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  • Joseph Scheumann

Wisdom: Overlooking an Offense (Proverbs 19:11)

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. —Proverbs 19:11

This Proverb explores two interrelated themes—being slow to anger and overlooking an offense. These two lines of poetry should not be read as synonymous, but rather taken together, they paint a picture of how a wise man responds to wrong and being wronged.

Preliminary Remarks

In the background of this proverb, as with the whole book of Proverbs, is the concept of the fear of the LORD. The fear of the LORD can be described as a reverent-awe with reference to Yahweh, our Covenant LORD. Proverbs 1:7 begins the book by saying that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD. So, we should not read anything in the book of Proverbs as being disconnected from the concept of "the fear of the LORD.”

Wisdom and Anger

This proverb is very illuminating because of what it does not say. It does not say that the wise person never gets angry, rather it says it is wise, or makes good sense, to be slow to anger.

Why, you might ask, does it make good sense to be “slow to anger”? Well, we often lack facts, we often are not able to see a situation objectively, and we are often blinded by our own pride. Rather than being quick to anger, we should strive first to listen, ask clarifying questions, and try to understand why someone might be behaving the way they are.

Overlooking an Offense

But wait. How do we really overlook an offense? There's only one way: we can "overlook" offenses only as long as we know that there is no such thing as an overlooked offense.

Paul tells us, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'” (Romans 12:19). Every sin—every offense against God and man will be judged by the Lord. And we know that the judgment will happen in one of two places: either in hell or on the cross of Jesus. Our "overlooking an offense" is really our entrusting to God the role that belongs to Him alone. The life of wisdom is the life of faith that yields to our sovereign and good God.


For Reflection

  1. In what ways will being "slow to anger" and "overlooking an offense" reflect God's character?

  2. What other Bible verses come to mind when you think about battling sinful anger in the fight of faith?

  3. Are you burdened with memories of offenses in your past? Christ Jesus will give you grace sufficient for this suffering if you will turn to Him.

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