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Proverbs 25

More Proverbs of Solomon (25:1–28)

Verses 16–17: Anything taken to excess can become distasteful; moderation leads to the fullest enjoyment of life’s blessings. This principle applies to our own presence as well: it’s possible for our neighbor to see too much of us! We must not “wear out our welcome.”

Verse 20: One who sings songs to a heavy heart lacks sensitivity. Insensitive people cause discomfort to others; they can be irritating—like vinegar poured on soda. We need to develop the qualities of sensitivity and empathy; we need to learn to put ourselves “in other people’s shoes.”

Verses 21–22: These verses teach us how to overcome evil with good; Paul quotes them in Romans 12:20. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43–44); Moses told us to be kind to them (Exodus 23:4–5). When we are kind to our enemy, we heap burning coals on his head—that is, we cause him to “burn with shame” over the wrong he has done us. Our kindness may lead him to repent of his wrong and even become our friend. However, the “burning coals” can also symbolize God’s judgment; if our enemy does not repent, our kindness to him makes his offense worse by contrast and his judgment more severe. Regardless of our enemy’s response, the Lord will reward us for the kindness we have shown him.

Verse 23: This saying teaches that just as a north wind brings rain (in the Middle East), so a sly (crafty, scheming) tongue brings angry looks; the results are predictable.

Verse 26: It is bad enough when a simple person gives way to the wicked; it’s even worse when a righteous person does so. That righteous person is like a pure water source that has become muddied or polluted.

Verse 27: This verse describes two things a wise or moderate person should not do: overindulge (verses 16–17), and seek honor (verses 6–7).

Verse 28: It is easier to take a city than to control one’s self (see Proverbs 16:32); self-control is essential to our fruitfulness as Christians. Without self-control we are defenseless against our passions; we are like a city with broken walls. Some people seem to have natural self-control, but it is never complete; controlling one’s self means controlling not only words and actions but also thoughts and feelings—something much more difficult. In fact, we need the Holy Spirit’s help; self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Without the Spirit, we can’t live out these proverbs; without the Spirit, we can’t lead a Christian life.

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