APPLES OF GOLD
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
The first verse of the text chapter indicates that Proverbs 25 through 29 were compiled, during the reign of King Hezekiah, by those that associated with him. These men could have possibly been Isaiah, Shebna and other inspired men commissioned by Hezekiah for this task that took place approximately 270 to 300 years after the death of Solomon. The reign of King Hezekiah was one of the spiritual high points of Judah. Both his father, Ahaz, who preceded him, and his son Manasseh, who followed him, were evil kings that did not follow the will of God. It was during the reformation that took place in his reign that Hezekiah had these proverbs compiled and included with the other proverbs of Solomon.
The lesson text refers to mankind's conversational speaking. What we say, and how we say it, is extremely important. It is compared to apples of gold in pictures of silver. The Psalmist is comparing one's speech to something that is very precious. Apples of gold in baskets of silver, is the better translation. Can you picture a basket wrought of pure silver; and in it are large apples made of pure gold? What would this be worth to you? What do you think its value would be? It would probably be worth an extremely large sum, no doubt, especially in today's precious metals market. This, writes the proverb author, is how much words, that are fitly spoken, are worth.
Solomon recognized that the words we speak could be both good and bad. A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness (Prov. 15:1-2). In the book of James we find this same description of the speech of mankind - Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be (James 3:10).
Perhaps you know of people that fit both of these categories of speech. Have you ever known someone that often says hurtful things to you or to others? Possibly through envy, this person is constantly cutting others down or belittling them with derisive remarks. They can find nothing good to say about anyone or anything. On the other hand, do you know someone that is always saying complementary things about you and about others? This is the type person that will say nothing about you unless they have something good to say. Which person's words would we describe as apples of gold in pictures of silver?
The words that proceed from one's mouth are capable of doing great good or great evil. This fact is discussed in great length in James' discourse on the tongue in chapter 3. The tongue is described as a little member, and boasteth great things (Vs. 5). It is compared to the tiny bits that control horses and the small helms that control large ships (Vs. 3 - 4). It is also compared to a small flame that can kindle a great fire (Vs. 5). Envy and strife can control what one says. Such wisdom is earthy, sensual, devilish and results in confusion and every evil work (Vs. 14-16). However, the godly wisdom that results in good speech is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (Vs. 17-18).
The words that we say in the presence of others are extremely important and should always be directed by the godly wisdom noted above. Not only are the words we say important, but how we say them is just as important. The apostle Paul wrote this to the Collossian brethren: Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man (Col. 4:6). Paul is telling the Colossians how they are to defend the doctrines of Christianity. Speaking harshly, demandingly, and in a demeaning way will only turn others away from Christ - it will repel them to the extent that they will reject the gospel of salvation. Speaking with grace is speaking with an attractive tone and manner - one that is proper, decent, and shows mercy and compassion. If our words are seasoned with salt, it means they are more palatable - more pleasing to one's taste - more easily acceptable and agreeable. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength, and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). Indeed, let every word we speak be apples of gold in pictures of silver!