Proverbs 25 continues to guide us on life’s journeys. We’re urged to be reliable and trustworthy, keeping people’s confidences (Prov 25:9-10), understanding the value of words:
“the right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewellery and a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.” (Prov 25:11-12)

Not only should we watch our words to other people; we need to be careful what we say (and think) about ourselves: it’s not for us to exalt ourselves. Better to wait for others to do that! (Prov 25:6-7) We also need to be careful not to jump to conclusions hastily: “there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you saw.” (Prov 25:8). That reminded me of the ‘Vicar of Dibley’ episode where Geraldine sees her boyfriend with his sister and assumes they are romantically involved, leading to much anguish on Geraldine’s part (including a very funny scene where she imagines them getting married and interrupting the service with the song ‘It Should Have Been Me’! )

Proverbs has so much to teach us about how to live rightly: “patient persistence pierces through indifference; gentle speech breaks down rigid defences” (Prov 25:15) and “singing light songs to the heavyhearted is like pouring salt in their wounds” (Prov 25:20) are both valuable reminders of how to deal with life situations wisely. Our words should be our bond: reliable friends are like a cool drink on a hot day, but if we talk big and never do what we say, we are ‘like billowing clouds that bring no rain’ (Prov 25:13-14) .

Perhaps the most intriguing verse for me in Proverbs 25 is right at the start, however; when we read “God delights in concealing things; scientists delight in discovering things.” (Prov 25:1) We live in an age where knowledge and discovery are highly prized and we often talk about ‘the God of revelation’. Yet at times we have to admit that God seems better at hiding things than revealing them. Jesus spoke to His disciples in parables (Matt 13:13-15), partly, it seems, to make people really think about what He was saying rather than handing explanations out on a plate. Isaiah (quoted in Matthew 13) tells us also “Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Saviour of Israel.” (Is 45:15) We don’t always understand why God, at times, seems to hide His presence. We know He is always with us (Matt 28:20, Heb 13:5) and that He is near to us (Phil 4:5), but at times we feel as though He is a million miles away and are often told that that is our fault: “if you feel God’s a long way away, you’re the one who’s moved.” I appreciate what the writer means by that comment, but I do think there are times when God works in ways we don’t understand, not because He is capricious or cruel, but because we learn more through that experience than if He simply told us all we needed to know instantaneously. As a teacher, I know the value to pupils of discovering answers for themselves, rather than simply writing down what I tell them. I can remember the time I watched a French film and was struggling to understand the dialogue and suddenly illumination came and the words made sense to me, tying together all the strands of learning. It was a light-bulb moment for me, and I believe God delights in concealing things at times so that we dig deep to find Him and when we do, that light bulb is turned on and revelation is so much more precious.