- Dr. Stieglitz
Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 27:19
"As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man "
This is the Hebrew word panim; it means face. The face was considered to be the revealer of the emotions, life, reactions, and soul of the person. Through one's face it is possible to see one's soul.
This is the standard Hebrew word leb, which means heart. It stands for the inner life of a person; a person's soul.
This word does not appear in the original Hebrew but was added by the translators to try and give a better understanding to the verse. It is one of the clear directions this verse could go. The verse reads: As in water face face, so the heart of man man.We need to supply a word there to make sense of the idea, but the verse is a word-picture wanting you to see what it is talking about.
It must be remembered that Solomon is trying to share with us a critical insight that will be useful for us as we live our lives.
There are at least two possible directions that this verse can be understood:
First, that this is talking about one individual and how just as their face is reflected or revealed in water, so that person's soul is revealed or reflected through their soul. This would mean that what the person talks about, turns their gaze at, is fascinated by, thinks about, and feels deeply about reveals what their soul is really like.
Second, just as water reflects or reveals a person’s face, so someone's soul is reflected in another person's soul. The idea is that when one person is angry, loving, bitter, or lustful, those who are around them begin to change to reflect their mood. One sees this idea most in reflected anger where one person is angry and everyone else becomes angry just to defend themselves and the whole atmosphere becomes charged with anger.
The first explanation seems to be a better understanding of the verse because it fits with the first part of the phrase in that one sees one’s own reflection in water. So it would make sense that Solomon is talking about how to get an accurate read on the state of your soul.
If this is the case then, he is saying that we need to take a regular look at the inner part of our being just like we look in the mirror to see how our face and hair are doing.
What are you talking about? Is it good, wholesome, encouraging, and helpful; or is it gossip, negative, criticism, wounding? Just like pimples on your face, this kind of stuff destroys the beauty of your soul.
What are you thinking about? Are you thinking selfish, me-first things? Are you thinking loving, helpful things? Just like uncombed hair and dirt on our face looks bad and can be cleaned up. So a soul full of foul thoughts needs to be assessed and cleaned.
What are you feeling? Are your emotions positive, loving, forgiving, etc? Or are the emotions that swirl in your soul angry, lustful, proud, envious, etc? These emotions destroy the beauty of the soul.
What is your attitude? This aspect of your soul is one of the most obvious reflectors of the state of our soul, but we ourselves fail to recognize our attitude. Attitude is the mental direction of the whole of our soul. Do we have a positive optimistic set? Do we have a God-is-still-in-charge attitude? Do we have a people-are-worth-loving attitude and they have needs that can be met, or do we have a people-are-selfish-and-greedy attitude and should we be skeptical and standoffish? Both of these ideas are true. Both have their place, but the second as a consistent attitude will leave you hardened and lonely. It is your attitude that will determine your interaction with people.
It is important to take a serious look at what your soul looks like. It can change just like you can choose to change the way your face looks. You can clean it up, comb your hair, etc.
What is the state of your soul right now? Give it the talk, thoughts, feelings, and attitude test. If it is no good, change it.
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