“A word fitly spoken…” by William MacDonald

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Prov. 25:11)

“The combination of golden apples in a setting of silver is pleasingly appropriate. The two go together well. It is the same with a golden word spoken at just the proper time. “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Prov. 15:23).

A veteran missionary lady is dying in the cancer ward, still conscious but too weak to talk. A godly elder goes to her bedside just as the evening visiting hours are closing. Leaning over her bed, he quotes Song of Solomon 8:5, “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” She opens her eyes and smiles. That is her last contact with this sobbing, suffering world. Before dawn breaks, she has left this wilderness, leaning on her Beloved. It was just the right word!

A family is numb with grief over the loss of a loved one. Friends crowd around with messages of condolence, but none seem to assuage the heartache. Then a letter comes from Dr. H. A. Ironside, quoting Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” That proves to be the right word from the Lord to snap the chain of sorrow.

As a group of young Christians are on a long trip, one starts to share some doubts concerning the Scriptures which he has picked up in one of his college courses. After listening for a while, one of the quieter, more forgettable passengers startles the group by quoting Proverbs 19:27 from memory: “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.” It was an apple of gold in a setting of silver!

Then there is the familiar story of how Ingersoll, standing before a large audience, defied God to strike him dead in five minutes–if there was a God. The five minutes passed, heavy with suspense. The fact that Ingersoll was still alive was supposed to demonstrate that no God exists. Just then a nondescript Christian arose in the audience and asked, “Mr. Ingersoll, do you think you can exhaust the mercy of God in five minutes?” It was a word on target.

The proper word, spoken at the proper time, is truly a gift from God. We might well covet the gift so that the Spirit of God can use us to speak the appropriate word of comfort, encouragement, warning or rebuke.”

  • William MacDonald (1917-2007), One Day at a Time: Truths to Live By ( Scarborough, ON Canada: Everyday Publications Inc, 1985/1988), 218.

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