A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
I. THE APT WORD. Compared to "golden apples in silver frames." Carved work adorning the ceilings of rooms is perhaps alluded to. The beauty of the groined sets off the worth of the object. Just so the good word is set off by the seasonableness of the moment of its utterance (1 Peter 4:11). The apt word is "a word upon wheels, not lotted or dragged, but rolling smoothly along like chariot wheels." Our Lord's discourses (e.g. on the bread and water of life) sprang naturally out of the course of passing conversation (John 4.; Luke 14.). So with Patti's famous discourse on Mars' Hill (Acts 17).
II. WISE CENSURE IN THE WILLING EAR IS COMPARED TO A GOLDEN EARRING. (Ver. 12.) For if all wisdom is precious as pure gold, and beautiful as ornaments m that material, to receive and wear with meekness in the memory and heart such counsels is better than any other decoration. "The wisest princes need not think it any diminution to their greatness or derogation to their sufficiency to rely upon counsel. God himself is not without, but hath made it one of the great names of his blessed Son, 'The Counsellor'" (Bacon). He who willingly gives heed to wise chastisement does a better service to his ears than if he adorned them with the finest gold and with genuine pearls.
III. A FAITHFUL MESSENGER IS COMPARED TO COOLING SNOW. (Ver. 13.) In the heat of harvest labour a draught of melted snow from Lebanon is like a "winter in summer" (Xen.,' Mem.,' 2:1, 30). A traveller says, "Snow so cold is brought down from Mount Lebanon that, mixed with wine, it renders ice itself cold." So refreshing is faithfulness in service. The true servant is not to be paid with gold.
IV. IDLE PRETENSIONS COMPARED TO CLOUDS AND WIND WITHOUT RAIN. (Ver. 14.) Promise without performance. Let men be what they would seem to be. "What has he done? is the Divine question which searches men and transpierces every false reputation.... Pretension may sit still, but cannot act. Pretension never feigned an act of real greatness. Pretension never wrote an 'Iliad,' nor drove back Xerxes, nor Christianized the world, nor abolished slavery."
V. THE POWER OF PATIENCE. (Ver. 15.) Time and patience are persuasive; a proverb compares them to an inaudible file. Here patience is viewed as a noiseless hammer, silently crushing resistance. "He who would break through a wall with his hand," says an old commentator, "will hardly succeed!" But how do gentleness and mildness win their way! "I Paul beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:1). - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.