A wrathful man stirs up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeases strife.…
Again flashing upon us, mostly in the light of contrast. As, indeed, from precious stones and false paste, up to the highest truths of the spirit, we can know nothing truly except by the comparison of its opposite.
I. HASTE OF TEMPER AND LONG SUFFERING. (Ver. 18.) Quarrelsomeness, irritable words (would that we could recall them!), a thousand stabs and wounds to the heart of our friend and to our own, the result of the former. For the latter, read the exquisite descriptions of the New Testament wherever the word "long suffering" occurs, and see the matchless beauty, and learn to covet the possession of that character - the impress of God in human nature - and those best gifts which belong to "the more excellent way."
II. IDLENESS AND HONESTY. (Ver. 19.) The way of the former beset with difficulty. Lazy people take the most trouble, in the affairs of the soul as in everything. The honest path is the only easy path in the long run. We must remember that it is a long run we have to pass over, and must make our choice accordingly. Life is no mere picnic or excursion. For amusement of the leisure hour we may strike into a by-path, but never lose sight of the high road of faith.
III. PARENTAL JOY AND SORROW. (Ver. 20.) On the whole, these are one of the best indices of a man's character. A truly good parent may not understand his child, as Mary misunderstood Jesus; but at the bottom of the heart, when there is filial goodness there is parental sympathy and approval.
IV. SPURIOUS JOY AND QUIET PERSISTENCE IN RIGHT. (Ver. 21.) This is a good contrast. The fool is not content with saying or doing the foolish thing; he must needs chuckle over it and make a boast of it, often gaining applause for his mere audacity. But the man of true sense is content to forego the momentary triumph, and goes on his way. Ever to forsake the way we know to be right, even in momentary hilarity, brings its after sting.
V. FAILURE AND SUCCESS IN COUNSELS. (Ver. 22.) Wild tumultuous passion causes the former; and calm deliberation, the comparison and collision of many minds, brings about sound and stable policy. To lean upon one's own weak will, to act in haste or under impulse, how seldom can a prosperous issue come of this! See how individuals rush into lawsuits, nations into war, speculators into bankruptcy, - all for want of consultation and good advice. We need the impetus of enthusiasm, not less the direction of cool prudence; if one or the other factor be omitted, disaster must ensue.
VI. SEASONABLE WORDS. (Ver. 23.) We must consider not only the matter, but the manner, of our utterances. This requires "a mind at leisure from itself" to seize the happy opportunity, to refrain from introducing the jarring note, to turn the conversation when it threatens to strike on breakers. Oh, happy art! admirable and enviable in those that possess it, but cultivable by all who have the gentle heart. We cannot conceive that the conversations of Christ were ever other than thus seasonable. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
WEB: A wrathful man stirs up contention, but one who is slow to anger appeases strife.