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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 25:9-14 golden apples

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, May 28, 2019

9 Argue your case with your neighbor,
  but do not betray another man’s secret;
10 or else whoever hears you will shame you,
  and your bad reputation will have no end.

Be direct, but discreet. The first line of verse 9 is a healthy attitude toward confrontation. This is especially true if your neighbor has sinned. Jesus said: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over” (Matthew 18:15). This is discipline within the family of believers the way that it should be, so that there can be repentance and forgiveness.

The rest of this proverb, 25:9b-10, is a warning from the Eighth Commandment. Just because you know some truth about someone doesn’t mean that you can just broadcast that truth everywhere. Almost everyone has something that they would like kept private, at least in the immediate future. If you break their trust, no one will trust you anymore.

11 Like golden apples in a silver setting
  is a word spoken at just the right moment.
12 Like a gold ring or golden jewelry
  is a wise man’s rebuke to an attentive ear.

The true fruit of wisdom is the subject of Proverbs 8:19: “My fruit is better than fine gold, what I yield surpasses choice silver.” Exactly what a “golden apple” might have been is uncertain. Clearly it as an ornament, but it probably wasn’t three-dimensional, or at least not life-size. But as a design, it might have been something that was reproduced with a very pleasant effect, such as the decoration around the High Priest’s robe in Exodus 28:33 or the pomegranates in rows around the capitals of the pillars in the temple (1 Kings 7:18; cp. the duplicate in Egypt in Jeremiah 52:22-23).

Whether a word is kind, or timely, or even a rebuke, if it is the truth it can be useful and pleasant to the hearer. A preacher who is difficult to understand because of the way he enunciates will not be helped by a better sound system as much as he will be helped by an honest comment, spoken in love, from the members of his church. This is even more true of sin that is exposed. Let a friend come and show me my fault so that even our friendship will play a role, and I will desire to change for the sake of Christ.

13 Like the cold of snow at harvest time
  is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
  he recovers his master’s spirit.

14 Like clouds and wind but no rain
  is a man who boasts of a gift that he never gives.

These two proverbs contrast two messengers. The first is like snowfall in the desert at harvest time; just when you need a little cool weather, it comes (remember that Israel and Minnesota are similar in size but not at all similar in climate). Reliable communication is vital to the success and effectiveness of any government. A faithful messenger is a blessing that lasts and lasts. The words “recovers his master’s spirit” are similar to the words of Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul.”

From the faithful messenger we turn our attention to the windbag braggart. He is like the wicked son Jesus describes, the one asked by his father to go work in the vineyard, and who said, “Yes,” but who never went (Matthew 21:28). This is precisely where Jude got his illustration for false teachers: “Shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind…” (Jude 12). What makes them worse than useless is that people waste their time depending on such men, with nothing to show for it.

Praise God for faithful messengers, even those who bring truth that may sting a little. Jesus’ words often cut us to the quick, but without his words we would not know how sinful we are, and we would not realize just how near to damnation we were. But thanks be to God! He has snatched us from the fire (Jude 23) and brushed the stench of sulfur from our shoulders and feet. He has made us clean and pure, and he has given to us everlasting life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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