PROVERBS CHAPTER 26.
Warnings against Dishonorable Conduct.
CONCERNING FOOLS AND SLUGGARDS. — V. 1. As snow in summer and as rain in harvest, either possibility being suggested as something altogether unfitting, not to be expected, so honor is not seemly for a fool, it is not proper that he should have it, he is altogether unworthy of it. V. 2. As the bird by wandering, the sparrow flitting along, as the swallow by flying, the aimlessness of their ordinary flight being the point of comparison, so the curse causeless shall not come, that is, if it is undeserved, it will not be fulfilled, and the person against whom it is directed has no cause for worry. V. 3. A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, both being necessary in the case of irrational brutes in order to keep them under control, and a rod for the fool’s back, for only by force can he be directed in the proper way. V. 4. Answer not a fool according to his folly, by putting oneself on a level with him in speech and actions, lest thou also be like unto him, be placed in the same class with him by decent and intelligent people. V. 5. Answer a fool according to his folly, a sharp and decisive answer being framed to meet foolish remarks, lest he be wise in his own conceit, filled with the notion that he really possesses wisdom. V.6. He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool, expecting him to represent his interests in a proper manner, cutteth off the feet, he puts himself in a helpless condition, he harms his own cause, and drinketh damage, harms, or injures, himself, he is bound to suffer abuse. V. 7. The legs of the lame are not equal, they drag or dangle, they render him helpless in his walk; so is a parable in the mouth of fools, it is altogether awkward for him to use a proverb or maxim, as he cannot apply it properly. V. 8. As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, as we might say, as one who plays with a loaded gun, so is he that giveth honor to a fool, for no fool is more dangerous than he who finds himself in a position of honor and authority. V. 9. As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, a branch of a thorn-bush in the hands of such a person being a dangerous weapon, since one never knows who will be injured in the inebriate’s uncertain striking, so is a parable in the mouth of fools, he works more harm than profit with his wrong applications. V. 10. The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool and rewardeth transgressors, rather, literally, “Much produceth all, and both the reward and the rewarder of the fool pass away,” that is, diligence brings reward, but folly brings destruction. V. 11. As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly, repeating it again and again, not aware of the loathsomeness of his action. Cp. 2 Pet. 2, 22. V. 12. Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit, in a false estimate of his knowledge and abilities? There is more hope of a fool than of him, for a person with false self-assurance is a hopeless case. V. 13. The slothful man saith, eagerly inventing excuses to keep himself from work, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. Cp. chap. 22, 13. V. 14. As the door turneth upon his hinges, never, however, moving from its place, so doth the slothful upon his bed, moving indeed, but not leaving his place and therefore making no progress in life. V. 15. The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom, rather, he dips it into the large bowl on the table with the intention of getting food for himself; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth, he is actually too lazy to bring it up to his mouth, chap. 19, 24. V. 16. The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit, in his own estimate of himself, than seven men that can render a reason, giving wise answers, proper information concerning questions placed before them. True humility is one of the chief Christian virtues.
CONCERNING BUSYBODIES. — V. 17. He that passeth by and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, becoming excited over a dispute which is really none of his business, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears, deliberately provoking trouble for himself. V. 18. As a madman who casteth fire-brands, or fiery darts, arrows, and death, deadly missiles of all kinds, v. 19. so is the man that deceiveth his neighbor, using craft against him, deliberately hurting him with bitter speeches, and saith, Am not I In sport? Gentle teasing and irony may well be permissible, but there is a limit to everything, and joking must never become pointed raillery with a personal sting. V. 20. Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out, for want of fuel; so where there is no talebearer, whose slanderous remarks always add further fuel for quarrels, the strife ceaseth, it is quieted for want of material to keep it going. V. 21. As coals are to burning coals and wood to fire, keeping the blaze steady, so is a contentious man to kindle strife, always to stir it up anew. V. 22. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. Cp. chap. 18, 8. V. 23. Burning lips, such as are fervent with demonstrations of regard, and a wicked heart, showing that the glow of the lips is repulsive hypocrisy, are like a potsherd covered with silver dross, impure silver covering an earthen vessel, the comparison serving to bring out the falseness of such actions. V. 24. He that hateth, dissembleth with his lips, or, “With his lips the hater dissembleth,” and layeth up deceit within him; v. 25. when he speaketh fair, making his voice and speech pleasant, believe him not; for there are seven abominations in his heart, hateful and loathsome plans and projects engage his attention, Matt. 12, 45. V. 26. Whose hatred is covered by deceit, since he has managed to keep it secret for a while, his wickedness shall be showed before the whole congregation, exposed before the entire assembly convened for judgment. V. 27. Whoso diggeth a pit shall faIl therein, this being the form which the punishment of God will take; and he that rolleth a stone, with the intention of harming another, it will return upon him, in just retribution. V. 28. A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it, it is not a case of merely repeating a slander in a thoughtless manner, but a deliberate expression of hatred; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin, for if men are duped by flattery, it brings misfortune upon them. Careful uprightness is required of every true child of God.