As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
Are you a good communicator? Do you keep others informed of good things? Are you an information facilitator? Do you consider those who might be out of the loop and miss a good report? Are you a consistent correspondent with those desiring to hear from you? Do you remember those who love you and would rejoice to have a good word from you?
The proverb is a simple analogy and simile. A thirsty person is encouraged, preserved, refreshed, revived, and sustained by a cold drink of water. You should be able to see his happy face and feel his thankful heart. A good report from a distant friend or business project has the same invigorating effect on those who hear it. Good news is a great gift, and it is cheap. Why not communicate more? What a simple way to refresh others!
Most commentators limit this proverb to a New Testament spiritual application. They make the good news the gospel of Christ, and they make the far country heaven. By using well-known verses about the gospel, they make an attractive case for their interpretation. If this verse were in Romans 10, you might agree with them, but it is not.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is very good news, and heaven is a far country, and hearing it preached is refreshing to the soul. But Solomon taught practical lessons of wisdom, as he made clear in the book’s introduction (Pr 1:1-9). There is no reference to the gospel in the proverb before or after this verse (Pr 25:24,26). If you also remember that proverbs are often obscure sayings with a hidden sense, you must look deeper for its lesson (Pr 1:6).
Is there a practical and valuable lesson of wisdom in these words? Yes! Is it an obscure suggestion for the invention of the telephone and email? No! Good news from distant persons or situations is encouraging and profitable, so wise men are good communicators to please and profit those depending on them (Pr 25:13). And with the witty inventions for communicating in the 21st century, there is no excuse not to be a great communicator.
How did hearing from Joseph affect Jacob? He did not care about the food or gold in his sons’ sacks compared to that wonderful news from a far country (Gen 45:27-28). The spirit of Jacob revived, and he purposed to go see his son. Who is waiting to hear from you? Are there any fainting from troubles that would revive with a good word from you?
Most men are too selfish to communicate. Others are too busy, have silent temperaments, or were never trained. Some do not see the purpose or value of it. It is commonly heard, “Out of sight, out of mind.” But wise men do not think that way. Seeking to grow in favor with God and men, they are consistent and thorough communicators. They know that a good thought not expressed is worthless. Why even think it, if you do not tell it?
Who wants to hear from you? Who feels they are in a far country due to lack of news from you? Do superiors know your progress on a project? Do inferiors know what you expect of them and if you are pleased? Do your parents know you are well? Do your children know what you want them to do? When did you last encourage a distant friend in Christ? How about a church member that may be outside the communication loop?
Solomon had already taught in the context that a faithful messenger refreshes his master (Pr 25:13), but here his emphasis is on the message. What good news can you communicate today to lift spirits and profit others? A good report makes the bones fat – it prospers men’s lives (Pr 15:30). Waiting too long can make a person sick (Pr 13:12). You could be a tree of life for others just by communicating right now. Pick someone. Do it.
Lest any reader think the gospel of Christ is not the greatest news ever communicated on earth, consider this glorious text: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).
If that description of the value of the gospel did not move you, consider this one: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (I Tim 3:16). The gospel is the greatest news ever told.
So exceedingly wonderful is this message that the blessed God of heaven once ripped the skies open over Judea with a multitude of angels from the army of heaven to convey the news to lonely shepherds. “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people – Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Read the whole account (Luke 2:8-20). Quench your thirst. Let it rejoice your own heart!