By Kaaren Craig
In this time of lock downs, polarized values, fractured loyalties, and contentious words, sometimes these issues are with loved ones, co-workers, or friends. What is the one thing we have some control over? We have control of our words. While our mouths may be covered up by a mask at times, we can still speak. The question is what do we say, to whom and how?
Two verses caught my attention as I was reading the Bible. First was Prov. 25:11. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. What a great picture, but what exactly does it demonstrate? The other verse was Ps. 81:10. “I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it”. Is He only talking about food? I doubt it.
Since Scripture interprets Scripture, I began the hunt to discover how Scripture defines key words in this verse.
Prov. 25:11. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
This poetic statement has a wonderful depth of meaning.
Words: Words are described as arrows by David in Ps. 64:3. “They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.”
Jeremiah in Jer. 9:3. “They use their tongues like bows that shoot arrows. … Their tongues are bent like a bow to send out false words…”
The verses above reveal the contrast in function of words. Words have velocity and value. Velocity is in the direction and speed that they travel. Value is in whether words are welcomed and cherished or hurtful and discarded.
Apples: Contrary to a popular belief, the apple in Proverbs is not the forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve ate, but we do have many illustrations of what the apple signifies in scripture.
To the Israelites in the wilderness: “The LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, And in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the apple of His eye.” Deut. 32:9.10
A proverb of King Solomon: “Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.” Prov. 7:2
In Scripture the apple is a picture of something that is carefully guarded like the pupil of an eye.
Gold: Solomon’s Temple. “Solomon made all the furniture which was in the house of the LORD: the golden altar and the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence; and the lampstands, five on the right side and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary, of pure gold; and the flowers and the lamps and the tongs, of gold; and the cups and the snuffers and the bowls and the spoons and the firepans, of pure gold; and the hinges both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, that is, of the nave, of gold.” I Kg. 7:48-50
Since the Temple was the place to worship God, we could say gold signifies God’s character, purity, royalty, wealth, and Spiritual power. Gold is a universal symbol of great worth.
Settings of Silver: Offerings in the Tabernacle were made of silver containers. “This was the dedication offering for the altar from the leaders of Israel when it was anointed: twelve silver dishes (platters), twelve silver bowls, twelve gold pans.” Num. 7:84
Silver was also used for redemption not only for animals but also for people. “The firstborn of man you shall surely redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. As to their redemption price, from a month old you shall redeem them, by your valuation, five shekels in silver.” Num 18:14,16
In the 6th Century BC, Zechariah prophesied: “I said to them, if it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So, they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them. So, I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” Zech 11:12-13
Jesus/Yeshua was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. “Then that which was spoken through Zechariah the prophet was fulfilled: AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel.” Matt. 27:9
We can summarize the settings of silver as the vessel that brings redemption and as a picture that Jesus/Yeshua offered.
With the above knowledge of the function of these words, there is a deeper understanding of our verse in Proverbs. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Words are like arrows that shoot either poison or the purity of God’s words. Words are like arrows that are aimed at heaven and earth. God compares His Word as the pupil of His eye so we can be assured that He guards His Word. Gold is wealth expressed in purity, spiritual power, within His Temple as an example. Silver is a picture of the vessel that brings redemption. The dishes or platters in the Tabernacle and the Temple are the containers that bring the offerings to God.
Apples of gold in settings of silver is a picture with tremendous meaning. Those silver platters bring offerings and prayers. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
Application: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” This is a beautiful picture of our prayers to heaven. The prayers of the redeemed are as arrows that go through the atmosphere. As we pray God’s word, He guards it, He receives it in His Temple in heaven. Prayers are like the offerings given in silver bowls in the Tabernacle and the Temple.
The second verse that caught my attention also concerns the words of the mouth.
Ps. 81:10 “I, the LORD, am your God; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”
God promises to fill our mouths, and Scripture has much to say about the fruit of our mouths.
Prov. 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Jesus was specific about the effect of words. There are warnings and encouragement.
Mark 7:14 “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.
Words can bless or defile not only others but also ourselves.”
Matt. 12:35 “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
The apostle Paul in his letter the Ephesians also taught about what is spoken out loud.
Eph. 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
The Psalmist encourages the importance and influence of the words of man and the words of God.
Ps. 119: 14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock, and my Redeemer.”
A summary on the above verses on the function or characteristic of words is as follows.
1. God wants to fill our mouths with what He provides.
2. God’s words are sweet.
3. God is aware of our words.
4. Words may carry the aroma of God.
5. It is okay to ask God for words.
6. Words can produce life.
1. God is aware of our words and will judge accordingly.
2. Do not allow unwholesome words out of mouths.
3. Words can produce death.
4. Words can defile.
Application: Ps. 81:10 “I, the LORD, am your God; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”
The question at the beginning of this blog was what do we say, to whom and how?
What do we say?
It is always good and proper to ask God to fill our mouths.
Do our words bring life or death, does it edify or tear down? What judgment will the words bring? Remembering that words are like arrows that shoot up to heaven or shoot at a person, words will be heard. Is it kind, true or necessary? What is the taste and aroma?
The words spoken, are they to the King of the Universe or to a fellow human being that is made in the image of God? There is definite protocol when entering the King’s Presence. “Come into His courts with thanksgiving” (Ps. 100:4). “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall show forth Your praise” (Ps. 51:15). Also, God promises that His words will not return to Him void. Thus, the immense power of praying the Word of God.
Speaking to people, or about other people is just as important according to Jesus/Yeshua. This is hard to remember when the other person’s values are opposite, or they have just said something offensive. This is the time of lock downs, polarized values, fractured loyalties, and contentious words, but also the time to be salt and light with words.
How to speak
One is known by the words that one speaks. Words have a smell that can be rotten, offensive, or uplifting and fragrant. The choice is given. However, here is the promise. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14). May Believers always exude that sweet smell of the knowledge of Him everywhere. May Believers open their mouths and let God fill them with His words.
“I, the LORD, am your God. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” Ps. 81:10
God promises to fill our mouths, not only with food but also words, even when our mouths are covered by a mask.
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Kaaren Craig is a BibleInteract board member and loves exploring the depth of Scripture.