Proverbs 25:11
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Sermons
A Word Fitly SpokenFrom, Life of Dr. JeterProverbs 25:11
Apples of GoldAlbert J. Shorthouse.Proverbs 25:11
Apples of Gold in Pictures of SilverHugh Macmillan, D.D.Proverbs 25:11
The Excellency of Fitly-Spoken WordsD. Thomas, D.D.Proverbs 25:11
The Lessons of the Orange-TreeSamuel Cox, D.D.Proverbs 25:11
Welcome WordsW. Clarkson Proverbs 25:11
Words on WheelsProverbs 25:11
Similitudes of Moral Beauty and GoodnessE. Johnson Proverbs 25:11-15

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.







A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
"Apples of gold" is a poetic name for the orange in more than one Eastern tongue. "Pictures of silver" may be a figure for the creamy-white blossoms of the orange-tree. No one who has seen orange-trees in full blossom and full bearing can have failed to notice how the beauty of the golden fruit is set off by its framework of white fragrant blossoms. "Fitly spoken" is in the margin "a word spoken in season" — a timely, opportune word. Delitzsch renders, "according to circumstances," by which is meant a good word adapted to time and audience and to all the conditions of the time. Most of us can remember some word spoken in the very nick of time and so happily adapted to our conditions at the moment that it largely influenced our whole subsequent career. But perhaps the meaning is a word which was the fittest, the most perfect and beautiful expression of the thought which had to be uttered. "A word spoken on its wheels." Every kind of thought has its appropriate expression in language. What the wise man bids us admire is those weighty and happy sentences which embody a noble thought in words of answering nobleness.

1. This is the first lesson of the orange-tree — that a happy, a fair and noble utterance of a wise thought gives it a new charm, a new and victorious energy. Distinction of style is almost as potent — if indeed it is not even more potent — on the life and fame of a book as depth or originality of thought.

2. All force becomes most forcible when it is smoothly and easily exerted. It is not effort, strain, violence which tell in action any more than in language, but gentleness, calmness, a gracious mastery and smiling ease. The wiser you are the less passionate, the less vehement, the less overbearing you will be. Great forces are calm and gentle because they are irresistible. Calmness, composure, gentleness are signs of strength.

3. Religion is most potent when it is clothed with grace. A genial and friendly godliness is like the ruddy fruit of the orange-tree encircled and set off by its wealth of white, odorous blooms. There was much that was admirable in the Puritan conception of religion; but though its heart was sound its face wore a frown. And in many of us religion still wears a sour and forbidding face. Some there are who still suspect beauty, culture, scholarship, mirth, and even devotion to God and man, if it take any form other than that which they approve and prefer. Such people do not render religion attractive. Let us learn the lesson of the orange-tree, and the greatest lesson of all — the lesson of charity.

(Samuel Cox, D.D.)

The term translated "fitly" is a very curious one in the original Hebrew. It signifies "wheels," and the marginal reading is "a word spoken on his wheels," which means a word that rolled smoothly and pleasantly from the lips of the speaker to the ears of the hearer. In ancient times the carts had no wheels, and most things were carried on horseback. There were no roads, and the carts were put on long shafts, the two ends of which rested on the ground, and were dragged along by the horse with great difficulty, making deep ruts in the ground. The first wheels that were used in our country were very clumsy and rough. Modern wheels are light, and turn easily. The wise man says that each of your words should be like a vehicle on easy-going wheels, so smooth and courteous that it would produce no jar or shock to either speaker or hearer; not hurt by any harshness or roughness, or leave a painful rut behind in the memory. People in the East are remarkable for the grace and courtesy of their speech. They carry this sometimes too far, and are guilty of insincerity and exaggeration. We are apt to err in the other direction, and make our speech too rough and harsh, fancying that we cannot be true and sincere if we are polite. We are not so careful of our words as we ought to be. The text directs our thoughts to the surpassing excellence of gentle and kindly speech. Cultivated society is so pleasant to live in, because the people who move in it have learned to control their tempers, are polite and forbearing to each other, and do not say things that grate upon the feelings and leave a sting behind. But while good society gives an outward and artificial politeness, the religion of the meek and lowly Jesus gives true inward refinement and civility. It enables us to be truly considerate, bearing with the failings of some, overlooking the weaknesses of others, and having a good word to say of every one. It puts a wheel on every one of your words, so that it may glide smoothly. There are persons who grudge to say a word of praise to others, however deserving. Frankly praise what is worthy of praise, and your words will be sweet and pleasant to yourselves as well as to others. There is a temptation to be clever and say smart things, and to use words of sareasm or ridicule at the expense of those who are not so quick-witted as yourselves. Be very careful in finding fault with people, lest you should make the offender an enemy. In the text "apples" probably should be "oranges," and this fruit gives a more suggestive figure. The flowers and fruit may be found together on the orange-tree throughout the whole year. The leaves are evergreen and of a cheerful, glossy green, and the flowers of a brilliant white, with a most delicious scent. So is the exceeding comeliness of a wise and gentle employment of your words. A word fitly spoken can administer an all-round delight in the same way. We speak about the language of flowers and of flowery language. It would be well if there was more of this attractiveness in our speech. The old Athenian laws required that a newly-married couple, when they were alone, should first eat a quince together, in token, as this fruit was the symbol of good-will, that their conversation should be mutually pleasant. And so your religion requires, in all your intercourse with one another, that you should first eat the quince of good-will, and be careful in choosing smooth words that have no sharp edges to cut and wound, that roll easily and pleasantly on wheels without making any jars or ruts. Over against all apples of discord that cause alienation and strife and misfortune set the golden apples of gentle, kind, considerate words that will win all hearts around you and sweeten the air and smooth all the rough things of the world.

(Hugh Macmillan, D.D.)

The comparison here has undoubtedly an allusion to some old domestic ornament. "The idea," says Stuart, "is that of a garment of precious stuff, on which are embroidered golden apples among picture work of silver. Costly and precious was such a garment held to be: for besides the ornaments upon it, the material itself was of high value." Others think that the allusion is to a kind of table ornament, constructed of a silver basket of delicate lattice-work, containing gold in the form of apples. The basket would, of course, be so constructed as to show off with advantage its precious treasure, the apple of gold. The ancient Easterns were men of taste and men of art; they loved the beautiful, and they had their ornaments: and some of their ornaments were as exquisitely constructed as those of any scenes or times.

I. Words fitly spoken must be words fitted TO EXHIBIT THE TRUTH TO THE BEST ADVANTAGE. They must be to the truth what the basket was to the apples of gold — an instrument for showing them off to the best advantage. There are words that hide the truth; they are so profuse and luxuriant that they bury the priceless flower in their wilderness. There are words that disgrace the truth; they are ill-chosen, mean, suggestive of low and degrading associations.

II. Words fitly spoken must be words ADAPTED TO THE MENTAL MOOD OF THE HEARER.

1. Different men have different mental moods. Some are naturally sombre, imaginative, and practical; others are gay, poetic, and speculative. Words fitly spoken must be adapted to each particular mood: the form in which truth would suit one mood would be inapt to another.

2. The same man has different moods at different times. Circumstances modify the condition of the soul. Hence "a word fitly spoken" must be a word presenting truth adapted to the soul in its existing mood. It must be a word in due season.

III. Words fitly spoken should be words SPOKEN IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT.

IV. NATURALLY-FLOWING WORDS. "Spoken upon his wheels." Not forced or dragged words. Let us all endeavour to use the right words in the family, in the market, in the schools, in the debate, in the pulpit, on the platform, and in the press.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Things of rare worth and beauty are words "fitly spoken," words that fit the case and match the opportunity. The human voice can do what nothing else can. Of some men's words we are sure that they are "apples of gold." Such are the words of the prophets who come with messages of hope and warning. Among words of truth and beauty are —

1. Words of comfort. We have no distance to go to find a human life that needs a consoling word. On the next foot of land to yours stands a man who craves for comfort. There are times in life when the word of instruction would be an injury and the elaborated argument a great hurt, as neither would minister to the mind diseased; but simple, earnest, heartfelt words, born of sympathy, are veritable "apples of gold."

2. Words of counsel. These are not always welcome. Our independent spirit will not permit us to invite or accept them. Yet many a man traces the turning-point of his career to the time when he acted on some word of good counsel. The word of experience is often the word wanted.

3. Words of encouragement. The world will never know what it owes to those people who have encouraged others. To encourage a man is to help him to turn some of the possibilities within him into actual achievements. Let us give God thanks for all those winsome servants of His who walk their appointed ways across His world, speaking as they go the encouraging word.

(Albert J. Shorthouse.)

A wonderful deal of good often comes from what Solomon calls "a word fitly spoken." The Hebrew for "fitly spoken" here means "set on wheels." All our words are set on wheels. If they are good words, they are wheeling on for good. If they are evil words, they go wheeling on for evil. Remember this.

From, Life of Dr. Jeter
A certain Baptist merchant of Richmond became seriously embarrassed in his business. The report went out that he had failed, and caused much painful surprise. A few days after the suspension of his business Dr. Jeter, in passing down the aisle of the church one Sunday morning, met him. He grasped him by the hand with unwonted warmth, and said, " How are you, brother? I have heard fine news about you." Just about that time the sad brother was feeling that all the news concerning him was of the worst sort. With mingled surprise and curiosity he asked the doctor what he had heard. "Why, I heard that you had failed in business, and failed honestly. It is nothing to lose your money if you have been able to retain your integrity." The kind word went far to reconcile the brother to his misfortunes. He did "fail honestly," and not long after started again, and rose to high prosperity.

(From "Life of Dr. Jeter.")

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