posted on Apr, 5 2019 @ 05:00 PM
The collector of the Old Testament Proverbs makes his purpose clear from the beginning.
“That men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight” (ch1 v2).
Then he further defines this wisdom as “fear of the Lord” (v7). This phrase, when used in the Bible, means respect and willingness to obey.
I’m studying the different characters of Proverbs, as one way of organising and understanding the teaching.
I’ve already looked at the general character of the Fool, who does not understand this “fear of the Lord”.
I observed that the combination of his talkativeness and his lack of wisdom tends to make him quarrelsome.
So that gives us the Quarreller as one of the subcategories of this character.
“Every fool will be quarrelling” (ch20 v3).
This is particularly the case when the Fool has an angry nature;
“A man of wrath stirs up strife, and a man given to anger causes much transgression” (ch29 v22).
Or he may just be a man who ”loves transgression” and therefore “loves strife” (ch17 v19).
One of the connecting links between anger and strife is hasty and ill-considered speech, which is one of the characteristics of the Fool.
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts” (ch12 v18).
“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (ch29 v20).
It is the Fool, rather than the Wise man, who offers insulting language;
“He who belittles his neighbour lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent”- (ch11 v12).
Wisdom is with those who take advice (before opening the discussion), but “by insolence the heedless make strife” (ch13 v10).
It is the Fool, rather than the Wise Man, who responds badly to insulting language from the other party;
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (ch15 v1).
“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent man ignores an insult” (ch12 v16).
“A fool gives vent to his anger, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (ch29 v11).
They need to find a way of escaping from an emerging conflict before it gets out of hand;
“The beginning of strife is like letting out water; so quit before the quarrel breaks out” (ch17 v14).
This image obviously comes from a society which practices irrigation. People are used to seeing the irresistible rush of water once it has been
Therefore it is important to learn forgiveness;
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offences” (ch10 v12).
“He who forgives an offence seeks love, but he who repeats a matter alienates a friend.”- ch17 v9
They should certainly avoid bringing other people into the quarrel;
“He who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (ch18 v17).
“Argue your case with your neighbour himself, and do not disclose another’s secret;
Lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end” (ch25 vv9-10).
Even worse, calling in the lawyers;
“What your eyes have seen do not bring hastily into court;
For what will you do in the end, when your neighbour puts you to shame?” (ch25 vv7-8).
“Be not a witness against your neighbour without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.
Do not say “I will do to him what he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done” (ch24 vv28-29).
The better approach is to break the cycle of hostility;
“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his
anger from him” (ch24 vv17-18).
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For you will heap coals of fire upon his head and the Lord will reward you” (ch25 vv21-22).
By the same token, they should not be getting involved in other people’s quarrels;
“He who meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” (ch26 v17).
But it’s hard for them to avoid getting involved in quarrels if they take up company with men who are prone to quarrelling;
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare” (ch22
“A man of violence entices his neighbour and leads him into a way that is not good” (ch16 v29).
On the other hand, “the tongue of the wise brings healing” (ch12 v18).
“He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (ch17 v27).
Strife is avoided by the man who controls his tongue and his temper.
The wise man is “slow to anger”, and this victory over himself makes him “better than a man who takes a city” (ch16 v32)
“A man of quick temper acts foolishly, but a man of discretion is patient” (ch14 v17).
“It is his glory to overlook an offence” (ch19 v11)
That is one way of detecting the difference between wisdom and folly, between righteousness and unrighteousness.