The old saying, “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.” Agur instructs us to put the hand over the mouth to cut off its evil. Otherwise, trouble will come pressing down on you.
We are at the end of Agur’s words in Proverbs. I had to look to my bible helps to try and understand his meaning. I trust the scholars have it figured out.
In my own examining of our verses, verse 32 was easy to grasp. Put your hand over your mouth to stop the evil, foolishness, or bragging. VERY good advice! These behaviors will lead you into trouble. But verse 33 had me wondering. The pressing of milk to get curds could be seen as either good or bad. If you wanted curds, then the action is good. If you didn’t want curds but couldn’t keep you milk from being ‘pressed’ then it would be a bad thing.
I didn’t think pressing a nose would be positive at all. It sounded like a punch instead of a press. But because I didn’t know the intent of the other two references, I wasn’t willing to rule it as either bad or good.
“Pressing anger” was a little confusing too. Is the ‘pressing’ like stuffing it down in your spirit? Is it pushing someone who is already angry even further? Is it pressing on forward, no matter what stands in your way?
My bible helps says; “Those given to obnoxious and conniving behavior would do well to become quiet and still, or they will soon be embroiled in conflict” (Proverbs-Note On 30:31-32, ESV Bible). That makes sense. This puts all three examples as negative results.
Growing up, and early in adulthood, my temper got me into trouble. Whether it was through an ‘explosion’, ‘stuffing it’, or trying to convince someone I was right, those times never turned out well. When I would ‘explode’ and say something out of anger to someone, I always wound-up wounded too. I felt their pain AND my own shame. Seldom did my explosions fix anything. Stuffing my anger didn’t work either because my mom saw through my ‘quiet resolve’ and pushed to find out the root of my anger. Her pushing actually made me angrier. “I get in trouble when I say something and in trouble when I don’t” was how I felt. And I could NEVER convince her things were fine.
The only way out of my trouble was to keep from getting into it in the first place. STOP TALKING and start walking when tempers flared around or within me. Getting distance and perspective can end a fight before it really starts. That’s the lesson I learned the hard way.
I also learned that there are some ‘battles’ worth fighting. Those ones are NEVER for self-importance, evil, or foolish reasons. Ones that have eternal consequences are certainly worth standing firm for, no matter the pressure that comes. Just as pressing the nose can bring blood, pressing the coal can bring a diamond. KNOW which pressing is important and be willing to endure that pressing.
Father God, THANK YOU for working on my temper and attitude. I know I made life more difficult for myself and those around me when I let my temper rule. THANK YOU that I am, and always was, MORE than just my temper. I pray the better qualities shone through too. Keep working on my spirit Father with the good kind of pressing. And thank You for helping me understand Your word. I don’t know what I would do without my bible helps and those who wrote them. I KNOW that You protect Your word and preserve it for all generations. I trust that You would have put a stop to ‘strange’ translations if/when they popped up.