Reading: Proverbs 25:1-28
Today we switch back to the Proverbs of Solomon. Interestingly, these proverbs, we are told, were uncovered and copied down under the orders of the King Hezekiah, Solomon’s great, great (and then some) grandson. There was a great revival under his reign; he returned many lost practices of worship back to the people of Israel and restored the singing of hymns to their proper place. (2 Chronicles 29:30)
Verse 21 is hopefully familiar to us, it’s quoted both by Jesus (Matthew 5:20) and Paul (Romans 12:44). Remarkably, what sounds like a horrendous punishment, having hot coals coals poured on one’s enemies heads, is not as extreme as first appears. The expression may well reflect the Egyptian expiation ritual (expiation means the cleansing of an offence), in which a guilty person, as a sign of their repentance, carries on their head a basin of glowing coals! Therefore, the meaning of verse 21 is that in being kind to ones enemies we are gently leading them to change their minds and repent of the harm they have done us. Perhaps even win them over as friends!
In his book ‘ Choose life’, Simon Guillebaud writes,
“We all have enemies, or at least people who rub us up the wrong way. Think of them right now. God loves them, died for them, and wants them to know him. However hard it might be, could you do something positive for them? However undeserved, could you take the first step in building or rebuilding a bridge towards them? Abraham Lincoln was once rebuked by his advisors for being so kind to his enemies. He replied, “Do I not destroy my enemies by turning them into my friends?” A friend of mine in Burundi called Jack has destroyed his enemy by going back to the spot where the latter murdered Jack’s father, and preaching love and forgiveness arm in arm with him.”
What could you do for your enemies today?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48 NIV 1984)
“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” (Proverbs 25:21)
Father, thank you that you hold me, you surround me and you defend me. Thank you that you are my rock, my fortress and in you I can never be shaken. Thank you that all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. You are amazing! Lord, in your strength, by your Holy Spirit, today I choose to love my enemies. In Jesus name. Amen!
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