Summary: Prudent, accurate, honest, sensitive communication is a major theme threaded through Proverbs. This emphasis is mandated because words & actions are the way we relate to one another. Basically, we need to accentuate the positive & eliminate the negative.
PROVERBS 25: 11-18
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE
Prudent, accurate, honest, sensitive communication is a major theme threaded through Proverbs [e.g. chapters 15 and 18]. This emphasis is mandated because words and actions are the way we relate to one another. Basically, we need to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. As much as it helps to have positive commands, we often need negative commands since we naturally gravitate towards doing the wrong things.
[Words are the stock in trade of persons in places of responsibility. This does not mean that all who lead, teach, or supervise others must be skilled speakers [sons and daughters of Demosthenes]. It does mean, however, that the ability to instruct, explain, express feelings, convey encouragement or correction with clarity and grace is essential equipment for all who would excel in the privilege of managing others. Work anywhere, especially in the church, is done best by persons who understand the mission and their part in it. That mission and all that it takes to accomplish it can be explained only with words. [Hubbard, David. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol 15. Proverbs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1989, S. 405].
Many of the proverbs in this section are comparisons. The wise teachers lay out two similar concepts so that we might look at them and discern the connection between the two parts. It causes us to stop and think, to savor the wisdom given.
This literary form of comparisons in these proverbs not only urges effective speech from its students, it demonstrates it by a bouquet of effective metaphors and simile(s) (25:13). Particularly noticeable are comparisons using suggestive imagery colorfully drawn from nature. Golden apples (v. 11), the refreshing coolness of snow or cold water (v. 13), wind and rain (v. 14), all work to cast their content into especially memorable form with their crafted beauty.
Usually the figure of speech is laid next to the point it illustrates without any connecting word in the Hebrew text. The form itself pays tribute to the unity of life which God's creative activity had produced. God's created order and human experience are so orchestrated that, when appropriately understood, the one can illustrate the other.
Competence seems to be the unifying theme of this chain or cluster of comparisons (CIT).
I. SPEAK AND LISTEN APPROPRIATELY, 11-12.
II. SPEAK ACCURATELY AND HUMBLY, 13-14.
III. PERSUADE PATIENTLY, 15.
IV. AVOID EXCESSIVE SPEECH, 16-17.
IV. SPEAK TRUTHFULLY, 18.
Proverbs 25:11-12 uses jewelry to illustrate the use of an appropriate and properly timed word. Proverbs 25:11 teaches us the value appropriate or wise speech. "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."
Here we see the relationship between fine craftsmanship and a word fitly spoken. The gold and the silver can produce an item of beauty, but it needs a craftsman who takes time and talent to make it. A jewelry smith works with precious metals to cast fine jewelry. "Apples of gold" were the centerpiece of "settings" (lit., figures or images) cast in "silver."
The instructive line comes [second in the Hebrew] as an emphasis on the appropriateness and timeliness of our words. The value and beauty of a well-chosen, well-shaped "word" [or "decision"] is celebrated as though it were an exquisite art object. The right word is a delightful gift. This requires thought, wisdom, and skill. So pray and think about how you speak to others.
For many years the monetary system in the United States was based on the GOLD STANDARD, which meant that all currency issued had to be backed up by gold. Going off the gold standard in 1933 is said to have help propel the USA out of the great depression. [the government could then print all the money it wanted because it could no longer be redeemed for gold.] Since then it has paved the way for inflation and other problems for which we are still seeking solutions.
God's Word provides valuable guidelines that serve the same purpose for Christians that the gold standard did for the nation's monetary system. Many guidelines for the right use of the tongue are given in the Bible. Recognizing the value of both gold and "a word fitly spoken," the writer of Proverbs commented on their similarities.
Words can be used for good or for evil. Harsh words, once spoken, cannot be recalled. Helpful words, left unspoken, can mean wasted opportunity. Words of anger, criticism, gossip, or deceit can destroy relationships. Words that are kind, gentle, encouraging, or comforting can build friendships. Are you on God's "gold standard" when you speak or are you speaking the highly inflated words of wordiness?
Pray that God will help you to extend your influence and impact for Him by the words you speak.
Again in Proverbs 25:12 beautiful jewelry forms an illustration, this time of a wise reproof. "Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to an obedient ear."