Be Not Hasty to Strive
1. The subject at hand in this proverb is strife.
a. Strive: Contend; argue; debate; quarrel; bring legal charges against; raise complaints or accusation against someone.
b. The term Solomon used is broad enough to include ALL kinds of disagreements and debates.
c. Some commentators are sure that he is speaking about law suits in particular.
d. While the term used certainly could include lawsuits, it seems to have a much broader meaning.
e. It could include anything from a squabble among friends, to a lawsuit, and even a war between nations.
f. People get into all kinds of disagreements that never rise to the level of a lawsuit.
g. We have all experienced strife in one form or another—many times over! It is a problem that is common to man.
h. We have all been accused of things that we didn’t do or say.
i. We have all had people complain about us, our work, our family, our words, etc. It’s not very pleasant.
j. In a world with seven billion sinners, there will continue to be strife, debates, arguments, fights, and lawsuits… even wars.
k. This is a reality of life and we will not be able to avoid it entirely until glory.
2. The command: Go not forth
a. This verb is used often and means to go in or to go out.
b. It is used in many different contexts.
c. Here it simply means to go towards something… namely, going towards a fight or an argument or an accusation against someone.
d. Solomon is warning his readers NOT to enter into strife.
e. Of course, sometimes, there is no way to avoid strife.
f. Sometimes it is necessary to bring an accusation against another.
• We live under the constant threat of a terrorist attack.
• Our government has told us that “if you see something, say something.”
• There are times when it is perfectly appropriate and right to bring an accusation against someone, especially if they are up to no good and might harm someone.
g. This proverb does not outright forbid bringing an accusation against another person, or ever taking someone to court.
• In fact, it was God who established human government and established a judicial system for this very reason.
• Solomon lived under the Mosaic Law and the Law provided the legal procedures for taking someone to court.
• In fact, Solomon himself acted as a judge from time to time.
• He is not forbidding lawsuits or accusations against others altogether.
3. The specific nature of the command: Do not go forth hastily.
a. Hastily: Quickly, speedily; in a hurry to get something done or accomplished.
b. Solomon is not forbidding us from entering into strife or a debate or making an accusation against another person.
c. He is however, forbidding us to do so hastily!
d. The specific command is that we are not to make snap judgments and instantly accuse someone without all the facts.
e. We are not to assume things and enter into a debate on the basis of assumptions and gut feelings.
f. We are not to quickly judge a person and level a complaint against them.
g. In time, it may be necessary, but give it time!
h. Do not go forth hastily to strive with anyone.
i. James tells us: “Be slow to wrath.”
j. Solomon tells us: “Be slow to accuse; to argue; to enter into a fight with someone.”
k. Don’t act on impulse or passion.
l. Be more deliberate, thoughtful, careful, and prayerful in handling matters.
m. Passion and anger can easily draw us into some form of contention.
n. It is far better to think things through first before you open up a potential can of worms.
4. It is our nature to be hasty and to jump into the middle of an argument or a debate.
a. Solomon was a keen observer of human behavior. He certainly must have observed this trend often as a king and as a judge.
b. I have also had to deal with this many times as a pastor.
c. When debates arise in the local church (and they will arise!) too often we are quick to form opinions, pick sides, join the debate, and add fuel to the fire WITHOUT knowing all the facts.
d. Sometimes folks hear one side of the story and have already made up their minds and have condemned the other party. That is being hasty in strife. At least wait until you hear both sides.
e. Circumstantial evidence can look very damning, and it is easy to assume guilt and accuse someone on that basis—hastily. Yet that damning circumstantial evidence may have a very simple explanation that exonerates the accused.
f. Therefore, don’t be hasty to accuse. Don’t be hasty to enter into a fight or a debate.
g. Give it a little time. Wait for all the evidence to come out. Wait for all the facts to surface.
h. Prov. 24:28 – “Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause.” Without all the facts, we may not really have a just cause for the accusation or for the argument.
i. We also allow our biases to enter into this.
• We are much more likely to quickly assume the guilt of someone we don’t like or someone we are biased against.
• We are much more likely to quickly assume the guilt of a person from a particular race or culture we don’t like.
• For example, suppose that we saw a lineup of three men accused of terrorism: one red headed Irishman, one blonde Swede, and a dark haired man from Yemen.
• We might be more inclined to hastily accuse the man from Yemen—even before hearing all the facts of the case.
• Solomon’s warning here is: don’t be too hasty to accuse.
• Obviously more terrorism comes from the Middle East, but it would be foolish to hastily conclude guilt on that basis alone.
• Don’t be too hasty to condemn.
• Don’t be too hasty to bring a lawsuit against him.
• It’s far better to wait for all the facts of the case to come in.
1. In the second part of this proverb Solomon gives the REASON we should not be too hasty to “go forth into strife.” The reason has two parts.
2. “Lest thou know not what to do!”
a. The reason we should not be hasty to jump into a fight, or a contention, or to make an accusation, is because once you get it started, you may not know what to do afterwards.
b. Emotion can draw us into a fight. But once you are in the midst of the battle, you have to think about your next move; and you may not know what to do next.
c. You can blurt out an accusation against someone based on a hunch or a gut feeling. But after the accusation is made, and people demand evidence, you may not know what to do.
d. Solomon’s point is that we should think about step #2 before we ever take step #1.
e. What if you make an accusation, or enter into an argument, or pick a side in a debate, and make a big deal out of it, only to discover that you were wrong. What do you do then? You may not know what to do then.
f. Along a similar vein, the Lord Jesus warned in Luke 14:31: “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?”
• The warning is, “don’t be hasty to get engaged in a war. Sit down first and think it through.”
• Anyone can start a war. Not everyone can finish well.
• Once you attack, then what?
3. “When thy neighbor hath put thee to shame.”
a. If you enter into a brawl of one sort or another, you may not know what to do.
b. And on top of that, you may be brought to shame.
c. The king who enters a war without thinking it through might be brought to shame when his army is decimated and he is captured and chained.
d. The man who accuses someone on impulse and anger rather than on the facts may be brought to shame. He may be exposed as a troublemaker who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
e. Someone who is hasty to engage in an argument over an issue without knowing all the facts will be brought to shame too. He will have egg on his face and may have to eat his words… and be very embarrassed and ashamed of his folly.
f. It’s easy to start an argument. It’s not always easy to stop it. And it could escalate far beyond what you ever envisioned. It could bring you to shame.
g. You may lose both the argument and your honor.
h. Prov. 15:18 – God would have us to be “slow to anger.”
i. Prov. 14:17 – “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly.” Acting on anger and impulse will cause us to jump into a fight without thinking it through. That kind of a person always ends up doing something stupid that he regrets later on. It will bring him to shame.
j. So when contention and strife is beginning to bubble up (at home; in the office; at school) before you get angry and passionate and jump into the fray, here’s what to do: stop… take a deep breath… think… make sure you know all the facts… read the Word… take it to the Lord in prayer…
k. By then the argument may even be over and settled.