Pearls From Proverbs

By Irvin Himmel

Wringing Of Wrath

Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood:

so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife (Prov. 30:33).

There is a story about a Bible-believer who was engaged in conversation with a skeptic. In a daring and defiant manner, the skeptic asserted, “There is not one thing in the Bible which you can demonstrate physically to be true.” As quick as a flash the believer grabbed the skeptic by the nose and began twisting, wringing, and squeezing until the blood was gushing. The skeptic stepped back and was too startled to speak. The believer stared at the skeptic’s bleeding nose and quoted this proverb. He remarked, “I have just demonstrated that the Bible is true when it says that ‘the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood.”‘

Pressure Is The Point

The words “churning,” “wringing,” and “forcing” translate the same Hebrew term (miyts) in this passage. The idea in each case is that of applying pressure or squeezing.

Fred H. Wight says, “The Bible-time method of making butter was doubtless the same as used by the Arab Bedouins of today.” He then quotes Thomson’s account in The Land and the Book which describes the butter-making process:

What are those women kneading and shaking so zealously in that large black bag suspended from that tripod? That is a bottle not a bag, made by stripping off the skin of a young buffalo. It is full of milk and that is their method of churning. When the butter has come they take it out, and boil it, and then put it in bottles made of goatskins. . . .

Thus the churning of butter involved squeezing and wringing the milk in the skin bottle (Manners And Customs of Bible Lands, p. 50).

Wrath and Strife

Just as the wringing of milk produces butter and the wringing of the nose brings forth blood, the wringing of wrath produces strife. Wrath and strife are closely related (Gal. 5:20).

The Hebrew word for “wrath” in this proverb is aph. It denotes “the member with which we breathe, the nose; anger which shows itself in hard breathing” (Wilson’s O.T. Word Studies). It is translated “anger” 171 times, “wrath” 42 times, and has other renditions, appearing more than 250 times in the Old Testament. It is a synonym for chemah which appears 120 times in the Old Testament and is translated “wrath,” “fury, 90 46 anger,” “hot displeasure,” “rage,” “heat,” and “posion.” Wrath is a strong emotional state which is dangerous, “as it inflames everybody who comes close to the person in a rage” (Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the O. T.).

The Hebrew word for “strife” is rib, and it is used 60 times in the Old Testament. It means a quarrel, dispute, or contention. It may also denote a fight or struggle.

Forcing Wrath

The forcing or wringing of wrath may occur in several ways. Here are a few of them:

(1) Brooding over injustices and injuries. Thinking gloomily about one’s hurt is like incubating eggs that will hatch serpents. Saul evidently did a lot of brooding after he was rejected by God as Israel’s king. He was wroth when David was ascribed higher praise than he, and he eyed David from that day and forward (1 Sam. 18:8,9). Brooding over his anger toward David led to open strife. Saul made attempts to kill David. His anger was kindled against his own son Jonathan, because Jonathan befriended David (1 Sam. 20:30). Saul had been done no injustice, but his brooding forced his wrath to the point of conflict. Some never learn to suffer injury gracefully. They become angry, and their brooding condenses the anger until it erupts in strife.

(2) Tearing into a hot-tempered person. If ever there is a need for tact and diplomacy, it is when dealing with someone who has a violent temper. To speak to him with a tone of stern rebuke or sound of harshness is like making faces and growling at a bull dog. It wrings out wrath to the point of strife.

(3) Making irritating remarks. Statements calculated to annoy and nettle are like punches in the nose. Gibes often needle someone into a fight. Shimei hurled insults and curses at David, but the king kept his cool (2 Sam. 16:5-13). Many people allow insults to force wrath that boils into battle.

(4) Threatening and intimidation. To express intention of inflicting damage, or to insinuate it, often produces conflict. Sanballet and his associates tried to intimidate Nehemiah and stop the work on the wall at Jerusalem (Neh. 4:8), but Nehemiah was too good a man to allow his wrath to be forced.

(5) Agitating actions. Conduct which perturbs, shocks, or incites rage may result in unpleasant contentions. David’s anger was kindled against the rich man in Nathan’s parable. He viewed the man’s action as outrageous. But the rich man illustrated David himself (2 Sam. 12:5).

Anger is a stone cast into a wasp’s nest; it is a wind that blows out the lamp of reason. And just as surely as the churning of milk produces butter and the wringing of the nose brings forth blood, the forcing or wringing of wrath produces strife.

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 7, p. 207
April 2, 1987