“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11 ESV)
The Book of Proverbs returns from an excursion with “The Sayings of the Wise” back to “proverbs of Solomon” in chapter 25. Beginning in verse 1, we’re told that King Hezekiah’s men copied them, and the next few verses teach us of some godly characteristics of kings.
In this section, we learn that good kings conceal (v2) and search things out (v2), and they desire holiness (v4-5) and respect (v6-7). Next, the Proverbs instructs those who would go before such rulers. Solomon cautions them about hastiness (v7) and telling secrets (v9) and goes on to exhort them to use wise words (v11), integrity (v13), and patience (v15).
What does all this have to do with us? The scene in 25:1-15 is that of a king’s court. First, we’re told of the kind of discernment a king should have in executing justice. Then, we’re told of the kind of discernment a person should display when going before a king. While a great disparity may exist between the king and the common person, they are both expected to exhibit righteous judgment. So it is with us: whether a ruler or mere citizen, a boss or employee, a parent or a child, we are called to exercise proper judgment in all matters.
One of the world’s favorite Bible verses is part of Matthew 7:1, “Judge not. . .” People often stop right there. Hardly are Jesus’ words in John 7:24 dealt with, “Judge righteous judgment.” Contrary to worldly thinking, the Bible doesn’t condemn judging, but certain attitudes of judgment. Judging by appearance, judging oneself better than others, and wrongly dividing the word of truth are just a few examples of wrong judgment. But, the Word of God also instructs God’s people in how to judge righteously.
As we study this text together, we should ask questions such as, What is judgment? In what context should I judge? What should my heart attitude be in judgment? How do I handle when others judge me? Rather than condemn judgment or ignore judgment, let us determine to judge righteously. May the Holy Spirit be our guide as he teaches us through The Book of Proverbs.