Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time
is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him;
he refreshes the spirit of his master....
Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land. (v. 13, 25)
I remember the first time I realized the absolute enjoyable delight of an ice cold glass of water... It was after our refrigerator/freezer in Niger had been broken for several weeks (we were waiting for our next support check to arrive to fix it, or something like that) and as a result, we were drinking water at the temperature it came from our filter. It was tepid... at best. Then I'd go and visit with a friend where I would be served a glass of icy cold water - even more refreshing than a super cold (or stupid cold, as a different friend likes to say) glass-bottled African Coca Cola! I don't know that I've ever enjoyed any drink, ever, as much as I savored that simple glass of water.
That sort of delight and enjoyment is, I believe, what Solomon tries to convey in these particular proverbs. As I've meditated on these words some over the past few days, I've had three thoughts that seem to keep hanging on.
Sometimes I'll ask one of my children to take a message to another one of my children. That is always done with a bit of fear and trepidation because the messenger can easily become arrogant... or bossy... or bitter... or careless... or... Well, I think you probably get the idea. The messenger may not transmit the message faithfully, changing words or implying by tone of voice or body language something that was not a part of the original message... or may forget to include something that was critical to the original message. Either way - information gained or lost - the initial message does not remain intact and the needed communication does not occur. I know what a delight it is when my message is communicated with integrity. It builds my trust in the child I entrusted with the message.
My second thought builds from there: God has entrusted His people with a message. Am I faithfully, with integrity, communicating His message without adding my own overtones or leaving off details that He has deemed important? And... this blows my mind... God finds it refreshing those times that, by His grace, I do. This thought, as one who tends to work with words... a lot: I can, metaphorically, hand the Almighty a delightfully refreshing cup of icy cold water - each time I serve as His faithful messenger.
The third idea I've been mulling is from the perspective of the one who receives a message. God's messages for me are always, ultimately, good news. They may contain warnings, news of consequences, etc., but the final goal is my very best. Do I accept ALL of His messages with that sort of teachable spirit? Do I receive them the same way I received that lovely icy cold cup of water from my friend that hot late morning in Niger a few years ago?
I mean, think about it.
Faithful transmission of a message benefits all involved: sender, messenger and receiver.
There are times I stand in each one of those roles. More importantly, there are times when my job, as messenger is to faithfully and accurately portray in every way God's message of mercy, repentance, rescue and grace. There are just as many times that my job is to humbly receive whatever message God sends to me, even if the messenger fails in his/her duty to faithfully and accurately portray in every way.