Proverbs 14:17

He that is Soon Angry

17a He that is soon angry…

1. Soon: short; hasty; impatient.

2. Here Solomon describes the man (or woman or child!) who is soon angry…

a. He is short-tempered… hot head… they fly off the handle… short fused… easily irritated…

b. We have all known people like that.

c. We have all behaved like that… more often than we would like to remember.

d. The heart is deceitful. Sometimes it is scary to think about how easily our anger can be stirred up… and over such trivial things!

e. If we know this, then keep your heart with all diligence!

3. This character flaw (otherwise known as sin) is mentioned often in the Bible.

a. It is described often because it is human nature… it is common to man.

b. Prov. 16:32 – it is the man who does not RULE his own spirit (rule = reign over; have dominion over). Instead, this man’s anger and passions rule over him. He is a slave to them.

c. Prov. 25:28 – like a city broken down and without walls. Unsafe!

d. Ecc. 7:9 – be not hasty to be angry. In other words, be SLOW to wrath!
• Hold anger in; don’t let it out—the opposite of what psychology says.
• The Bible says “put it away.” Eph. 4:31; Ps. 37:8 – Cease from anger!

e. Prov. 12:16 – fools let their wrath be known right away.
• Everybody gets angry. Fools blurt it all out.
• Wise men cover it up.

f. Prov. 14:29 – he that is hasty in anger exalts folly.

g. Gal. 5:20 – anger is the work of the flesh.

4. It is WISE to control anger.

a. It is a sign that the Spirit of God is in control—for the fruit of the Spirit is temperance… self control.

b. Prov. 15:18 – a man who is slow to anger appeases strife.

c. Prov. 16:32 – the one who controls his spirit is better than the mighty… it is more valuable, more useful, more efficient, and more powerful than a mighty soldier…

17b Dealeth foolishly…

A.) His Foolish Behavior

1. Dealeth: to do; act; make; produce.

a. He ACTS foolishly… he behaves foolishly…

b. He PRODUCES folly… he generates folly… and all of its associated consequences.

B.) His Folly Described

1. The man who has no control over his temper is continually doing and saying things that he regrets later.

2. Prov. 27:3-4 – a fool’s wrath is heavy and cruel. The result of his anger is often painful.

3. But later is usually too late.

a. You cannot un-ring the bell. Often the immediate damage done through an outburst of anger is irreversible…

b. The cruel words have already pierced someone’s heart.

c. The door you punched is still broken.

d. The lamp you threw still doesn’t work.

e. And the little eyes and ears who heard it all and observed it all will never forget.

4. Job 5:2 – wrath kills the foolish man. It is his own undoing.
• Prov. 29:22; 30:33 – wrath stirs up contention…
• Prov. 19:19 – he will suffer punishment for his wrath too… it carries its own condemnation and sentence.
• Prov. 30:33 – it always results in contention and fighting…

17c And a man of wicked devices is hated.

1. The word “wicked” does not appear in the original.

a. The word “devices” means “plans”… craftiness; plots.

b. It is a neutral word and the context must decide whether the plans are good or evil.

c. Because of this, a few translations are entirely different in the second half of the verse:
• Prov. 14:17 (RSV) A man of quick temper acts foolishly, but a man of discretion is patient.
• Prov. 14:17 (BBE) He who is quickly angry will do what is foolish, but the man of good sense will have quiet.
• 17 (GNB) People with a hot temper do foolish things; wiser people remain calm.

d. These translators chose to follow the LXX here rather than the Hebrew MSS in order to alter the word “hated” and give it a good sense… patient; calm;
• They chose to translate “devices” in a good sense in order for it to be a fitting contrast to the evil… (because normally that is the contrast Solomon makes) and thus were forced to change the meaning of “hate” to patient or calm.

e. Most translations follow wording similar to the KJV.
• This is best here because it doesn’t change anything.
• It simply acknowledges that the word “devices” is neutral, but the context flavors it.
• Thus, the contrast in this proverb is not between a hasty, angry man and a calm man. Rather, it is between a man who does foolish and evil things out of a sudden flare-up of passion… vs. a man who plans and premeditates his evil.
• This first man is foolish; the second man, is down right evil!

2. The man of wicked devices.

a. The first man says foolish things in a burst of anger—things that are hurtful—and things he wishes he never said… he wishes he could take them back…

b. But the second man premeditates evil things to say in order to hurt someone.

c. He says them and does NOT wish he could take them back.

d. Both of the words are hurtful and painful to the person who was stabbed or pierced by them.

e. One was deliberate, intentional, and premeditated. The other was not.

3. Solomon warns us to be discerning about what we hear… and the construction we put upon it.

a. This is helpful in all kinds of relationships…

b. Husbands and wives often say things in anger that they wish they never said.

c. Parents say things to their kids they wish they could take back.

d. Kids say things to their parents they wish they could take back.

e. Those words are piercing and painful… but USUALLY they are the result of the passion of the moment… an outburst that they wish never burst out… it is often the anger speaking…

f. In those times of spiritual weakness we do and say things we would NEVER do or say if we slowed down… took a deep breath… and thought about it.

g. This is not to say it’s not our fault. It IS our fault. It is SIN and ought to be confessed… and a fault that needs to be made right with whomever you hurt.

h. But often times, the offended party does NOT make the distinction Solomon tells us to make here.
a. That offended party assumes that it was premeditated…

b. They assume that what you said is what you really meant… that’s the way you really feel… that’s what you really think…

c. They assume that what you did or said was the result of “wicked devices”… when in reality it may have been the result of being “soon angry.” There is a huge difference.

d. If we could only keep these two motives separate in our thinking… we would be much quicker to forgive and restore relationships that were hurt because of unkind words.

e. Remember: anger often exaggerates; it embellishes; it uses harsh rhetoric and extreme language; it vomits out words thoughtlessly; it is unthinking and un-thoughtful… and foolish.

f. That is a far cry from man who IS thinking… who purposely takes time to craft his words and devise his actions IN ORDER to inflict pain… and he really MEANS IT.

g. Too often relationships disintegrate unnecessarily when people are not able to… or choose not to make this important distinction.

4. The difference between foolish and hated

a. One man is conniving and hateful.
• Hated: hated; hateful; enemy.
• This man is a genuine enemy… working against us to hurt us…
• This man devices plots—various ways he can inflict pain.
• His hurtful words and spiteful actions are intentional… well thought out; planned; plotted; vengeful. This man is hated.

b. The other man (the one who is angry and rash) is foolish.
• His behavior is not acceptable. It is sinful, but it is far less serious than the man who plots and plans.
• So ladies, when your husband gets mad and says something hurtful, give him the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume that he is your enemy. Think the best. He may only be a fool!
• It is good for kids to know this—those cruel, hurtful words they hear when dad and mom are angry aren’t necessarily what they really mean.
• This is good for parents to keep in mind, when their children blurt out something hurtful in anger…
• This is also good for believers to keep in mind… when a brother is angry and says something unkind… he may not really mean it. It could be the anger speaking.
• Now this is not being said to JUSTIFY such anger, or angry words and actions. But it should all be put in perspective… and seen for what it really is.
• Any one of us can get tripped up by an angry outburst in a moment’s notice. You know it’s so. I know it’s so. The flesh is weak. There’s no point in pretending that it “aint so!”
• Knowing how easy it is to trip up in this area (who hasn’t!?), we would do well to be understanding of others who get angry… and do and say things they otherwise would not.
• Be honest, we have ALL done the same thing…
• Be aware that not all of those words were meant.

c. After the argument, the man of wicked devices is happy that he hurt you… but the rash fool is often repentant… embarrassed, ashamed, and wishes he could take back what he said.
• This is revealed for our learning and our admonition.
• Be discerning. There is a huge difference between the deliberate evil doer… and the rash fool who easily looses his temper.
• Our laws distinguish between these two motives: murder as a crime of passion vs. a premeditated murder.
• We shouldn’t treat them the same either.
• One is much worse… and more hated than the other. Sudden passion is foolish. Deliberate devices are hateful.