Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
I. THE APT WORD. Compared to "golden apples in silver frames." Carved work adorning the ceilings of rooms is perhaps alluded to. The beauty of the groined sets off the worth of the object. Just so the good word is set off by the seasonableness of the moment of its utterance (1 Peter 4:11). The apt word is "a word upon wheels, not lotted or dragged, but rolling smoothly along like chariot wheels." Our Lord's discourses (e.g. on the bread and water of life) sprang naturally out of the course of passing conversation (John 4.; Luke 14.). So with Patti's famous discourse on Mars' Hill (Acts 17).
II. WISE CENSURE IN THE WILLING EAR IS COMPARED TO A GOLDEN EARRING. (Ver. 12.) For if all wisdom is precious as pure gold, and beautiful as ornaments m that material, to receive and wear with meekness in the memory and heart such counsels is better than any other decoration. "The wisest princes need not think it any diminution to their greatness or derogation to their sufficiency to rely upon counsel. God himself is not without, but hath made it one of the great names of his blessed Son, 'The Counsellor'" (Bacon). He who willingly gives heed to wise chastisement does a better service to his ears than if he adorned them with the finest gold and with genuine pearls.
III. A FAITHFUL MESSENGER IS COMPARED TO COOLING SNOW. (Ver. 13.) In the heat of harvest labour a draught of melted snow from Lebanon is like a "winter in summer" (Xen.,' Mem.,' 2:1, 30). A traveller says, "Snow so cold is brought down from Mount Lebanon that, mixed with wine, it renders ice itself cold." So refreshing is faithfulness in service. The true servant is not to be paid with gold.
IV. IDLE PRETENSIONS COMPARED TO CLOUDS AND WIND WITHOUT RAIN. (Ver. 14.) Promise without performance. Let men be what they would seem to be. "What has he done? is the Divine question which searches men and transpierces every false reputation.... Pretension may sit still, but cannot act. Pretension never feigned an act of real greatness. Pretension never wrote an 'Iliad,' nor drove back Xerxes, nor Christianized the world, nor abolished slavery."
V. THE POWER OF PATIENCE. (Ver. 15.) Time and patience are persuasive; a proverb compares them to an inaudible file. Here patience is viewed as a noiseless hammer, silently crushing resistance. "He who would break through a wall with his hand," says an old commentator, "will hardly succeed!" But how do gentleness and mildness win their way! "I Paul beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:1). - J.
By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
1. The nature of these fierce passions and this obduracy or hardness of temper, which are increased by opposition, and consequently must be abated by gentleness and yielding.
2. From the nature of lenity and gentleness, whose property it is to insinuate itself into the hardest things. It is compared with oil. How does this doctrine consist with the imprecations of Scripture? Explain that some of them, though pronounced optatively, are to be understood declaratively, as descriptive of the true state and condition of such parties. Those who used these imprecations were inspired for a particular purpose. They spoke in their zeal for God. It may be right to wish evil to come to persons for the sake of its disciplinary mission. How does this doctrine consist with the severe imprecations of Scripture? Our Saviour called the Pharisees "vipers," Herod a "fox." The apostle calls some people "dogs." To this it may be said, those who have an extraordinary power of discerning may use such hard terms. And those in public stations may thus severely chide and reprehend. How does this doctrine consist with the duties of zeal and reproving, which sometimes must be done with severity? A man may sometimes sin in not being angry. True "meekness of wisdom" directs a, man how to order his zeal and rebukes. Learn —
1. That if soft words be of such a prevailing efficacy, soft and gentle actions must be so too.
2. The folly and sinfulness of hard speeches, whereby others may be provoked to anger and offence.
3. The lawfulness and fitness of giving men the reverence and honour due to their proper titles.
4. Bitter and provoking words are unmanly, as being against the rules of morality and very un-Christian, as being against the precepts of the gospel.
(Bp. John Wilkins.)
I. THE MANIFESTATION of moral power. The words indicate a threefold manifestation.
1. Stillness. "By long forbearing is a prince persuaded." Forbearance implies calm endurance — a patience like that which the Great Heavenly Exemplar exhibited under insults and persecutions.
2. Speech. "A soft tongue breaketh the bone." "A soft tongue" not a simpering tongue, not a silly tongue, not a sycophantic tongue, but the "soft tongue" of tender love and forbearing kindness. Such a tongue is might: it "breaketh the bone." This somewhat paradoxical expression expresses the amazing power of kind words; they break the bone, the ossified heart of the enemy. Another manifestation of power here is —
3. Service. "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink," etc. "In the smelting of metals," says Arnot, "whether on a large or small scale, it is necessary that the burning coals should be above the ore as well as beneath it. The melting fuel and the rude stones to be melted are mingled together and brought into contact, particle by particle, throughout the mass. It is thus that the resistance of the stubborn material is overcome, and the precious separated from the vile." There are but few hearts so obdurate as not to melt under the fires of love that blaze over and under them. These words direct our attention to —
II. THE MIGHTINESS of moral power.
1. Persuading. "By long forbearing is a prince persuaded." Thus David brought down Saul (1 Samuel 24:8-20; 1 Samuel 26:3-20).
2. Breaking. "A soft tongue breaketh the bone." Loving words can mollify the roughest natures. Gideon, with a kind word, pacified the Ephraimites, and Abigail turned David's wrath away.
3. Melting. "Thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." "The Americans have a tract on this subject, entitled, 'The Man who Killed his Neighbours.' It contains, in the form of a narrative, many useful, practical suggestions on the art of overcoming evil with good. It is with kindness — modest, thoughtful, generous, persevering, unwearied kindness — that the benevolent countryman killed his churlish neighbour: and it is only the old evil man that he kills, leaving the new man to lead a very different life in the same village, after the dross has been purged away." How sublimely elevated is the moral legislation of the Bible!
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
1. Kindness as a means of defence. Have you ever known acerbity and acrimonious dispute settle a quarrel? I have seen men moving amid the annoyances, and vexations, and assaults of life in such calm Christian deliberation that all the buzzing around about their soul amounted to nothing. They conquered them, and, above all, conquered themselves.
2. Kindness as a means of usefulness. In all communities you find sceptical men. How shall you capture them for God? Sharp argument and sareastic retort never yet won a single soul from scepticism to the Christian religion. When such are brought in, it is through the charm of some genial soul, and not by argument at all. Men are not saved through the head; they are saved through the heart. The same thing is true in the reclamation of the openly vicious. Was ever a drunkard saved through the caricature of a drunkard? You can never drive man, woman, or child into the kingdom of God.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D.D.)
TopicsBone, Break, Breaketh, Breaks, Broken, Forbearance, Forbearing, Gentle, Judge, Long-suffering, Moved, Patience, Persuaded, Prince, Protest, Ruler, Soft, Tongue, Undergoes, Wrongs
Outline1. observations about kings
8. and about avoiding causes of quarrels
Dictionary of Bible ThemesProverbs 25:15
LibraryAn Unwalled City
'He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.'--PROVERBS xxv. 28. The text gives us a picture of a state of society when an unwalled city is no place for men to dwell in. In the Europe of today there are still fortified places, but for the most part, battlements are turned into promenades; the gateways are gateless; the sweet flowers blooming where armed feet used to tread; and men live securely without bolts and bars. But their spirits cannot yet …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
God's Glory in Hiding Sin
That a Man Should not be a Curious Searcher of the Sacrament, but a Humble Imitator of Christ, Submitting his Sense to Holy Faith
Epistle xxxix. To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria.
Epistle Xlii. To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria.
Wherefore Christ Undertook a Method of Setting us Free So Painful and Laborious, when a Word from Him, or an Act of his Will, Would Alone
"Boast not Thyself of To-Morrow, for Thou Knowest not what a Day May Bring Forth. "
Love in the Old Covenant.
The Old Testament Canon from Its Beginning to Its Close.
How the Silent and the Talkative are to be Admonished.
God's Glory the Chief End of Man's Being
Appendix v. Rabbinic Theology and Literature
The History Books
The Ninth Commandment
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