These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah: 2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. 3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings are unsearchable. 4 Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; 5 remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness. 6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; 7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before his nobles. What you have seen with your eyes 8 do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbour puts you to shame? (Prov. 25:1-8 NIV)
1 These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:
This verse introduces a new section of Proverbs including chs. 25-29. While the text introduces the author and the compiler, what is important for us to note is that the book of Proverbs that we have before us is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit and we have God-given words for us to read.
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. 3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.
The Lord decides what He will reveal about Himself and what He will conceal. Even what God has revealed is difficult for us to fully comprehend. What we know about God is what God has condescended to reveal. We cannot know more about God than what He has revealed. Meditation on anything other than the Word of God will not reveal anything more about God. What God has left veiled reminds us of our finitude. Those who rule over us are respected when they demonstrate that they have considered all possibilities and outcomes before they rule on a matter. Rulers are fallible and it is a difficult thing to make a decision that balances the competing pressures. Whatever your political leaning, remember in prayer our political leaders. It seems to me a thankless task to try to lead the country. The last big issue was Brexit and Theresa May had a torrid time. Today the issue is the Pandemic and there is no manual to consult on what to do. Remember the criticism that Moses (the most humble man in all the earth) received because of his leadership. Moses was a good leader, but he did not receive popular acclaim from those he led. I subscribe and read a weekly political journal. Currently it has much to say about the prime minister’s abandonment of his liberal principles. They refer to his previously stated ‘small government, trusting society to make their own decisions’. They find his current interventionism during the pandemic hard to fathom. This is a commentary on what the Teacher says here, ‘that the heart of the ruler is unsearchable’.
4 Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; 5 remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.
The analogy arises from the fact that silver is always found alloyed with many impurities and these impurities need to be removed before there is a material that can be used by the silversmith. This helps make the point that a ruler cannot rule when they have wicked or disloyal officials working for them. When officials are working to a different agenda or leaking private discussions it is difficult for a ruler to rule. A ruler has to discuss every option. When officials leak those discussions, it serves to undermine the leader. In our country, whoever has been prime minister, officials have leaked information to try and discredit those in charge. This is never helpful because it just makes leading impossible. The public do not have a right to know about every discussion that takes place in government. Bad government is better than no government. When officials understand that they are there to serve government then some form of rule can be established.
6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men;
7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.
We often feel that we have a right to be heard. It is natural for us to promote ourselves, to tell of what we are doing, to make ourselves sound significant and important. The Teacher warns us not to seek to promote ourselves or to claim that we have a right to be on the committee or that we should be listened to. It is better to wait to be invited to give your opinion than to feel that you have a right because of your experience to be consulted.
What you have seen with your eyes 8 do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbour puts you to shame?
We need to be careful before we presume to interpret what we have seen. It is so easy to misjudge an action of another person that we have observed. The Teacher advises caution. We have a natural arrogance that makes us feel that we have an insight into understanding what others are doing. We don’t have any natural insight. We are most likely to be wrong in our assessment about what others are doing or what others are intending to accomplish. At times we are so sure of ourselves that we rush forward to broadcast our judgements only to be exposed as being wrong and humiliated as the person we accuse is able to demonstrate what really happened. The Teacher cautions us to be slow to judge.
Lord God help us to consider others to be better than ourselves in their motivations. Forgive us for investing so much time and energy in judging others and so little time on reflection upon what we ourselves have thought, said and done. Lord help us to see ourselves as You see us, because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.