Proverbs 25:15-20

Proverbs 25:15‑20  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Next we are reminded of the great profit in a patient spirit and a gentle tongue, even with men of high authority.
“By long forbearing is a ruler persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be surfeited therewith, and vomit it.
Let thy foot be seldom in thy neighbor's house, lest he be full of thee and hate thee.
A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor [is] a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is a broken tooth and a foot out of joint.
One that taketh off a garment in cold weather, vinegar on niter, so is he that singeth songs to a sad heart” (vers. 15-20).
That a ruler should be hard to move from his resolve one easily understands. Yet by long forbearing he is persuaded, where opposition would only fix his will. More generally still a soft tongue breaks the bone. Though proverbially, as men say, Hard words break no bones, gentle ones bend and break the strongest.
Sweetness is not all: one may have too much of it. A little honey is excellent; but if you have found it, eat enough and no more, lest you prove it an untoward feast, and sickness ensues, disagreeable to others no less than to yourself. But honey or natural sweetness must not enter an offering to the Lord. In divine things seasoning with salt is essential, not sweetening to suit the natural palate.
Neighborly kindness becomes us and promotes goodwill. But here again danger lurks, if one overdo. It is apt to degenerate into a thoughtless or a meddlesome habit; and instead of love hatred ensues. We must not give occasion, especially to those that seek it.
But false witness against a neighbor is quite another thing, and extremely heinous. He that bears it is here said to be mischievous in ever so many different ways: a maul to crush, a sword to pierce when the object is at hand, and an arrow to wound at a distance.
Confidence in an unfaithful man is a fault altogether opposed, especially if it be in time of trouble, when you reckon on the support you had vainly expected. It fails your spirit as a broken tooth does the mouth, or a foot out of joint the body.
Then again, what is it to remove a wrap in cold weather? does it not aggravate the chill? as vinegar acts on niter, not to smooth but to irritate. So are both like him “that singeth songs to a sad heart.” Prayer is seasonable for the afflicted, sympathy is suited; but singing songs is for the merry, not the sad. Mirth and its outflow must jar, as being wholly incongruous.