August 09, 2020 | Books of the Bible | Proverbs by Stef Dowd
"If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife."
Everyone exalts various things, people, and causes. In our foolish and sinful natures, we rob God of the exaltation due Him. We will promote ourselves, others, or causes as they benefit us. In Proverbs 30:32, we see advice designed to protect us from foolishly exalting ourselves - "put your hand on your mouth."
"Exalt" is defined as "holding in very high regard," "thinking highly of," or "glorifying." You may wonder why holding oneself in high regard would be foolish. After all, having a high regard for oneself or one's passions is necessary for confidence and self-esteem. In verse 33, God quickly shows what self-exaltation produces: anger. Foolish anger drives us to strife. Strife is "discord," "fight," or even "warfare." There have been more than enough happenings in our sinful world to prove this proverb right!
The advice seems extreme and somewhat disheartening, but God, in His mercy, offers a choice. If exalting oneself is foolish, the opposite, promoting God, is wise! Let's consider how verse 32 might read with a different exaltation point of view: "If you are wise, exalting God, you will devise good things, and will open your mouth to proclaim him!" If we press this point of view into verse 33, wisdom will produce delight and, in turn, build peace.
John Piper said, "God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving thing. Anyone else who exalts himself distracts us from what we need, namely, God." As Christians, we are not to foolishly distract others from God by exalting ourselves but are to wisely exalt God and champion the Gospel.
Again we see two paths. One is a foolish path, producing anger and strife, drawing the world away from God, and hindering the spread of the Gospel. In contrast, a wise way produces delight and peace, exalting God to the world, advancing the Gospel.
- What do you "think highly of" or "exalt?" This will probably be where you spend most of your time or what/who you often think of.
- Do you distract others from God or turn their focus to the Gospel?
- Pray for wisdom to identify areas in your life of self-exaltation.
- Pray for opportunities to exalt God through sharing the Gospel.