Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot out of joint – Proverbs 25:19
I’ve not had the experience very often, but years ago I did have a bad tooth ache. Bad enough that I decided I needed to get some medical help. Of course, it was on a weekend and my dentist wasn’t going to be available for another 36 hours or more. It was a long and painful weekend.
I also broke my leg once. For almost three months I couldn’t put any weight on it and for another three months I could not put my full weight on it. Walking was difficult. Stairs were complicated and the fear of falling down (again) nearly petrified me.
The images used here by King Solomon are simple and profound. In a time of trouble, stress and/or uncertainty, seeking help from an unfaithful man (or woman) is painful, complicated and unreliable. He makes the case of having confidence in an unfaithful person is a fruitless endeavor.
The message is clear; be careful who you seek for counsel and help. If that person has demonstrated less than stellar behavior in times past, there is a good chance the behavior will continue. If they’ve betrayed a confidence of yours before, it doesn’t make sense to share more confidential information with them.
Like a tooth ache or a broken ankle, the pain is only part of the issue. You can’t eat your normal diet with a serious tooth ache and getting around is substantial problem on a gimpy leg. So too is an “unfaithful” person in a time of trial. Not only is their counsel suspect but you may end up with more problems than you originally faced!
There is another side of this proverb in that it reminds me of a passage of Scripture from Matthew where Jesus teaches on faithfulness. In Matthew 25:14 He begins a teaching with a man who is going to be traveling far away and leaves his three servants in charge of his affairs. To one he leaves five “talents” to another two and a third he left just one. When he returns, the one whom he leaves five talents, made five more and gave his master ten. The servant whom was left two, he also made two additional talents. Both of those servants were commended and told how faithful they were and in fact demonstrated they could be trusted with even more.
But there was the third servant who was given one talent did nothing with it and was rebuked and called “unprofitable.” We could say, “unfaithful.” He wasn’t trustworthy. You do not want to be that guy, the person who is untrustworthy, unfaithful, someone that cannot be relied upon in touch situations. Who wants to be compared to a tooth ache or a broken ankle?
So, we must ask ourselves two questions: One, who do we turn to in times of need? Are we trusting in the right people whom have demonstrated their true character? And secondly, what kind of person are we? Can we be considered by others as faithful, trustworthy, someone that can be relied upon?