Proverbs 19:13 (ESV) “A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.” Don’t react too quickly to this and think “this is about my annoying wife.” Or wives need to take heed. This must have been a problem in Solomon’s day, because it is repeated in Proverbs 27:15-16 (ESV) “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand.” What is the root cause of this problem?
We often view rain as a positive event. The grass grows green. The lakes and rivers are replenished. Things are washed by the rain. The farmer’s crops grow, producing bounty which translates to lower costs for food.
Too much rain, on the other hand, is a real problem. It causes crops to rot, mudslides, floods and a spike in the number of annoying mosquitos. If it remains cloudy for prolonged times, it becomes discouraging. There is something to be said for sunshine.
These proverbs compare a quarrelsome wife with a never-ending dripping of rain. It isn’t one outburst shower, but a continual drip, drip, drip without relief. Cloudbursts, while sometimes harmful, are momentary and can be forgotten. But the constant dripping of quarrels is hard to ignore.
Once again, like most proverbs, it is easy to say this is about wives. But it isn’t. It is about living with someone or being close to someone who just cannot stop arguing, bickering, complaining, battling and creating an ongoing war. There are many synonyms for quarreling, perhaps because it is so prevalent. These include: Carping (a most undesirable fish), feuding, squabbling, brawling, clashing, fighting, scraping, being at loggerheads, crossing swords, finding fault, having it out, having words and locking horns. It is hard to find any of these enjoyable.
One of them is interesting: “being at loggerheads.” What does that mean? According to Meanings/at-loggerheads, the origin seems to be: “A ‘logger-head’ was literally a ‘block-head’. A logger was a thick block of timber which was fastened to a horse’s leg to prevent it from running away. In the 17th century, a loggerhead was also recorded as ‘an iron instrument with a long handle used for melting pitch and for heating liquids’. It is likely that the use of these tools as weapons was what was being referred to when rivals were first said to be ‘at loggerheads’.”
It is easy to see quarrelsome behavior in others. What is the root of this behavior? It is pride. A deep pride that deludes a person into thinking they are always right. This is rooted so deeply that we often can find ourselves quarreling with another person in our head. Even that is a constant dripping because it will show up in the way we treat the other person. Don’t be a big dripper. Sometimes it is quarreling on Facebook about things neither party can effectively CHANGE.
Even the very disciples of Jesus had problems with quarrels and arguments. What did they quarrel about? It was a pride thing: who is the greatest?
Luke 9:46 (ESV) “An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.”
Jesus, on the other hand was humble. Philippians 2:5-11 makes this very clear: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”