This week's fun little exegetical conundrum has come from Proverbs 25:21,22:
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, 22 for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.
The question is: What are these burning coals, what do they symbolize? In his book Crying for Justice, John Day summarizes the three possibilities, to which Charles Bridges add a fourth.
1. Burning coals are a symbol of shame - or -
2. Burning coals are a picture of repentance - or -
3. Burning coals are an image of divine justice - or -
4. Burning coals symbolize the smelting down of the enemy, love that conquers all.
Which do you think works the best? So as not to ruin it for you, I'll let you chew on it; this way, I won't ruin the sermon for you :)
Here's an exegetical help: always check to see if the verse is used elsewhere, whether directly or indirectly.