Proverbs 26


‘Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honour is not fitting for a fool. Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest. A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools! Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. Sending a message by the hands of a fool is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.’ Proverbs 26:1-6

The Fool

Why do some honour fools in the eyes of the people? Why do some honour a lot of movie stars, athletes, rock stars, etc.? Most people look to them as ‘gods’ as if they have it made and they know everything.

Like sparrows, they flutter around without setting any real goals. Like the horse, donkey and rod they never reach their intended target because an innocent person is being attacked. They require compulsive discipline.

Solomon is saying that we shouldn’t take a foolish person seriously and try to reason with their empty arguments. There are times a fool should be answered and times they shouldn’t be answered. These proverbs would be applied differently depending on the circumstances. The messenger took the place of the one sending him.

‘Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. Like tying a stone in a sling is the giving of honour to a fool. Like a thorn bush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires a fool or any passer-by. As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.’ Proverbs 26:7-12

A proverb is useless from a fool because they don’t understand and cannot apply it to themselves. Tying a stone to a sling is useless because it cannot be slung, which is dangerous.

We shouldn’t give a place of honour to a fool. A fool is injured by it in ways they wouldn’t be if they were sober. A drunken person doesn’t feel any pain and so they wouldn’t know that their condition is serious. It is not only irresponsible, it is crazy.

The fool never learns and, like this dog, they continue to do the things that will not work. They have difficulty learning from experience. Peter uses this proverb in 2 Peter 2:22, to speak about those who fall away. The ‘know it all’, is the egotist, they are the worst type of person.

‘A sluggard says, ‘There’s a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!’ As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed. A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven people who answer discreetly.’ Proverbs 26:13-16

The Problem Of Laziness

Here Solomon gives another ‘lame’ excuse for those who don’t want to work. He says that both a door and a sluggard move, but neither goes anywhere. Despite their laziness, the sluggard considers themselves wise, even wiser than a team of seven competent people who are trained to give answers to difficult questions.

‘Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own. Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbour and says, ‘I was only joking!’ Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts. Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.’ Proverbs 26:17-23

Here Solomon reminds us to mind our own business. Remember that most dogs were not domestic pets in Biblical times, they were wild, therefore, to grasp a dog by the ears was a sure way to get bitten. They have no concern for the deadly consequences. He reminds us not to be a ‘practical joker’.

We’re not to ‘add fuel to the fire’ by continuing to gossip, if we hear gossip, we shouldn’t repeat it to someone else. They take a situation that might otherwise die out and turn it into a major conflict. Smooth lips may cover an evil heart like glaze covers the rough earthenware of a piece of pottery.

‘Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts, they harbour deceit. Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.’ Proverbs 26:24-26

The Secret, Malicious Attitudes

The number seven is an illustration of something being full, in other words, this is a perfect degree of hate and malice. A group will be able to see through their disguise and reveal their real nature.

‘Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.’ Proverbs 26:27

Solomon is basically saying, those who set traps for others will fall into their traps as a boomerang returns to the hand which throws it.

‘A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.’ Proverbs 26:28

Here again, we’re warned about the use of our tongues, James 3:2-12. When people use their tongues to tell lies, we shouldn’t believe a word they tell us.

‘Everyone lies to their neighbour; they flatter with their lips but harbour deception in their hearts. May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue.’ Psalm 12:2-3

Go To Proverbs 27


"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."