The Wise Reprover (1)
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christia School in Walker, MI
Proverbs 25:12: “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”
Solomon teaches us about a reprover. A reprover is someone who warns somebody else about sin. A reprover witnesses someone’s sin, is troubled by that sin because he understands what sin does to a person’s relationship with God, and then speaks to the sinner to encourage him to put away his sin and walk obediently in fellowship with the Lord. Solomon wants us to know how valuable a wise reprover is.
Solomon teaches us about reprovers by using something from every day life with which we are familiar: jewellery. Many people like jewellery. You can see it around school and these days more girls wear jewellery of some sort than those who do not. Solomon isn’t talking about the kind of jewellery we see here around school though. I doubt that the jewellery we see around here at school is really expensive. The jewellery might be special to its owner for one reason or another, but I doubt we could find examples of jewellery here which cost a few hundred dollars or more. Solomon is speaking of gold earrings and ornaments fashioned from fine gold. These items are expensive.
This jewellery has value because of what it is made. Solomon is speaking about gold jewellery. I checked the newspaper to find the price of an ounce of gold. It is not cheap. Last Friday, gold was selling for $1,127.40 an ounce. My weight in gold would be valued at $3,156,720. So, it is debatable whether or not I am worth my weight in gold. Now a goldsmith is going to take this gold, which is already costly, and spend some time using his skill and expertise to make a beautiful ornament out of that fine gold. The value of this piece of jewellery is now even greater.
Jewellery has many uses. We decorate ourselves with it. People give jewellery as a gift to those who are dear to them. Some people view gold as a good investment. In Bible times, gold and jewellery were good ways to preserve wealth. For example, there were times when enemies would attack. If the enemy won the battle, they would spoil, take away, all the valuable things they could find from the people they had just defeated. Some people’s wealth was in flocks and herds. It is a little hard to hide all these animals or escape from the enemy quickly when your wealth is in animals. However, if your wealth were in gold and jewellery, a great amount of value could be packed in a small space. The gold and jewels could be quickly gathered up, and you and your family could escape the enemy in a hurry. Once you had arrived at a safer place, the gold could be used to purchase what was needed. You would not have to start your life all over with nothing.
Solomon wants us to learn that people who warn us about sin are just as valuable as gold. Two passages from the Bible, Jeremiah 43:1-7 and Job 33:1-13, have examples of people who reproved others: Jeremiah and Elihu. One of the stories of reproof turned out poorly, and the other turned out well. We will start with the reproof which did not work out so well, Jeremiah and the Israelites of his day.
Judah had just been defeated, crushed actually, by Babylon in battle. The Babylonians took an Israelite, Gedaliah, and put him in charge of the few people left in Judah. Gedaliah told the Jews to go about their work, earn the money they needed to live and submit to the rule of the Babylonians. There was another Israelite who did not like that idea. His name was Ishmael, and he was of the royal seed. Ishmael rebelled against Gedaliah, and killed him and all the people who were with Gedaliah. Another man named Johanan heard about the evil which Ishmael had done, gathered an army, fought against Ishmael, killed many of Ishmael’s followers and forced Ishmael to flee.
The remaining Jews were now afraid of the Babylonians because the man Babylon had left in charge, Gedaliah, had been murdered. The Israelites did not know what to do. Should they stay in Judah and perhaps have an angry group of Babylonians come against them or should they flee into Egypt where they would be safe? The people went to Jeremiah to ask him to go to God to ask Him what they should do. The people said they would do whatever God told them to do.
Jeremiah went to God, and God told him what the Jews should do. They should stay in Judah. God said He would show mercy to them, build them up and plant them securely in the promised land. Do not go to Egypt, God told them. If you go to Egypt to run away from the sword of Babylon, the sword will catch up with you in Egypt anyway, and you will all die from the sword, famine and disease.
That brings us to Jeremiah 43:1-7. Johanan and the Jews accuse Jeremiah of speaking falsely. As it turns out, they had already made up their minds to go to Egypt no matter what God would tell them through Jeremiah. They would obey God, but only if He told them what they wanted to hear. Sure enough, the Jews pack up and go to Egypt. Jeremiah reproves them for their disobedience but again they do not listen. It comes as no surprise to us that God does as He says. The Israelites in Egypt are destroyed.
The golden and wise reproof of Jeremiah fell upon disobedient ears. The result was disaster.
... to be continued