Jumping the Gun
seems to be a theme or a running context in the previous verses.
- vs.10 –
the righteous man trusts in the name of the Lord for his safety.
- vs.11 –the
rich man trusts in his wealth for his so called safety.
- vs.12 –the
proud man trusts in himself; and there is no safety…
- It is
possible that vs.13 continues that theme: another form of pride and trusting
in one’s own wisdom.
Solomon presents the case of a man who thinks he’s so smart, so
discerning, that he thinks he can make his conclusions without having
heard the whole story!
Solomon intended a connection to be made in these verses or not is a
matter of conjecture, I guess.
we connect this verse to the context or not, either way, it stands as a
profound observation of human behavior… an oft repeated failure of fallen
- And we
have ALL been guilty of this at one time or another.
- It is
one of those temptations that is common to man.
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it
= to return
- A matter
= speech; a word; an account; a statement; a case; an event; etc.
a matter means to reply to a story or a situation… giving a response, an
- Before he
- Hear = to
hear with attention or interest, listen to, to hear and thus understand;
Solomon is speaking about answering a matter that we have heard it.
(Various ways to fail here: )
We have heard
about the subject, but have not HEARD the case (Tom struck Fred with a bat!)
Or we do not
UNDERSTAND (Global warming)
Or we haven’t
heard the OTHER SIDE (Alice and Jane are fighting – and you have heard Jane’s
side of the story)
definitive answer before you have heard the case… or heard all of the case… or
understood the case… is foolish.
wants to be FIRST
in giving their opinion.
- When a
few details are revealed, it is human nature to want to be first to give
our opinion… our view… our judgment.
the TV game shows… they hear part of a question and are
quick to push the button. They ASSUME that they knew what the rest of the
question would be… but often their assumption was wrong. They give the
right answer but to the wrong question… and they lose.
- This is
the phenomenon Solomon observed and wrote about in vs.13.
- It is
human nature to jump the gun, speak before you have all the facts, and to
make assumptions based on a few pieces of information, and thus make
up our minds on the matter… before we hear the whole question… or the
whole story… or all the details.
- We hear ONE
side of the story… and assume we know enough to judge. We don’t
“need” to know any more.
- This is human
nature: we are quick to draw conclusions; we tend to make snap
judgments; quick to take sides; quick to condemn…
- There is
a perfect illustration of this aspect of human nature to be found in the
book of Joshua.
- Josh.22:4-6 – Ruebenites, Gadites, and ½
the tribe of Manasseh were being sent back to their homes after the
conquest of the land.
i. Their portion of the land fell on
the other side of the Jordan River…
ii. Jerusalem, the Temple, and the sacrificial system were on one
side of the Jordan. They were on the other side, cut off from the rest of the
iii. As they left, they were warned to
take diligent heed to the law.
- Josh.22:10 – When they arrived at home,
they built a great altar.
Naturally, word of the construction of this altar soon found its way to
the rest of the tribes of Israel.
- Josh.22:12 – Thus, the children of Israel gathered together, ready to fight against Rueben, Gad, & ½ the
tribe of Manasseh.
i. And didn’t they have every right to
ii. The Jews were NOT to build altars or
places of sacrifice outside of Jerusalem! The Temple of God was God’s place for
iii. Building a rival altar was what
Jeroboam did… the son of Nebat who made Israel to sin!
iv. God was outraged for centuries over
the sin of Jeroboam – in building an altar… a rival system of worship… built in
opposition to the altar in Jerusalem!
v. Building an altar for sacrifice was
completely contrary to the Law of Moses.
vi. It’s not hard to see why the tribes
of Israel were so upset at the news that an altar was being built on the other
side of Jordan.
vii. Righteous indignation would cause
people to become angry and ready to fight against their brethren if they saw a
rival altar being built.
viii. God is pleased when righteous
indignation is demonstrated by His people…
- Josh.22:15-20 – The children of Israel plead with them NOT to build the altar.
i. Vs.15-16 – What trespass is this
against the God of Israel.
ii. Vs.17 – they compare their altar to
the sin of Peor
iii. Vs.18 – they ask why they have
turned away from the Lord… and rebelling against the Lord. They also warn that
God’s wrath will be leveled against the whole nation for their rebellion.
iv. Vs.19 – Note also that they are
sensible and will to accommodate them.
If they needed
more land or better land, that could be arranged. The other tribes would give
up part of their land.
They offer them
a way around their rebellion.
Vs.20 – then
they warn about the sin of Achan whose actions brought wrath upon all the
– The response
of the 2 ½ tribes
i. Vs.22 – God knows that their actions were
not done out of rebellion… even though the Jews did not know.
ii. Vs. 24-25 – Their REAL reason for
building the altar was for their children…
iii. They were afraid that since they
were geographically cut off from Jerusalem, that their children might not feel
CONNECTED to the worship in Jerusalem.
iv. Vs.25 – they were afraid that in the
future, the other Jews might think of them as having no part in Jerusalem’s system of worship.
v. They were NOT trying to rebel
against the Lord. They were trying to PREVENT their children from ceasing to
vi. That which they were being accused
of was the very thing they were trying to PREVENT!
vii. Vs.27-28 – they wanted this altar to be a
WITNESS for generations to come… that they too were worshippers of Jehovah God…
just like their brethren on the other side of the river.
viii. Vs.10 – This altar was not built to be a functioning
altar – it was only an altar to “SEE”… to look at… as a witness…
ix. Vs.29 – they were horrified
at the thought of building an altar in rebelling against God… a rival system of
worship! That was repulsive to these God fearing men who loved the Lord.
– When the
Jews heard this, they were satisfied.
i. The war was averted.
Peace reigned again.
ii. What was the difference?
iii. One piece of information that they
did not possess before!
iv. They had gathered together for WAR
because they heard only one side of the story…
v. Thankfully they did not break out
vi. They decided to TALK first.
vii. And in talking they discovered a
missing piece of information that changed the whole dynamic of
viii. It would have been a FOLLY and
a SHAME to them had they fought without talking.
- The children
of Israel initially jumped to conclusions…
heard ONE simple fact – and were ready to start a war over it. (And came
i. That the altar was being built to
ii. That it was built in defiance
iii. That the people building it were
iv. That they were building a rival
system of worship.
v. That their sin was like that of Peor
vi. That judgment from heaven would fall
upon them all.
- And the
odd part of all this is that the conclusions they drew were so very
sensible… logical… Why else would they build an altar!?! It’s hard to
imagine any other purpose for building an altar.
conclusions seemed reasonable, but they were dead wrong.
It is folly and shame unto him
- The Bible
says it is foolish and shameful… yet we do the very same thing!
- We’ve all
done it. We’ve all heard pieces of a story, and immediately made up our
minds… formulated our opinions…
- There are
times when that might not make much difference, but there are other times
when it can mean disaster! (war among nations… between
friends… in a local church!)
observed in the local church setting what Solomon observed in Israel.
- In the
LC, when contentions among believers arise, people begin to polarize…
either on one side or the other in the conflict…
on the various sides chat together… and spread information… their side of
- Folks on
each side think they are right… and begin to get angry at folks on the
- And very
often, many folks only hear ONE side of the story. (Fred’s story or
- It is ALWAYS
foolish and shameful to hear one side of the story and make up
your mind based on an incomplete set of facts.
because everything you heard was accurate… it could give you a wrong
impression… and lead to wrong conclusions if it is incomplete.
every event you were told about was accurate… but the chronology
was not accurate. That can change the meaning of everything!
- Maybe a
little context to the statement would change your view… if
you heard it.
Fred’s statement would be understood differently if you were given
another piece of information: he said it in jest…
- My, oh
my how one little piece of information can change our
analysis of events.
a matter before we hear it truly is foolish and shameful!
before you judge a brother and write him off… or write off or your
relative… or your boss… or your employee… it’s a good idea to spend some
time gathering facts.
up our minds without knowing all the facts… judging a brother without
knowing all the facts… is part of our human nature… but it is a foolish
and shameful part!
warns us: don’t do it!
have started; marriages have ended; families destroyed; churches split;
friendships broken; lives ruined; reputations damaged… all because of men
have answered a matter before they heard it.