A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25, verse 11.
This is perhaps the most poetic and visual of all the Proverbs I’ve read. Several times I’ve read and re-read it, and each time it evokes a slightly different chain of thoughts.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away; that’s thought number one. Apples are healthy, prodigious, natural and just plain good. Who wouldn’t like apple pie, or apple juice, or the image of a big, beautiful apple fruit hanging from a tree? For several years, my family and I used to visit an orchard in southern Colorado where we would pick for hours in the sunshine and tall grass. Those are some of my cherished memories. To link them to the beauty of well-spoken words and the luxury of precious metals makes the memories that much richer. All those years ago, we weren’t picking fruit to store in the freezer: we were harvesting gold to store in our hearts, then share with others.
What of that silver and gold? Say those words together and I think of Burl Ives, and of ingots and wealth. I think of a polished silver service, beautiful jewelry, the standard of monies, and what people have sought in frenzied rushes of greed throughout history. When I think of silver and gold I think of the object of our admiration, and how gold looks wrapped around a diamond, and I think of all the gilding on churches and places of grandeur all across the world. When I think of gold and silver and how precious they seem to be, I remember, too, that they will look like rust compared to the glory shining from the Almighty when at last I can see Him face to face.
People of few words. We all know them, the terse but seemingly wise people who watch their words and only use them when they’re needed. It’s a trait I admire because it’s an ability I don’t possess. Reticence has never been my strongest suit; few will ever describe my words as “concise” even though they’re better that way. I admire the Gettysburg Address and he who authored it. Even more, I admire that He who created us all could pen all the words we’d ever need to read in one short volume of books from multiple authors. Concise communication is both a gift and a miracle.
Finally, there are the words spoken at the right time. How many of us can say that they remember times when someone, somewhere said something to us that resonated at just the right moment in time? I’m betting that each of us could say that, at one time or another, a friend, family member or even a stranger has said something that meant a lot, something that was exactly what (we believed) we needed to hear at the time. Such words get us through tough times and past crises. I’ve tried the whole ‘blindly-find-a-verse-in-the-Bible’ thing, thinking that if I closed my eyes, opened the Good Book and put my finger on a verse it would be exactly what God wanted me to know at that very moment. Perhaps it is; perhaps not. Either way, it’s what I chose and the older I get the more I find that those words do work at just the right time. They make sense, even when I don’t always understand the context.
Of course, it also reminds me of the joke my mom recounts from a class she took in college. A man decides to consult Scripture on what he should do with his life. Opening the book he puts his finger on the first verse he turns to and reads Matthew 27:5, “So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” The man thinks, “Surely God doesn’t want me to do that,” so he decides to try again. He does so and turns to Luke 10:37 reading, “Go and do thou likewise.”
But I digress . Perhaps a bit of humor can be a rich word aptly spoken too. At least I hope so if only to lighten the load of weary world travelers like you and I. That’s the point of all Scripture, you know, not just the verses that evoke poetic images. The point is to infuse our lives with love that we might share it and share in His glory in every way on every day. The point of Scripture is for God to draw near to us that He might draw us near to Him. The whole thing really is a love letter from eternity, and there aren’t many words better than that.