Apples of Gold in Settings of Silver

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Devotional Word for Thursday, May 14, 2020

Proverbs 25:11 is a fascinating verse. Here’s what it says: Like apples of gold in settings of silver, so is a word spoken in right circumstances. Stop for just a moment and try to get that image in your mind. Think of a solid gold apple, perfectly shaped, with a stem gracefully arching out from the top. The settings of silver might be an exquisite arrangement of apple leaves, each displaying the workmanship of a master craftsman so that one can see each vein and line of each leaf’s structure. The entire piece is a marvelous manifestation of artistic skill and vision, valuable in the extreme, something to be treasured. According to Proverbs, that is how we should see and value a word spoken in just the right circumstance with the exact message that needs to be heard. 

I would like for us to push this image in two directions: first the origins and artistry of the piece, and then how one receives it when it is given as a gift. We need to understand the image presented in Proverbs 25:11 is one of human beings. For it is human beings who speak the words and human beings who receive the words.

The gold and silver used to make the apple and its settings had to be mined from the earth. The gold and silver were encased in dirt and stones. All sorts of heavy-duty machinery was used to extract it from the earth. And when extracted, it’s still encased in dirt and stones. Through a process that melted the stones, the dirt, and the precious metals, the gold and silver were finally extracted. Psalm 12:6 lets us see how that happens: The words of the Lord are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. Can you imagine the process: all the dirt, stones, and metal are melted, the dirt and stones removed; one time. What is left is melted again, a second time; and, again, the non-precious elements are ladled off. A third time, what is left is melted and the non-precious elements are removed. The process is repeated until every little bit of non-precious material is gone; only pure gold or silver is left. This is not an overnight process. It takes time.
Skilled craftsmen, artists, take the purified gold or silver and transform it into the apple of gold and the settings of silver. To do so, they create a wax model. From the model they make a mold. That in itself is a complex process. The gold is heated to between 1,617- and 2,006-degrees Fahrenheit and then poured into the mold. Various methods are used to insure the gold flows into every area of the mold evenly. Once the gold or silver cools, it is removed from the mold, is cleaned, polished, and – finally! – is ready for use or display. 

Now for the application. When we receive that “word spoken in right circumstances,” we ought to be aware of the immense amount of work and expertise that has gone into the crafting of it. We receive it from God, but it comes through human vehicles! God has been at work, He’s the expert craftsman designing that particular “mold” or “vessel.” He is the One who orchestrates how it is to be brought into our lives. When He does bring it, how valuable and beautiful it is! We receive it with gratitude.

Just as amazing is the fact that God uses mere mortals like us as the vehicles to deliver such words. He extracts us from the earth and then exercises His workmanship in us so we can deliver that right word at the right time. How does that happen? Here’s an example from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. We need to know the Lord Jesus is orchestrating events in our lives. He will make it all work for good. 

We are not always aware when we bring that “right word.” I say this because I don’t want any of us to be intimidated by the thought that we might mess up in its delivery, that we might say the wrong thing. That’s a tactic of the devil. Let’s purpose to keep on walking with and living for the Lord while trusting that He will make use of us as He sees fit. Because He will do exactly that!

Tomorrow, we will consider some biblical examples of what this might look like. We’ll do so using the label of Spontaneous Moral Originality. That’s a phrase coined by Oswald Chambers. We might just as easily call it the delivery of apples of gold in settings of silver.

Let’s pray: O God, You are the great Craftsman! You made the world and everything in it. Thank You for the marvelous world You’ve made, and for Your ongoing creative work. We are mere jars of clay, but You can bring forth from us apples of gold in settings of silver. Help us be patient and faithful as You work in our lives. Thank You for taking us out of that deep pit of fallen humanity and making us Your own. May we walk in Your ways all our days. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.