Although contrary to man’s nature, when it comes to addressing an enemy God’s people are to exercise grace and show compassion. Christ taught His disciples, “whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). Solomon taught his son this same principle of grace and compassion in Proverbs 25:21-22.
Proverbs 25:21-22 – “If thine enemy [foe; one who hates you] be hungry [famished], give him bread [food; meat] to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap [pick or take up] coals of fire [red glowing, burning embers] upon his head, and the LORD shall reward [pay; recompense; restore; give peace] thee.”
Two necessities of physical life are stated here: “bread” [meaning bread, food, meat] and “water”. Although a man is your enemy, extending compassion to him in his hour of need may soften his heart or at least shame him from ever treating you rudely again. Whether your enemy repents or not is not the foremost concern; it is that the Lord promises your act of grace will be rewarded! The apostle Paul instructed the persecuted Christians in Rome regarding the same principle and challenged them, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Proverbs 25:23 – “The north wind driveth away [brings forth] rain: so doth an angry [indignant; defy; enraged] countenance [face] a backbiting [covert; disguised] tongue [language; babbler; evil speaker].”
Rain in Israel usually comes from the south; however, a north wind has the opposite effect, driving rain clouds away. This simple illustration teaches another lesson—an angry countenance might well drive away an hypocritical, gossiping tongue. Here is a good lesson for the church and leadership in general: Address a busybody blabbermouth swiftly and decisively and you may silence or drive out the gossip!
Proverbs 25:24 – “It is better [good; well; favorable] to dwell [sit; inhabit; remain] in the corner [tower] of the housetop [roof], than with a brawling [contentious; strife] woman [wife] and in a wide [company; association; i.e. sharing a house] house.” [note – Prov. 21:9]
Having written concerning this same proverb in an earlier devotion from Proverbs 21:9, let it be said that a house is not big enough for a man living with a cantankerous, contentious wife. Such a woman makes a hot summer rooftop seem like paradise.
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith