Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.
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 temperament 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 situation 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 temperament 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 because 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 - ours as well.
Like one who takes a dog by the ears Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him. Proverbs 26:17
In order to learn this proverb in the way we will never forget, we should find a large, doberman - whom we do not know - and grab him by the ears and shake him a little. Yeah - don't think you'd want to do that either. Want to know why? Because you'd come out of that situation with one less hand (possibly two if you are slower).
I love when God uses pictures that are not only graphic - but pretty funny to consider. This sounds like a bad clip from "America's Funniest Videos." Nevertheless, it is great for those of us who have a bad tendency to get involved in "strife-filled" situations when we have no reason for doing so. There are just some of us who think it is our place to fix every situation where people are having problems.
Note several things about this person. First, he is simply "passing by" a situation that is ongoing. He has not been invited to enter it and offer counsel. He just feels that these two people who are fighting need his particular expertise and wisdom. Second, this is a situation "not belonging to him." That removes him even further from the picture - or at least it should. Third, he enjoys "meddling" in other people's business. Add all these things up and you get a recipe for "relational disaster stew!"
This is one of those proverbs that needs to be featured in the University of Duh. Anyone with a remote "lick of sense" knows better than to grab a dog by its ears. Do so and you will anger the dog - who will then bite your hand. Do it to the wrong dog and more than just your hand will be attacked. So also is the foolishness of someone who just will not stay out of other people's business. This particular fool won't stay out of other people's ANGRY business. The word "riybah" is used here - and it means strife, controversy, or contention. It speaks of a quarrel or dispute - which often involves open hostilities. Why would anyone want to step into something like that - when they don't even know the people all that well? To do so is stupid! But it seems that "stupid" here just cann't help himself or herself. They insert themselves into the conflict - and later are shocked when they walk away battered and bruised by the words or actions that they run into in the midst of it.
Stay out of other people's business! That is something my mother taught me. It has been a very wise saying - and one that I did not know at the time was biblical. Whenever I have obeyed her counsel I was blessed. But I've ignored it a few times . . . and I have the emotional dog bites to show for it!
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.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. Proverbs 17:14
Ever watch one of the movies where a small break in a dam takes place. You watch as the water is let out only in a trickle. The problem is that the pressure behind that trickle of water is tremendous. Soon the little place where the water is leaking cracks further under that pressure and becomes larger. More water is let out resulting in more pressure on that place. At some point there is a breaking point where the entire dam begins falling apart and the water begins careening out of the dam. Up until the point where the dam begins falling apart - there is an opportunity to stop the disaster. What is amazing is that when the earliest "letting out" of the water starts, the only real way of dealing with the problem is to release the water at the base of the dam and lessen the pressure on the breach in the dam. If this is not done - and the original crack is not repaired - the dam will eventually break and cause tremendous devastation. Now back to our Proverb today.
The beginning of strife is like the crack in the dam. This is not good because if left undealt with, it will make for a very serious 'breakout' of quarrelling. A fight is coming the longer that we do not deal with the very onset of strife in our hearts and minds. To leave it there is to embrace the coming quarrel and the problems it will engender.
The counsel God gives is to abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. That means that we should die to ourselves and to our desire to make our point. We should resist throwing a little guilt in someone's direction - or a little barb to get back a little for a slight we feel. We should abandon the wrong pursuit of this difficulty and instead, should allow the comment, the slight, the supposed or real insult, or just the grouchiness we feel to die as God takes it from us. Just one last thought though. If you have an entire dam of feelings and pent-up anger that is pressuring you to argue or quarrel, it would be wise to get with God to see what is at the root of your problem with this person. The reason I say this is that there are times when we truly do have issues that will require us to examine our hearts - examine our relationships with others - and draw down the water (i.e. the anger and resentment) that fills the dam so that the pressure to react and "let out" a dispute is lowered significantly. But in the meantime - just die to yourself and what you want to say. It is better to do that than to have the quarrel break out and with it have damage that is far worse to the relationship result.
When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest. Proverbs 29:9
This proverb I've affectionately named the "Bill Maher proverb." That is because he, along with many other social liberals invite one Christian to sit on a panel with him and 2-3 other liberals. As the program unfolds, this proverb is lived out over and over again. If the Christian is wise at all, he will begin to present biblical truth, and at that point the controversy, the rage, and the mockery begin. The poor Christian is usually shouted down in the midst of making any points - and the end of the matter is that he or she looks like the fool - which was the purpose of the whole exercise anyway. After watching this three or four different times, I came to the conclusion that any Bible-believing Christian who went on this, or other programs like it, was as much of a fool as the other fools sitting on the panel.
The nature of a foolish man is to mock the things of God. Therefore when a wise man begins to have a controversy or argument with a foolish man - he needs to know that reason or fair-minded debate will most likely not be involved in what is about to take place. This passage tells us that what will happen is that the foolish man will "rage" against the wise man. The word used for rage here is "ragaz" and it means to shake, tremble, be agitated, be disturbed, or be provoked. As soon as a fool hears the Word of God, he will come to the place where he will blow like a stick of dynamite. The fool recognizes no authority but his own. We read elsewhere in Proverbs that the fool only delights in airing his own opinions - and only respects his own thoughts. The idea of a God Who reveals to us absolute truth is an utter outrage to the fool. He is enraged at the thought of anyone claiming to have a truth that can stand in judgment over his ideas - as accurate and marvelous as they are. So when he hears a wise man (who is wise because he has learned to submit himself to what is revealed in Scripture) start to quote the Bible as an authority - BOOM! - he explodes in a rage against the wise man (yet actually he is enraged at God more than anyone else).
The other response from the fool is to laugh at God's principles and God's Word. This is basically done by mocking God. Bill Maher did it by doing the movie, "Religuous." Others have done it a myriad of different ways over the years. Interestingly enough, most of them are dead and have the horrendous problem of explaining to God why they felt such liberty to mock Him and His Word - which is what Mr. Maher will face also if he does not come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Regardless of how they go about mocking God, they do, and in the end there is no peace. There isn't any because the fool is not about to have the wise man come away from the encounter or controversy looking good at all.
A wise man recognizes when he is in a controversy with a fool. He recognizes it usually because the fool will not argue reasonably, but will quickly resort to mocking, name calling, and specious arguments. At that point the best thing a wise man can do is step away from the situation as quickly and as gracefully as he can. The encounter will not result in a peaceful resolution. Rage and mocking laughter will happen - but not peace. The best thing you can do for the foolish man is pray for him, love him, and not offer him the public platform to mock God. That is why the wise man will turn down the offer to appear on such programs - saving himself the breath, the time, and the humiliation that will come if he chooses unwisely to attend.
It is better to live in a corner of a roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman. Proverbs 21:9
There are days when I would rather not have this blog due to the nature of the subject matter present. Today is one of those days. This is only because I would rather spend a thousand days dealing with men and their biblical responsibilities and their sin, than spend one having to point out sin to ladies. Too often in our perverted world women are bashed on these matters with caracitures that are unflattering at best, and just plain mean at other times. So ladies, today I will try to hug as closely to the text as possible - only using biblical examples as I seek to explain this passage.
This proverb begins with a funny picture. We have a man sitting on the corner of his roof. He has decided that this is the better place for him to live. That seems very strange to us. Considering the exposure to the elements - and the sheer uncomfortable nature of living on just the corner of your roof - we are bewildered at this man's choice. What could be so bad that he would make such a choice? According to this proverb, it is the prospect of sharing his house with a contentious woman.
What is a "contentious" woman? The Hebrew word used here is "madon" and it refers to someone who is filled with strife and dissension. It speaks in Proverbs 17:14 of a quarrel or dispute that cannot be stopped once it starts - or in Proverbs 18:19 of arguments and contentiousness that create barriers between people. It is usually associated with an evil heart and with a bad temper. Other sins associated with this sin of contention are lying, perversity, and hatred. These are pretty bad sins - especially when you consider that this is someone with whom you live on a regular basis in life. The relationship one has with their wife should be the closest in life - but when a wife is acting this way - it makes life miserable.
This lady is miserable herself - and honestly - is making everyone else around her equally miserable. Rather than be a woman with a quiet and gentle spirit (as is counselled by Scripture) she is filled with anger, resentment, hatred, and because of these things - a contentious spirit that is ready at a moment's notice to enter into strife and voice her continual dissent. No wonder this guy is sitting on the corner of his rooftop - it is the only place he may be able to get a little peace and quiet.
Ladies, if you would indulge me for just a brief few moments, God desires you to be your husband's helper. This is the same term that is used to describe the Holy Spirit. You are called to come alongside your husband and cheer him on - calling him to be the man God wants him to be - and cheering loudly for him whenever he shows the slightest inkling toward that call. Let me let you ladies in on a secret. (All men need to stop reading at this point - and if you do - please do not bring up a vote to have my man-card revoked).
Ladies, your words are so very impotant to your husband. You may think he doesn't listen - but he hears every word you say. Whether he chooses to admit it or not - your words are more important to him than any other that are spoken during his day. When you cut him down and constantly criticize him - it does more damage than a thousand comments made by anyone else. The reason this guy is living on the corner of his rooftop - is because he is hurting so bad that any indignity or discomfort would be better for him. He hurts because rather than being encouraged by his wife - he is torn down. That is something that honestly cannot be fixed by anything other than you changing how you speak to him. Yes, I understand that often men are lazy and not exactly taking up the mantle to be God's man. Yes, I understand that you get frustrated waiting for him to be that man. Yes, I also understand that it is not fair for him to dump the spiritual leadership of your home on you. BUT . . . being contentious will not help matters at all. Men will react to this by retreating further from their God-given task. If you would praise him and encourage him when you see the slightest advance, you might be surprised at what begins to happen. Who knows, you might even see him pack up his stuff from the corner of the roof (or man-cave, or garage, or shop, or wherever he hides) and emotionally and spiritually move back into the home. All I know is that wisdom tells me that we get more flies with honey than with vinegar. That means a sweet and gentle spirit will yield far more from your man than being contentious and filled with strife.
A fool's lips bring strife, And his mouth calls for blows. A fool's mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul. Proverbs 18:6-7
Our mouth can be a source of blessing or our downfall. For the fool the latter is more the case. His mouth is a means of trouble, strife, and eventually ruin. Let's try to learn from him today and avoid the things that happens when a fool is speaking.
First we learn that a fool's lips bring strife. The idea here is that when a fool opens his lips to speak - along with his speaking comes strife. Evidently the fool is itching for a fight because that is what takes place after he speaks. His mouth calls for blows. The fool is the one who always has to have the last word - and that word is usually highly offensive to those who hear it. You watch the fool escalate his statements from offensive to provocative. He provokes those around him to the point where their anger is boiling over. He enrages people with the way he speaks - and the end of it all is blows - a fist fight. Rather than walk away from a growing tension, the fool throws gasoline on the fire and stokes it in every way he can. He does not have the ability to let an insult go - and just walk away. He has to one up the person who insulted him by offering an even greater insult. Actually, the fool usually is the one who starts all this - almost as if he or she is wanting the fight.
At the core of all this is pride. The fool is filled with it. As I said earlier he can never let something go. Anything said requires his provocative response. He loves contention and controversy. He loves quarrelling and disputes. He thrives on hostilities and his words invite them constantly. A wise man knows how to calm people with his responses. The fool only inflames them. No wonder that in the end we watch him punching and being punched as the fight erupts.
The next verse continues this thought. The fool's mouth is his ruin - and his lips are continually snaring his soul. The word ruin is the Hebrew word "mehittah" which means destruction, ruin, and terror. The root word for "mehittah" is "hatat" which means to be broken or afraid. The fool thinks he is bringing himself honor or at least respect when he won't take anything from anyone else. He thinks he is standing up for himself and that all others will know he is not someone with whom you want to tangle. But the opposite is true. His mouth is not bringing him respect, it is bringing him ruin. His mouth is a continuous source of terror for his life. He is constantly in danger because of his big mouth. He keeps opening it and getting himself in trouble. He says that he wants to stay out of trouble - at least that is what he tells the officer each new time he is arrested - at least that is what he says when he stands before the judge again and again - but his mouth is a snare for him. He speaks out for himself and in doing so sets another trap directly in front of himself to step into. We would consider a man the ultimate fool if he set a bear trap and then stepped into it - but that is what the fool does with his mouth all the time.
Let me offer an example from real life. We read of sports figures who are constantly getting in trouble. It seems that they go from one altercation to another - in and out of a courtroom as if they were walking through a revolving door. Why does this happen? A lot of it happens because they have the mouth of a fool - and they use it in the company of other fools. Where do they go regularly? They go to bars and clubs. What happens to them - they run into other fools whose minds are dulled by alcohol. When they do some fool (either one at the bar or they themselves) opens their mouth in typical drunken arrogant fashion. Feeling "dissed" they then "bow-up" in pride and let their foolish mouth run free. Of course when you get two drunken fools like this together the escalation is not only going to happen - it is going to happen quickly. More foolish words are exchanged as they trash talk one another and, you got it, a fight breaks out betwen them. In recent years we've added to the fist fights - fools who carry guns with them into bars and other places - and someone becomes angry enough to shoot someone else. Then we get the court case where any normal person would be send away for their crime - but in the case of the rich, spoiled athlete - some deal is cut to let him continue to entertain us with his physical prowess. We never think about the damage done to our children who unfortunately are taught to idolize these fools - and who follow in their footsteps.
Our mouths are incredibly powerful things. James says that our tongue's can set the course of our lives on fire - and that they can be set on fire by hell itself. That is why we need to learn things like humility, patience, and restraint. It is also why we need to be wise and to avoid the company of fools whose mouths continually snare their souls. Let your mouth be filled with the Word of God - with gracious and kind words - and with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let your mouth become the instrument that brings you blessing - not the tool which the devil, working unhindered through your flesh, uses to bring you to ruin.
Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel. Proverbs 20:3
Fighting, arguing, quarreling are addressed in this proverb for today. There are many who think that quarreling is fine - even a sign that a person will stick up for themselves. But according to this proverb - any fool will quarrel. The truly wise man is the one who keeps away from strife. He is the man who knows how to walk away from a fight. He knows when to keep his mouth shut - knowing that saying things at the wrong time can cause a situation to escalate quickly.
There are probably men and women who wind up in jail every weekend because they do not know how to walk away from a conflict. They wade into it - either speaking strife-causing statements or going further by swinging fists at someone else. This is a sure sign you are dealing with a fool. The fool thinks that he has to answer everything - he has to put down anyone who threatens him. Thus he is constantly arguing and fighting with others. This gains him great honor - the best seat in the jail cell or the most honored picture among the mug shots.
The honorable thing to do is to seek to keep away from strife. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that the peacemakers were the ones blessed - not those who can argue the best. It is not those who encourage and enter into strife that will bring peace - it is those who do their best to keep away from strife that fulfill this role. The truly wise man is the one who does not need to quarrel. He speaks the truth in love - he speaks it forcefully - but when things degenerate into strife and quarreling - he extricates himself from such a discussion quickly.
Quarreling has the idea of two people fighting over something to make it so. The believer does not have to enter into a quarrel because there is no need to quarrel over his point. When the believer speaks the truth - the Scriptures - he is standing on very firm - very solid ground. He has no need to quarrel over the matter. When the Word of God speaks something, it is the truth. One can argue against it - but all such arguing is pointless. God has spoken and thus the truth has been given. Those who want to quarrel over such matters actually weaken the biblical argument (if that were possible). Their quarreling only demonstrates that they think they have to win in the realm of human wisdom. The godly man - the wise man speaks God's Word and allows the authority of God Himself to bring it to bear on a man's heart. Thus the wise man can step away from a quarrel after speaking the truth. It is an honor for him to do so - and it shows he truly seeks to honor the Word of God.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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