The other day I was outside doing yard work. In my yard are patches of clover. As is so easy to do, my thoughts turned to faith. I was reminded of Proverbs 16:24, as translated in The Message.
Gracious speech is like clover honey—
good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.
My ESV translation has honeycomb instead of clover honey. As The Message is a “super” paraphrase, I’m sure the ESV is closer to the Hebrew. Nonetheless, some of the sweetest honey is made by the bees from clover and so the clover made me think of honey.
Honey can remind you of a number of things in the Bible. The Promised Land was a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8, 17). This phrase simply means a land of abundance. The manna the Israelites received in the wilderness tasted like wafers made with honey (Exodus 13:31). Honey was an unacceptable offering to the Lord (Leviticus 2:11). In that way, it was like leavened bread. One might also remember the story of Sampson discovering honey in the carcass of a lion he had slain earlier (Judges 14). We also might think of the story from 1 Samuel about how Jonathan ate some honey during battle, against the order issued by his father Saul (1 Samuel 14). Honey was prized enough to be used as a gift (Genesis 43:11; 2 Samuel 17:29; 1 Kings 14:3).
The Proverbs 16 quote is focused on the sweetness of the “clover honey.” The comparison between sweet honey and gracious speech is not uncommon in the Bible (Psalm 19:10; 119:103). What speech is more gracious that sweet Gospel (Ezekiel 3:3). In that message we hear of God’s unearned love for us in Christ Jesus, our Lord, though for those who reject the Gospel it becomes bitter.
The clover in my yard had small, white, blossoms. They too made me think of Jesus, in this case his purity and innocence. The leaves were a strong green. That also made me think of Jesus, in particular the life we receive through faith in him. The plant had the typical three leaves, which reminded me to the Trinity ala Saint Patrick. But most of my thoughts were absorbed with the sweetness of God’s love, God’s Gospel, God’s grace in Christ Jesus.
Blessings in Christ,