Proverbs 26:4-19

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Proverbs 26

4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

Psalms 14:1 - The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Verses 4 and 5 seem to contradict one another. The key to understanding them is the last half of each verse.

Do not answer a fool in such a manner that you become a fool in the process. Do not lose your temper, do not behave rudely, or do not speak unadvisedly. Do not be drawn down to the fool's level.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

Reprove and rebuke him, as his folly deserves, so he will not be wise in his own eyes. At times one must use the fool's language to refute him so that he does not become conceited.

6 He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.

Sending a message by the hand of a fool is useless and works against your best interests. He won't deliver the message properly. He will only cause you grief. To cut off the feet suggests to render yourself helpless.

Drinketh damage suggests that you bring damage to yourself.

7 The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

The legs of a lame person are useless. A parable in the mouth of a fool will also be useless. He will not know when, where, or how to apply it.

8 As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

Why would someone bind a stone in a sling? Although you attempt to hurl it or shoot it, it will not leave the sling. The stone must be loose in the sling. It is just as absurd to give honor to a fool.

9 As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

He doesn't know what to do with it. He may not even realize it is in his hand. A fool will have no idea how to understand a parable.

10 The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.

God will appropriately reward the fool as well as the lawbreaker.

11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

Although a dog's eating vomit is repulsive and disgusting to a person, it is the dog's nature to eat vomit. It tastes good to him. Likewise foolishness, although repulsive and disgusting to others, comes naturally to a fool. He enjoys it. A fool does not learn from his experiences.

12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

Even a fool, as bad off as he is, is better off than someone who is wise in his own eyes or characterized by self-conceit or pride. He is blinded to his sense of need or to correction. He is never wrong.

13 The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.

The slothful, i.e. the lazy person, goes to extreme or bizarre measures to avoid leaving his house. He has all kinds of reasons why he cannot do something.

14 As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.

He just cannot seem to get out of bed. He cannot get away from his bed any more than a door can get away from its door jam to which it is anchored by its hinges. He will not even exert the energy necessary to get out of bed.

15 The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom [i.e. in his dish or bowl]; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.

We have seen this proverb before in Proverbs 19:24 .

He is too lazy even to eat.

16 The sluggard [i.e. lazy person] is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

He is wiser in his own thinking than anyone else. He won't change his mind even if there are seven intelligent men who are advising him to do so. Seven suggests everyone. The sluggard lacks discretion.

17 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

If you pick up a dog by its ears, don't be shocked when you get bitten. You don't dare hold on, and you don't dare let go!

Don't take up causes on behalf of others. You will bring trouble on yourself by interfering in a situation about which you know nothing. Don't meddle in things that are none of your business.

How might this happen? Suppose you have a friend or someone you highly respect. Suppose he has a problem with someone else. It is natural to take the side of your friend or the person for whom you have high respect. What if you take his side in the dispute and find out later that he was the one who was wrong? Blind loyalty to your friend or to the one whom you respect is wrong. Sometimes pastors or employers demand blind loyalty, but blind loyalty can only be given to the Lord or to the Scriptures.

18 As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,

A firebrand is a piece of burning wood.

19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?

After hurting someone with his words, he claims to have been only joking or kidding and then asks, Can't you take a joke? He is like a mad archer who shoots firebrands, arrows, and death.