The Forcing of Wrath
1. This proverb deals with an issue that is “common to man”, namely, anger and wrath.
a. Who among us does not get angry?
b. Who among us does not have to deal with angry people?
2. Nobody can avoid dealing with anger.
a. We face anger in our own hearts and have a hard time dealing with it.
b. We face anger at work, in the neighborhood, throughout the country various groups are angry at other groups, and yes, we have to deal with anger even in our homes and at church!
3. And we all know why: we are sinners. Even as believers, we still have a sin nature, and anger is very much a part of it.
a. There are some external sins that seem to depart soon after we get saved. (drinking; swearing; immorality; etc.) Those are relatively easy to deal with.
b. But there are internal sins that will be with us till glory—and anger is one of them.
4. So Agur’s advice here is always timely and relevant.
5. At first glance, it appears that Agur is teaching us HOW to produce anger… as if we needed lessons.
a. But obviously, the purpose of telling us how anger is produced is so that we might AVOID it.
b. This might be likened to Smokey the Bear doing an ad telling everyone how most forest fires are started. He is not promoting forest fires. Rather, he tells us so that we might avoid making that mistake.
c. This is the technique Agur uses in our proverb.
Two Illustrations: “A” Produces “B”
1. E-How online gives some simple directions for making butter.
a. Use raw milk; let the cream float to the top; scoop out the cream; and pour it into a quart jar; shake and shake until globs of butter appear; strain the butter from the buttermilk.
b. Once you get the cream in the jar, all you have to do is shake and butter globs appear. Always!
c. It’s not magic; it’s science. It’s just the way things work.
d. The churning (shaking) of the cream always produces butter.
e. If you want butter to appear – then follow those easy steps.
f. “A” always produces “B”.
2. Perhaps another warning should be given here.
a. If you DON’T want butter, then don’t shake the cream, because if you do, butter WILL be formed.
b. Like it or not, “A” always produces “B”. It’s guaranteed to happen.
c. The potential for butter is resident in the cream.
d. If you shake it, the butter appears; if not, it won’t.
1. In our proverb, Agur used a play on words that is missing in our English Bible. It is probably impossible to reproduce.
a. The word translated “wringing” here is variously defined:
• Squeezing, pressing, wringing, agitate, irritate, stirring.
• This passage is the only occurrence of this word in the Bible.
b. The words translated “churning,” “wringing,” and “forcing” are all the same Hebrew word. One term described all three actions.
c. And there is also a threefold repetition of the same Hebrew term translated “bringeth forth.”
d. In each case, the same action “brings forth” (produces; results in) something.
e. “A” produces “B”.
f. We don’t have one English word that adequately describes one action for shaking, blowing one’s nose (or punching a nose), and stirring up trouble… but you get the idea.
g. The Hebrew had one word that described those three actions.
h. It’s easy to see how you could use the same term to describe stirring up cream and stirring up trouble. But we don’t think of “stirring up” one’s nose. We say “blowing” one’s nose.
i. To understand the relationship, we will have to think in Hebrew idioms rather than American English idioms.
2. Agur’s point in the second illustration is that if you keep on “agitating” a nose, (blowing or punching a nose) eventually, it will begin to bleed.
a. Butter does not instantly appear in the cream if it is shaken but once; but if you keep it up, butter will appear.
b. So too with the blowing (punching) of a nose. Blood does not occur every time you blow your nose. But if you do so continuously, it is going to happen.
c. It’s not magic; it’s science. It’s the way the nose works.
d. If you keep doing “A” long enough, “B” is what will happen. It’s guaranteed.
e. The membranes in our nose are only so strong. If they are agitated enough, blood comes forth.
f. The potential for bleeding is always present in the nose. It you keep on agitating, it will eventually bleed; If you don’t continually “agitate” the nose, it won’t bleed.
One Application: “A” Produces “B”
1. The application Agur makes is to the “forcing of wrath.”
a. Again, this is the same verb as is translated “churning” and “wringing.”
b. Forcing wrath here speaks of provoking others to anger.
2. The application here is obvious.
a. The potential for anger is resident in all of us – in all men. All men are sinners and have a sin nature. Anger resides in our hearts.
b. If you leave it alone, the anger will not surface.
c. But if you keep on pressing an issue, (provoking others) eventually, you will FORCE the potential for anger to become actual and it will manifest itself outwardly.
d. It’s guaranteed. It’s not magic; it’s a scientific principle. It has been observed and measured so many times consistently, that it is a scientific law of our fallen nature.
3. The membranes in the nose prevent blood from flowing out. But they do have their breaking point.
a. If they are punched or agitated, and irritated long enough, they will give way and blood will flow out.
4. Heavy cream will remain heavy cream.
a. It can handle a few shakes. But if it is shaken consistently and repeatedly, you will get butter as a result.
b. It’s science. It will happen.
5. So too with anger.
a. You can talk about irritating and upsetting issues for a while without causing people to blow up. They can handle it for a while—like a few shakes of the cream and the cream doesn’t change.
b. However, you can press an issue only so far before people reach their breaking point.
c. If you continually bring up issues that get people angry, eventually, it will “bring forth” STRIFE… a big fight.
d. This too is guaranteed.
6. We can be guilty of stirring up trouble—of irritating the passions of others—of forcing an issue to someone’s breaking point.
a. And perhaps they should not break forth into anger. If they do, they are guilty of anger. We are all responsible for our own actions.
b. But the one who forces the issue also bears responsibility.
c. Light brings accountability.
d. Here Agur gives us some light: “A” results in “B”. Therefore, we persist in “A” (forcing issues that make people mad), we bear responsibility in the predictable result: “B”—strife!
7. The POTENTIAL for wrath resides in all of us.
a. Oftentimes there are folks who may be angry over a particular issue. It may be a sore spot with them.
b. However, they may be trying to keep it in check. They may be trying not to get angry.
c. But if you or I keep on pressing the issue—we should expect that person to blow up eventually.
d. Even a man who wants peace (like cream sitting there minding its own business) can be pushed and irritated enough to break out into strife.
e. That’s Agur’s point: therefore DON’T keep on pressing an issue.
8. Constant pressure on a sensitive issue brings forth strife.
a. The answer is to “let up” – ease off… don’t keep on applying pressure… don’t keep on bringing up the issue… don’t keep on pressing people’s buttons!
b. Let it die and then bury it. Don’t bring it up again.
c. Be patient. Be selfless. Be longsuffering. Let harsh words go in one ear and out the other.
d. Let the other person have the last word. Demanding to have the final word (which is usually pretty forceful) is often the straw that breaks the camel’s back—that results in strife.
e. If you find yourself beginning to apply pressure and “forcing the issue”, then do what Agur says in in Proverbs 30:32 – “Lay your hand upon your mouth.”
f. Prov. 17:14 – “The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”
i. Learn to let go of an issue: “leave off contention.” Avoid it.
g. Prov. 26:21 – “As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”
• If you stop heaping coals on the fire, eventually, the fire will go out.
h. Prov. 29:22 – “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.”
• Very often it is our OWN anger that causes us to want to press an issue. If we want to avoid strife—then deal with the anger in our own heart. Then we will be less likely to stir up anger and strife in others.
i. Prov. 10:12 – “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”
• Hatred causes us to keep the flames of strife going; love enables us to “cover it up” and bury it.
• Love is a fruit of the Spirit. It is not natural. Anger is.
• Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.