is unwise in how he approaches the marriage covenant. Be faithful to one woman in your lifetime. And love her in such a way that she will not ever have the problem of being a contentious wife.
It is better to live in a desert land Than with a contentious and vexing woman. Proverbs 21:19
Here we have a proverb about making a wise choice of our mate - or more specifically the wise choice of the right kind of wife. We see two words used to describe the wrong kind of woman, as well as one phrase used to describe what we will want to do if we choose one like this.
The first word used to describe a woman to avoid is the word contentious. This is the Hebrew word "madon" and it means one who is filled with strife and contention. This is a person always ready for a quarrel or dispute. These things come from a heart that is not right with God and a temper that is not under control. The man who marries such a woman will find that this contention, quarrelling, and strife will fill his home. There will always seem to be a problem - and that problem will lead to arguments and strong contentions. The home itself will not be a refuge - but a fight club.
The second word used here is the word vexing. This is the Hebrew word "kaas" which means vexation. This is a word we seldom use any longer - but it means to provoke someone to anger. The wrong kind of wife is one who herself is angry - and who seems to have as a goal provoking everyone else to anger as well. She is ready for a fight, which we get from the previous word - and she delights in being angry. What a difficult life this would lead to for the man who marries such a woman.
God then warns us what will happen if we marry such a woman. We will not enjoy living in our home. In fact we would choose to live in the wilderness than stay there. The stated New Testament purpose for a godly woman is to create a good home in which her husband and children can live. But when a woman is angry, bitter, and itching for a fight, such a home will not be possible. Her husband and family will prefer living in an inhospitible wilderness than that house - because the wilderness would seem far more hospitable than being with that woman in that house.
What a warning to us to choose our mates wisely. It is also a warning to go beyond how a woman looks to how well kept her heart is. Beauty will pass - and the vanity of looks will one day give way to the attractiveness of one's heart. In that day a man will know that it was a wise thing that he sought first a woman who feared God than a woman who was a physical beauty alone. Beauty is skin deep - but the ugliness of a wicked heart will torture for a lifetime.
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a citadel. Proverbs 18:19
Here is a proverb that is not difficult to understand, nor is it hard for us to see the ramifications of it in our everyday lives. We've all been in a situation where either we have offended someone, or we've been the offended party. We also all know how difficult it can be to remedy those situations. Therefore today's proverb just helps us see it in a word picture that is very descriptive and instructional.
The brother who is offended is harder to be won back to us than a strong city. The literal Hebrew here of the "strong city" is a walled city. To understand this we have to go back to days before there were air forces or artillery shells that could level a wall or a house. In those days a high, strong wall around a city was a formidible defense. When an army went within such a walled city, it was going to be very difficult to defeat them. The victorious strategy in these circumstances would involve a long seige of the city. It would involve starving the people until their ability to resist would be broken. It would also involve a final assault on the wall and the gates where they would be broken through - then the victory was assured. But such a seige might take months - and some of the more famous ones took even longer than a year. Therefore, when a brother is offended - he becomes like that walled city to our attempts to gain his trust and friendship again. That is why Proverbs 17:14
warns us that the beginning of a quarrel is like breaching a dam - therefore abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. Abandon your offensive actions and words - because if they come to the point of greatly offending someone, it will be very difficult to remedy the situation.
The second statement speaks of the bars of a citadel. The citadel was the place, usually at the center of the city where a large fortified tower was. It usually was high and barred. It had large stores of food and weapons for a last stand. If all else failed, the last people of the city would go here to try to make a last ditch stand against those who had breached the walls of the city. It was usually the place they would go to fight to the death - to the very last man.
Here is the picture shown to us about offending a brother. It is the one that warns us against having contentions, fights if you will, with a brother. Thus, we have MORE than just high walls to scale to overcome the problem of our brother being offended. We have to deal with the fact that even after we've breached the walls - they may retreat to the citadel to resist us to the bitter end. What a reminded to do all we can to be kind and gentle, loving and gracious, and patient and longsuffering in our dealings with our brothers. Too many don't practice such things and wind up seriously offending someone with their words or their actions. They don't think about the back end of such actions and choices. They don't consider how difficult this is going to be to fix. They don't see the walls being erected and the citadel of the heart being fortified against them. They are blind to all this - and blunder on in their offensive statements and actions. They are not wise in quickly diffusing arguments and abandoning quarrels. The sad result is broken relationships and long term bitterness in their familiies and with former friends.
Be wise, dear brothers and sisters, and see the value of being gracious and kind when you face a difficult relational situation. See the value of a long-term relationship with the other person rather than just wanting to win that particular argument. Realize that confrontation - even biblical, godly confrontation is something that needs to be approached in love - speaking in love - and acting in love. That may require hard words - but it seeks to avoid hard feelings. It helps us to enter into the problem with our eyes wide open not just to what we want solved, but even more importantly to the person with whom we want to solve them. We never need to forget that we work with people and want them to know two things more than anythinig else. Those two things are that God loves them and that no matter what the problem is - the answer ultimately will involve God's grace. With this is mind we need to respond both lovingly and graciously in all we say and do. That way we won't have to face a lengthy love siege in order to win back our brother.