Growing up on a farm, I found many places to play, hide, work, and think. The apple orchard was one of those places. In the spring, pink-tinted fragrant blossoms filled the air. During the hot summer months, lower branches invited me to climb and stay awhile, delaying my chores. In the fall, I gathered and enjoyed the free-falling fruit. The wintertime barrenness signaled it was time for the orchard to rest.
Proverbs 25:11 is wise King Solomon’s metaphorical use of ‘apples of gold’ to praise good speech and the value of words.
Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given. (NIV)
Other versions say it like this:
Timely advice is as lovely as gold apples in a silver basket. (TLB)
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (KJV)
The right words spoken at the right time in the right way is as pleasing as beautiful pieces of fruit in a silver setting. Choose words carefully. Speak words that bring joy and life to the recipient. Give apples of gold: give words of comfort, praise, counsel, and encouragement. The right word from the right person at the right time is life-giving and priceless.
A story from Greek mythology highlights the appeal of golden apples. The young and very beautiful Atalanta is a skilled hunter. Originally abandoned by her father, they are reunited and dad is eager to find a spouse for his daughter. Although, many suitors come seeking her hand in marriage, Atalanta is hesitant to marry.
But to keep daddy happy, Atalanta agrees to marry but with one stipulation. Her suitor must beat her in a foot race. Since Atalanta is extremely fast, no suitors are able to beat her. Her singleness remains preserved.
Then one suitor, Hippomenes, develops a plan. Armed with three golden apples, he drops one at a time during the race to distract Atalanta. It works. Atalanta stops running long enough to retrieve all three golden apples. Hippomenes wins the race and Atalanta’s hand in marriage.
The golden apples distracted Atalanta. Was she hungry for pretty objects? Did they catch her eye and she just couldn’t resist?I don’t blame her. Golden apples get my attention too. Kind, inspiring, and life-giving words get my attention. I will stop what I am doing and gather them.
Someone once advised me to keep an encouragement file. Harsh criticism naturally comes with leadership but hang onto the supportive and uplifting ‘apples of gold’ when they come. Start a file, a place to gather golden apples. Then feast on them during the dark and hard days.
When a golden apple comes my way, I gather it, keep it, and savor it. If inspiring words come as a note, I keep it. If it is an uplifting email, I print it and file it. They serve as drops of soothing cool water during the dry, dusty, challenging days. I stop, gather, and collect golden apples representing words of praise and reassurance.
Since I know what apples of gold mean to me, I want to be a giver of golden words. Thoughtful words to inspire and uplift. What words do others need to hear from me? I want to offer golden words just like the Golden Rule based on Matthew 7:12: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
It is apple harvest time. If Atalanta slows down, I will join her and we will pick up golden apples tossed our way.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)