My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

21 April 2006


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.


Tamara said...

I won't chew. Three, no doubt in my mind. By the way, my young adult's is doing a Biblw study of Proverbs too. It is most interesting. God bless the sermon.

Mike Spreng said...

I've always thought of that proverb as one that refers to "shame." That's the basis of helping people who are at odds with you. Your ethics pour conviction on them. And we know that these ethics (the Law) drives people to repentance (shame).

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