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11 A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear.
There is so much contained in these verses that we will visit them for two days . . . hang in there with me, and I hope we'll get a lot from this study.
We've talked and studied before about our language. We've discussed the words that we choose, and how we say them, and to whom they are said. Solomon is using some picturesque language here, comparing words "fitly" spoken to golden apples --- things of great value.
Words can mean different things to different people, can't they? Have you ever considered why a doctor in business calls it a "practice"? How about why when it's a road we drive on, it's called a "parkway" and when it's where we park our jalopy, it is called a "driveway"?
As a blogger, I've run across situations where someone who speaks a different language than I do, has left a comment that confuses me. Even after using a translation site, I'm not sure what they mean. And when I answer them, sometimes they don't know what I am saying! Here's an example of problems with translation: the Pepsi slogan "Come alive with the Pepsi generation" means "Pepsi will bring back your ancestors from the dead" to someone in Taiwan. Similarly, years ago the General Motors car called the "Nova" didn't sell very well in South America. Why? The word meant "it won't go" in Spanish.
You can see that the words that we choose don't always have the effect that we desire. And sometimes we don't know what words to choose, and we can even choose words that end up doing more harm than good.
But there are times when the words we speak have very little meaning at all . . . Sometimes they are just plain shallow.
How many times have we asked each other "How are you doing?" "Good to see you." "Have a nice day." Are we being polite, or do we really mean it?
Some words sound good but they really are bad for us --- they can destroy us. In Jeremiah's day, there were false prophets who simply said what the people wanted to hear; they didn't speak the truth. They ended up being punished for those false words. Lots of people today have that same issue: when they go to church they want to hear words that sound good, and make them feel good, and they are not as interested in the truth. After all, the truth is sometimes uncomfortable.
God's word may not always tell me what I want to hear --- but it is always something that I need to hear.
Language is a gift from God, and can be so very powerful. Our words can hurt or heal, unite or divide, build up or tear down. They can make someone very happy, or make them very sad.
We'll visit this passage again tomorrow . . .