Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Heap Coals of Fire... - November 2nd, 2011

  21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the LORD will reward you.
Proverbs 25:21-22

History and Context:
King Solomon, son of King David, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote the majority of the proverbs in order to share his wisdom. Many of his proverbs have become common sayings in today's society and people don't even realize that they are from the Bible. Proverbs are one line nuggets of wisdom, therefore there is not really any context to consider as this line stands by itself. At the beginning of the book of Proverbs Solomon addresses his 'son' which have led many to believe that he wrote this book for his biological son, but it could also simply be a term for any younger man that happens to read the sayings.

The Text:
The first verse is quite self-explanatory. If your enemy is in need you should serve him just like you would a friend. No one is completely sure of the true meaning of heaping coals of fire on their head, but there are a few theories. Many try to say that it is talking about 'burning' goodness into their hearts whereas others say it is referring to the 'burning' shame that comes when evil is answered by goodness but to me the most likely meaning is that of a reference to an Egyptian ritual. In ancient Egypt the Egyptians would carry a pan of hot coals on their head as a public sign of their repentance. this would mean that Solomon is saying that by serving your enemies you will cause them to repent of their actions and attitudes toward you.

The Challenge:
Today's challenge is simple; do good to your enemies. When someone acts mean or evil towards you, respond in love. This same idea is spoken out by Jesus in the new testament when he commands us to 'do good to those who spitefully use you'. Respond in kindness and watch the change happen in that person over time.

The Prayer:
Lord, change my heart so that I can truly love those people who have become my enemies. Help me to respond to them in kindness. Change my heart. In Jesus' name, Amen!


  1. Hi Matthew,
    This is a great example of the importance of knowing God and the one he sent forth, Jesus Christ.
    I have actually heard people say that verse is encouraging a vengeful act or attitude. --To only be kind to someone who is mean to you, so that it will hurt them in some way, or make them angry.

    But knowing what Jesus taught helps us to know that could not be what it means.

    I believe that it means to be genuinely kind to those who persecute you, and it will change their attitude. And its true, it does.
    It doesnt always show on the outside, but real love shown towards others makes a difference.

    Here is a page that shows what I think the 'coals of fire' part means...

    Smelting is a process by which heat is used to separate impurities from metal. --I believe heaping 'fiery coals' of kindness on a persons head can help remove the 'impurities' in their hearts. :)

  2. Hey Jayme, Good to hear from you! :) It's true, I've always taught the importance of knowing the message of the Bible as a whole. Often when we talk about context we simply talk about the book that the verse comes in but we need take the book in context with the Bible as a whole as well. Thanks for your link and your insight. I completely agree.