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Proverbs 25:21,22

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  • Proverbs 25:21,22

    We are told to be kind to our enemy because, in so doing, we will heap coals of fire on his head and the Lord will reward us.
    Please explain the meaning of heaping coals of fire on the head.

    The article about loving enemies over in Christian Chat explains that heaping coals of fire is a kindness. I'm skeptical of that explanation. Has anyone studied this? I'm looking for some reliable insight. Thanks.

  • #2
    In context, it must be a kindness. There are some commentaries here http://www.bible.cc/proverbs/25-21.htm.

    I believe that the heaping fiery coals signify mental distress caused by the one done evil to turning around to do kindness in return. The hope is that the evildoer will repent. That is love - working toward the highest good of someone.
    "...earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3b


    Jesus + something = nothing

    Jesus + nothing = Everything

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    • #3
      Have you ever had someone do something incredibly rude and inappropriate and then you came back with a kind response?It is very hard to do but it really throws them off.

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      • #4
        I always took the heaping of coals to be a means of causing distress that would in the ideal situation lead them to repentance which would be for their good in the end. That seems to be your understanding too, iSong.

        The explanation that it would heap coals in a carrier on their heads so they could warm their homes is a bit odd to me.

        I want to know the true meaning of the verse.

        Yes, Imsaved, I am currently in a complicated situation where I have stopped pursuing legal recourse for fraud and other crimes committed against me and I have told those involved that though what they did was wrong, I am extending mercy because I am a Christian. I am hoping that will compel them to feel ashamed and repent but so far they seem to be giggling that they got away with it all without recourse. I won't allow myself to regret that I did not carry out justice because I know the Lord will do it in the end. Long story. But I do want to understand all that the Lord would have us to know from this verse and I want my understanding to be what the Lord really meant.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by JPE View Post
          I always took the heaping of coals to be a means of causing distress that would in the ideal situation lead them to repentance which would be for their good in the end. That seems to be your understanding too, iSong.
          It would be mine as well.

          The act in view is the verse before it.

          21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:

          22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.
          The thing is, even if it was somehow representative of helping ones neighbor in that way, its still the act of kindness which would be in view, hopefully leading to repentance. So it comes back to the same idea. You are a kind lady to show mercy.
          Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

          Joel 3:2

          I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

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          • #6
            It could mean that in showing love towards someone who is an enemy is leaving room for God's punishment. Rom12:19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.

            It first appears in Proverbs 25:22.

            And in Psalm 140: 10 :"May burning coals fall upon them; May they be cast into the fire, Into deep pits from which they cannot rise. (NASB)

            Not an explaination I partcularly like but, well, it may be the right one. And I'm not suggesting that we act in the love in the hope that God's wrath will fall on someone. That would not be love. But perhaps more along the lines of acting in love and trusting God and letting Him work in someone's life - perhaps it means that people heap up their sins on their heads. Let's hope not.
            The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deu 33:27a)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by HeIsEnough View Post
              The thing is, even if it was somehow representative of helping ones neighbor in that way, its still the act of kindness which would be in view, hopefully leading to repentance. So it comes back to the same idea. You are a kind lady to show mercy.
              Thanks. I'm a broken hearted lady too, and I'm trusting the Lord to work things out for good in the end.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by JPE View Post
                I'm trusting the Lord to work things out for good in the end.
                That is a sure thing.

                I've been there in my own way. There is much comfort in knowing you did a good thing, it will grow as time goes on I'm sure. Its that bitter root that is a danger.
                Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

                Joel 3:2

                I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pmarks2 View Post
                  Let's hope not.
                  It is possible, but the context makes it a much more difficult interpretation, I believe.
                  Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

                  Joel 3:2

                  I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HeIsEnough View Post
                    That is a sure thing.

                    I've been there in my own way. There is much comfort in knowing you did a good thing, it will grow as time goes on I'm sure. Its that bitter root that is a danger.
                    Yes,although as humans we naturally want to see someone get what they have coming to them.That is just the way we are.It takes prayer and Gods help to pray and be kind to our enemies.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by IMSAVED View Post
                      Yes,although as humans we naturally want to see someone get what they have coming to them.
                      That sounds a whole lot like a bitter root. We need to actively work against something like that taking hold, though you likely meant that anyway.
                      Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

                      Joel 3:2

                      I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HeIsEnough View Post
                        That sounds a whole lot like a bitter root. We need to actively work against something like that taking hold, though you likely meant that anyway.
                        You are right that is exactly what I was trying to say.A bitter root is the possible first reaction of a human. We are only human.Can anyone say that they have never experienced that?We need to pray against that.Does that make sense?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by IMSAVED View Post
                          We need to pray against that.Does that make sense?
                          Yes, it makes sense, prayer is also necessary. But I am also saying we need to actively work against it, to take hold of our thoughts and subject them to the will of Christ. Remind ourselves why we took the actions we did and live in His peace.
                          Don't panic! Just be Rapture Ready.

                          Joel 3:2

                          I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I agree so much with you both about the temptation to be bitter and yes, I know prayer definitely does help. It's also helpful to dwell on the truth that GOD IS JUST. When He tells us He will repay, He means it. So we can remove the burden from our own shoulders.

                            I also find it helpful to try to imagine how I would feel as my enemies' mother. I know that sounds strange, but it helps me to love them even though they're trying to hurt me. I imagine they are my children and then think about how God loves them even more than a mother would. I think of the terrible childhoods that I know they had and how heartbroken I would be if my own children suffered the same way. That helps me to understand where they are coming from, though their behavior is still not acceptable. But it helps to turn the bitterness into pity, which helps me to love them more easily.

                            Sounds strange, I agree. But it works well to help me love otherwise unlovable people.

                            I'll add that it's not too much of a stretch for me because my persecutors are family members and my two very lovely children happen to look a lot like them. I am convinced the Lord caused my children to look like them in order to help me have compassion on them and pray for them as much as I have been able to do.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JPE View Post
                              We are told to be kind to our enemy because, in so doing, we will heap coals of fire on his head and the Lord will reward us.
                              Please explain the meaning of heaping coals of fire on the head.

                              The article about loving enemies over in Christian Chat explains that heaping coals of fire is a kindness. I'm skeptical of that explanation. Has anyone studied this? I'm looking for some reliable insight. Thanks.
                              Probably the meaning is that in being kind to our enemies we will cause them to feel shame and remorse, making them turn to God. Some commentators cite an ancient Egyptian ritual in which a person would carry a pan of hot coals on their head as sign of repentance (I've also heard a ritual where they give coals to someone as a sign of repentance since they were, so the argument goes, seen as valueable to desert people)

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