Right Relationships Part II
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to Proverbs, chapter 27. We are in that section of the book of Proverbs which has been designated The Gleanings of Hezekiah's Men because of what you find in chapter 25, verse 1. Those gleanings include chapters 25-29. We are considering at the moment chapter 27, and we have found that this chapter falls naturally into two divisions. The first fourteen verses deal with right attitudesand verses 15-27 deal with right relationships.

We do recognize that there is a very thin line of difference between right attitudes and right relationships, and yet a close perusal of the chapter will reveal that there is a difference between the first fourteen verses and the last because the last portion of the chapter has more to do with attitudes as they are manifested in relation to other individuals.

I think it would be wise for us, since we are not able to consider this entire portion at one sitting, to notice exactly what we have in it and then consider the various parts of it individually. I am going to suggest the relationships which are mentioned in this chapter, some of them to be emulated, some of them to be avoided. As I mention the various relationships which are presented in the chapter, we will read the verses that have to do with those relationships, and we will find them thus to be the clearer.

Relationship of the Contentious Woman

The first relationship that we bring to your attention is the relationship of the contentious woman, which is brought to our attention in verses 15-16:

Proverbs 27:

15 A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
16 Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.

Relationship of the Challenger

In verse 17 we have a welcome change because there we are presented with the relationship of the challenger to those with whom he comes in contact:

Proverbs 27:

17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Relationship of the Conscientious Servant

Then there is presented to us the relationship of the conscientious servant in verse 18:

Proverbs 27:

18 Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.

Relationship of the Compassionate Man

In the next verse we have presented to us the compassionate man. We read in verse 19:

Proverbs 27:

19 As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.

Picture of the Covetous Man

In the next verses we have presented to us the picture of the covetous man. In verse 20 we read:

Proverbs 27:

20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

The Conceited Man

In verse 2, we see a picture of the conceited man. We read:

Proverbs 27:

21 As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.

The Callous Rebel

In verse 22, we see the picture of the callous rebel. We read:

Proverbs 27:

22 Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

You will keep in mind that we have learned that the fool in the book of Proverbs is a rebel against the truth and the will of God.

The Careful Man

In verses 23-27 we have the last individual in his relation mentioned to us, and we have termed this individual the careful man , as he is described in verse 23:

Proverbs 27:

23 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
24 For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
25 The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
26 The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

In these eight relationships we are going to see presented to us nearly every kind of problem that arises among believers today because even though the book of Proverbs, as we have consistently emphasized, is a practical book related to the things that are happening in everyday life, still the spiritual applications abound in the Word of God.

The Contentious Woman

Let us consider this lady about whom we have heard a number of things. She is called the contentious woman . Look again at the verse that brings her to our attention. Notice verse 15:

Proverbs 27:

15 A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.

The first part of the verse, a continual dropping—drip, drip, drip—that wears on one's nerves would indicate the kind of woman about whom we are speaking. However, we have met this woman, in the book of Proverbs four other times. In these verses it has been established that she is a wife. This contentious woman is a wife.

We need to establish in our minds exactly what we are thinking about when we refer to this contentious woman because some of you may have been so fortunate as to not have had any contact with this contentious woman because, as the Scripture says: “He that has found a wife from the LORD has found a good thing.” If you found your wife from the LORD, then you have not found a woman that is contentious.

You need to know what such a woman is that you might praise the LORD for his goodness to you, so we might remind you that in two of the passages of Scripture to which we have referred, she is referred to as a contentious woman. In two of the passages of Scripture to which we have referred, she is referred to as a brawling woman. A contentious woman may discourage one person; a brawling woman upsets a whole household. If we consider everything for which this woman is responsible, we could express it all in the meaning of the Hebrew word from which this word contentious comes. It comes from the Hebrew word madown , and it is a reference to a creator of discord and strife. This contentious woman creates discord and strife. If she is a wife, then we could say that she creates discord and strife within her own household.

If we were to examine these references that we gave you just a few moments ago, we would find that one of them tells the story of how this contentious woman drives her children away from home. Sometimes parents wonder why their children want to leave home at the first opportunity, sometimes even running away from home. A contentious wife and a brawling mother can be the reason for it oftentimes.

In two of these passages of Scripture we discover that this contentious woman drives her husband away from home, not in the sense of a divorce in every case; but in one case she drives him out to the athletic field where he wants to spend all his time either in sports or before the television watching sports. The other verse says that she drives him away to the hunting ground every hunting season.

This is not to suggest that if a man goes hunting he has got a contentious wife, but some wives may wonder why it is that their husbands would rather go hunting than stay at home. The answer may be found right here because this is what the Scripture says is true.

The other passage of Scripture to which we referred emphasizes that she creates an attitude of peace at any price. Rather than hear these continual droppings to which we have made reference, the idea is we will have peace no matter what it takes.

In the text at which we have already looked, verse 15 indicates something else about her and we have already touched upon it; that is, she can be the cause of a nervous breakdown. There is nothing that will drive a man out of his mind as much as a continual dropping, or putting it upon a level of which we are speaking, a nagging wife.

The sad thing about it is that in verse 16, we are told that, humanly speaking, such a person is well nigh incurable; she is well nigh unchangeable. If you are expecting to change her, you probably won't be able to, for you read there in verse 16:

Proverbs 27:

16 Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.

That verse is not very intelligible to most of us as we read it. I dare say if I were going to ask you to tell me exactly what it meant, we would not get the full depth of meaning in our King James text, so let me suggest to you that this verse is rendered in the Living Bible by the words: “You can no more stop her complaints than you can stop the wind or hold on to anything with oiled hands.”

That makes it more effective, doesn't it? You can't stop the wind and if you have ever tried to hold on to anything with your hands covered with oil, you know how almost impossible, if not impossible, such a thing is. It is a difficult thing. What I said to you is that, humanly speaking, this woman is well nigh incurable, but I am glad that we are not always limited altogether to that which is human. I am glad that there is power in God to change the situation.

I would like for you to keep a marker here in Proverbs, chapter 27, and turn back a page or two to chapter 13, and notice verse 10 because I think we will have brought to our attention something that will help us to understand the reason this woman is in the condition she is. Notice verse 10:

Proverbs 13:

10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

Notice the first part of that verse, please: “Only by pride cometh contention…” That lets us in on a little secret. It lets us in on a secret that there is hope, for it tells us that the contentious woman basically is full of pride, and we who understand the Word of God know that pride is an indication that the Holy Spirit is not operating in the believer's life. For when the Holy Spirit is operating in the believer's life, the believer's heart is filled with the love of God. In I Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 4-5, which describe the love of God, we are told that love vaunteth not itself and is not puffed up, so when an individual is doing what he is doing on the basis of pride, he has grieved the Holy Spirit, so the Holy Spirit cannot work.

If we were to take the time to turn to James, chapter 3, and read the paragraph which begins with verse 14, and concludes with verse 18, we would find a description of wisdom which is given by the Holy Spirit, just as love is given by the Holy Spirit; and the characteristic of this divine wisdom is the lack of contention that it causes. When divine wisdom is exercised there is no contention, and so putting it very simply in a way that we all ought to be able to grasp, this contentious woman, who cannot be helped, humanly speaking, any more than you can hold back the wind or hold on to something with oil slick hands, can be helped if she gets right with God.

I would like to suggest to you that many of the problems for which there is no solution, and many of the problems we feel are beyond all hope and we just have to live with them, need not be so dealt with, for the individual in question can be taken to the Lord.

The Challenger

I am glad that we can change our trend of thought and that we can pass from this contentious woman, who is certainly not a lovely person nor one about whom we like to think, to another person that I like to think about. I have termed this person the challenger . You may want to designate him by some other name, and if you do that is quite all right, but notice what is written in verse 17:

Proverbs 27:

17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

I wonder why I referred to his man as a challenger. The reason is the thrust of the verse is in the word sharpeneth . “As iron sharpens iron so doth a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” This word sharpeneth comes from the Hebrew word chadad which when used with the word countenance may be translated by the phrase, “show a worthy purpose.” What in the world are we talking about? Simply this: You, as a believer, in contact with your friend, can, as the New English Bible puts it, “sharpen the wit of another just in contact and conversation,” or, as the New American Standard puts it, “so one sharpeneth another.” You, as a believer, can challenge another believer to greater heights and greater victories and greater ideas of strength.

Turn in your Bibles to the book of Hebrews that I might give you an illustration of something that every believer would be able to do. You know that there are some of us who feel there are certain things that we are not capable of doing. We just don't have the talent; we don't have the ability—however we may want to express it—to minister for the glory of the Lord. Notice chapter 10, the paragraph which begins with verse 24. In the midst of a number of exhortations is this particular one. Verse 24:

Hebrews 10:

24 And let us consider one another to provoke…

If we were to stop right there, it might sound like we are going to talk about this contentious woman because she does provoke. Some of us are thoughtlessly provoking people, but this kind of provocation is wonderful. Notice as we read:

Hebrews 10:

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

As iron sharpeneth iron, so does the man the countenance of his friend. You can provoke an individual to life. You can provoke an individual to good works. You can provoke an individual by your life and by your testimony to any number of things. Notice what I said: by your testimony, by your life. That means that they have to see it, doesn't it? That is exactly why you find the exhortation in the next verse. Notice verse 25:

Hebrews 10:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

In this day when the epistle to the Hebrews was written, the day that is referred to here was not necessarily the day of the coming of the Lord, though certainly it could have included that, but more nearly historically speaking, the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. They felt that they were reaching the end of an age, and they were; and we are reaching the end of the age, believe me, but they said, “Now, so much the more, as you see the day approaching…” What do you do? Go to pieces? No, you go to church. Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together, but notice, “exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” The manner of some is to forsake the place of assembly, but don't you do that. You go. Why? Because your very presence in the assembly can be a benediction and a blessing to somebody else. Your example can exhort them to love and to good works.

We remind you that the challenger described to us in the book of Proverbs as the individual who sharpens the countenance of his friend could well describe you. You have a ministry of encouragement. You have a ministry of example. You have a ministry of exhortation. Why don't you try sharpening a little iron, in the words of our text?

The Conscientious Servant

The third relationship that we would bring to your attention we have described with the terms the conscientious servant . We will go back to Proverbs, chapter 27, and notice what the Spirit of God has been pleased to say about the conscientious servant in verse 18:

Proverbs 27:

18 Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.

There are two truths taught in this particular verse. One of them is that the laborer is worthy of his hire. The conscientious servant is worthy of his hire. That is what is said in the first part of verse 18. Notice again:

Proverbs 27:

18 Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof…

This does not mean that maybe he will eat the fruit thereof, and perhaps he will eat the fruit thereof, but it means that he is entitled to eat the fruit thereof. Turn, please, to Paul's first Corinthian letter, chapter 9, to notice a New Testament exhortation along this same line, for the sake of emphasis. Notice beginning in verse 9:

I Corinthians 9:

9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

The words carnal things simply mean “material things,” and what the Apostle Paul is saying to these Corinthian believers is: “If I have taken all of my time to minister to you in spiritual things so that I don't have time to go out and hold down a job, then it is a very small thing in comparison if I share in your material things.” In other words, “You have the responsibility of taking care of my needs if I am faithful in giving out the Word of God.”

In this particular instance, Paul said that he did not take advantage of this which was his right because he had a special object in mind, and he did not want that to interfere with the object in any way whatsoever. This is the same thing that the Lord Jesus Christ said Himself when He said, “If you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these other things will be added unto you.”

It was the same thing that James said when he said, “The husbandman waiteth for the early and the latter rain that he might be the first partaker of the fruit of the harvest.”

Go back to Proverbs, chapter 27. We recognize that this verse teaches not only that the servant is worthy of his hire, but it emphasizes to us that a reward will be most definitely following faithful work. Look again at Proverbs, chapter 27, verse 18:

Proverbs 27:

18 Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: [now notice the second statement] so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.

The word waiteth is an interesting word. It comes from the Hebrew word shamar which means “to guard the interest of someone,” so we are reading here in the text that the individual who guards the interest of his master shall be rewarded. This, we may as well recognize, to be perfectly honest, is not always true in our secular world. In the secular world in which we live, quite often a man gives the best part of his life, the greater number of years of his life, in faithful service to an individual or to a corporation, and is let out, as we say today, when he is too old to get into any other kind of work. Certainly he considers it a great injustice because he has been faithful in guarding the interests of his employer, and it has meant absolutely nothing; but remember, we have emphasized to you that there is a spiritual as well as a material emphasis of these truths. We remind you that it may be true on earth that if you guard the interests of your master, you will not be rewarded. It is not so in Heaven. We can be absolutely sure that every conscientious servant of our Lord Jesus Christ will find praise of God at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and you will have to wait until then.

You know, we make a mistake sometimes in our terminology. When a loved one dies we say, “Well, So-and-so has gone to his reward.” That isn't true. So-and-so has gone to be with the Lord. That is not a reward; that is grace. You go to be with the Lord purely and simply because you are a sinner saved by grace. The reward comes at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the Judgment Seat of Christ has not yet been in session. It will not yet be in session until the Lord Jesus Christ comes for His Church. After the Church has been taken out of this world, the Tribulation begins on the earth, and somewhere in that seven year period the Judgment Seat of Christ will be in session and all of us will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive the reward of the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad.

When we speak of there being good or bad, we don't mean you will be punished if they are bad. We simply mean whether they will be good or worthless. In the terms of the Corinthian letter, whether they will be wood, hay and stubble, or gold and silver and precious stones. The day will declare it. You and I don't have the ability to. Oh, we practice it quite often. We are critical of some people and we say that what they are doing isn't worth anything for God. Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “Don't you judge anything before the time. You are not capable of it. You don't know.” At the Judgment Seat of Christ it will be determined whether it is wood, hay, stubble, or gold, silver and precious stones.

Perhaps there is a thought in your mind, which is, “How can I tell? I don't want to be wasting all of my time building wood, hay and stubble when I could be building out of gold, silver, and precious stones? How may I be sure?”

There are two ways you can be sure. One is from the Word of God. The Word of God sets the value on eternal things, and you can tell from your study of the Word of God whether that in which you are engaged is coming under the designation of wood, hay, and stubble, or gold, silver, and precious stones. The other way, of course, is through the direction of the Holy Spirit. If you are in fellowship, following the leading of the Lord, walking in the Spirit, you can be sure that God will direct you through the Holy Spirit to that kind of labor that will, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, be declared gold, silver, and precious stones.

You can examine your life and see if you are a conscientious servant, guarding well the interests of your Master, and you can take hope in knowing that while you are guarding the interests of your Master, your Master will be taking care of you, for that is His obligation.

The Compassionate Man

One last person we want to look at I have referred to as “ the compassionate man ”. It is not really a good designation because it emphasizes only one phase of the text, but it emphasizes the phase that has always appealed to me. Notice verse 19:

Proverbs 27:

19 As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.

You will notice that the word answereth there is in italics and that means that it is not in the original text, so the verse could read: “As in water face to face, so the heart man to man.”

When you look into a clear stream of water, what do you see? You see your face, don't you? When you look into the heart of man, what ought you to see? You ought to see your own heart, for that is what the Bible says is there. Of course, there is a sense in which we cannot look into the heart of man. The Bible says, “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.” We cannot, strictly speaking, look into the heart of man, but in the light of the text in another rendering, we read: “A mirror reflects a man's face, but what he is really like is shown by the kinds of friends he chooses.”

Though we cannot look into the heart of man in the strictest sense of the word, like begets like. We gravitate toward that which is interesting to us. When we recognize that, we might be able to understand the truth of this proverb. All of the hearts of men are the same. We have the habit of speaking of some individuals' being worse than others, but if you are talking about the heart, we are all afflicted with the same kind of heart trouble. It's bad. You have a bad heart, Friend; so have I. Not one of us has a good heart. We have a heart that is full of rebellion against God. We have a heart that is full of every nasty, dirty thing that it is conceivable for you to think about. So when you talk about individuals who have done things that you wouldn't do, you go look in a clear stream of water and when you see your face clearly looking back at you, you remember that what is in that other man's heart is in your heart, too.

Of course, through the power of God, it is possible for man to have a new heart—a heart that is presented through the Holy Spirit, a heart not made of flesh, full of all the things that we are talking about, but a heart that is tender toward God. That is the reason I have used the term to describe this individual, the compassionate man , for I like to think that there is in the heart of individuals who know the Lord Jesus Christ that compassion that will respond to the needs in the hearts of other men.

Turn with me, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 12. There is a list of exhortations here related to a number of different things, but I want you to notice, with me, particularly verse 15, where I read:

Romans 12:

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

This is heart language that I am using. You know, you can address a man's head and fill him with all kinds of knowledge, and not accomplish anything much; but you can speak to a man's heart, and before long his head will be opened so that he will be willing to receive what you say.

I have told you many times over, and I repeat it again, that through the years I have asked God to make my heart tender toward men. I have asked God to never let my heart run out of compassion, to never let me run out of sympathy, to make me especially sensitive to the needs of men. As heart answers to heart (this is the reason I used the term compassionate man ) I want my heart to be able to answer to the heart of the individual who is in need of compassion and sympathy.

Of course, we can always—and how happy we are to do it—rejoice with them who do rejoice. That is an easy thing to do, but unless we are particularly sensitive to the Holy Spirit, unless we are particularly alert to the needs of men, we will not be as compassionate and understanding as we should be.


Beloved, if you see yourself as a contentious woman, slip away to a quiet place with God and ask Him to cure you. He can do it. I am sure we have some challengers with us here, individuals who because of the life they live or the testimony they give, provoke other people to love and good works. I would suggest that if you haven't lately sharpened any iron, in the words of our text, you should sharpen some tomorrow. Provoke somebody to some love and to some good works. I am sure that we have conscientious servants here, but perhaps all of us need to be reminded that we must guard the interests of our Master carefully. It might be wise for us to be reminded that it won't be long until we will have to give an account of that which has been entrusted to our care. I know that we have some compassionate people among us. I wish that we had more. Perhaps it would be good if you would ask God to give you a tender heart toward the needs of others.

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