Pressing Anger Produces Strife

“For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.”
Proverbs 30:33 (ESVUK)

The proverb above has one good idea and two bad.

The first idea concerns a kind of yoghurt drink that was well-known in Agur’s time (Agur wrote this proverb, not Solomon). Some translations use the word butter instead of curds, but butter is a mistranslation. The curd was a favourite and refreshing drink in the Middle East, and was made by shaking the milk about in a drinking vessel made of skin.

The writer continues to use the same verb, to press. You press milk for a desired result, but you press the nose for an undesirable result. I don’t think we should try this at home in front of the mirror, although obviously we could. If you press and keep pressing your nose really hard, or if someone is obliging enough to do it for you, it’ll most likely bleed. It’s just not a sensible thing to do.

In Proverbs 30 Agur uses groups of twos, threes and fours for emphatic effect. It is to do with comparison, and is a way of teaching so that people would remember the main point. In this instance his third idea is his main point. This is not a proverb about pressing milk or pressing noses, rather it is about pressing your own or another person’s anger so hard that you cause strife and trouble, not only for yourself but also for those around you. It’s a cause and effect idea. The more we push our anger, no matter how justifiable the reason may seem to us, the more we will create an atmosphere of strife and tension. This applies to us today as much as it applied to people when the book of Proverbs was compiled, does it not?

Press or shake milk to make a refreshing drink, but don’t be silly and press your nose so that it bleeds, and, above all, don’t keep pressing yours or someone else’s anger until strife erupts.

Father, help me please, through your Holy Spirit, to control my temper and not to press anger so much that it becomes explosive and causes strife. In Jesus’ name.

Used with kind permission of