Give [your enemy] food to eat. . . . In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Proverbs 25:21–22
Dan endured daily beatings from the same prison guard. He felt compelled by Jesus to love this man, so one morning, before the beating was about to begin, Dan said, “Sir, if I’m going to see you every day for the rest of my life, let’s become friends.” The guard said, “No sir. We can never be friends.” Dan insisted and reached out his hand.
The guard froze. He began to shake, then grabbed Dan’s hand and wouldn’t let go. Tears streamed down his face. He said, “Dan, my name is Rosoc. I would love to be your friend.” The guard didn’t beat Dan that day, or ever again.
Scripture tells us, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21–22). The “coals” imagery may reflect an Egyptian ritual in which a guilty person showed his repentance by carrying a bowl of hot coals on his head. Similarly, our kindness may cause our enemies to become red in the face from embarrassment, which may lead them to repentance.
Who is your enemy? Whom do you dislike? Dan discovered that the kindness of Christ was strong enough to change any heart—his enemy’s and his own. We can too.
What kind act might you do today to “heap burning coals” on your enemy’s head? How might you pray specifically for them?
Dear Jesus, I praise You that Your kindness leads me to repentance and inspires me to be kind to my enemies.
The first verse of Proverbs 25 tells us that the proverbs in chapters 25–29 were “of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah.” You may recall Hezekiah as the good king who fought against idolatry and the Assyrians and led the people in following God (2 Kings 18:1–8).
The various sections of the book of Proverbs (including today’s reading) usually don’t have an obvious theme. They’re simply “collections” of wise sayings by which we may live. So, it’s interesting to note that of the five proverbs in 25:18–23, four are warnings against the negative fallout of imprudent behavior (vv. 18, 19, 20, 23). Such evil actions are likely to create animosity. The proverb contained in verses 21–22 stands in contrast to the warnings against such unwise (or evil) actions.