Starting a quarrel is like letting out water;
stop it before strife breaks out!
The one who acquits the guilty and the one who condemns the innocent—
both of them are an abomination to the Lord.
A cistern is an old water tank, kind of like a big rain barrel or a big tank that holds thousands of gallons of water. They were made of stone and rocks, or a big hole in the ground. They would hold the drinking water and water for other use, some were used for people others were used for cattle and farming. The point is, water is a very important thing.
Especially in the part of the world where this proverb was written. In the middle east – hot and dry weather – you’re going to want to have enough water. Without water you die. Without water, animals and plants die. Water is life, and something that could cause you to lose life is a problem.
So, you can understand the comparison. A quarrel is a problem. If you start it, you’d better stop it. If someone else starts it, you should still stop it. No matter how the quarrel started, you need to stop it. If you don’t stop it, strife could break out. If you don’t stop it, it has potential to suck the life out of you.
I’ve been in positions where I had to stop quarrels. It’s not a good thing. Quarrels are usually a sign of big, big problems. And you can tell a lot about people by who they’re willing to quarrel with, what they’ll quarrel about and where there willing to quarrel.
For instance, we were at a movie screening last night (thanks to my awesome wife) and there was a younger mom and her daughter there with grandma. This young mother was getting very upset with her mother about where they were going to sit. And they got into a little quarrel in the movie theater, in front of everyone.
The fact that she was willing fight in a movie theater with her mother while her daughter is present, well, that’s a pretty big clue into what home life might be like. It’s also a clue into what kind of person she is.
Anyway, it’s better to stop quarrels before they suck the life out of you.