-As the section on wisdom for leaders continues, the men of Hezekiah transcribe additional proverbs. Honor is not fitting for a fool, like snow in the hot summer or rain in the dry season of harvest. Like a sparrow in its flitting (nuwd- wandering, moving to and fro) or a swallow in its flying, so is a curse that is given to a person without cause or reason. The curse will not alight (bow'- to go in, enter, go, or take hold). Whips are for horses, bridles are for donkeys, and a rod for the backs of fools. In other words, one can only beat the foolishness out of them. They will not listen and obey good sense and reason. Do not answer a fool according to his foolery, or you will be like that person. Answer a fool as his folly deserves so that he/she doesn’t become wise in their own eyes in such ridiculousness. To send a message by the hand of a fool is like cutting off your own feet and drinking violence. A proverb in the mouth of fools is like useless legs to the lame. Giving honor to a fool is like one who binds a stone in a sling. It won’t go anywhere and will probably swing back and hit to hurt you. Avoidance of manipulation is the theme in this wise saying. A proverb in the mouth of fools is also like handing a thorn to a drunkard. They will not perceive the pain they are inflicting. A person who hires foolish people or just those passing by without discernment is like an archer who cannot shoot straight and wounds everyone around. A fool repeating his folly is just like a dog returning to its vomit (2 Peter 2:22). Their nature is corrupt and disgusting. But, there is more hope for a fool than for one who is wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 26:1-12). A denunciation of pride is given here.
-Next, some more words for the lazy. The lion in the road comment is about using excuses to avoid any and all situations that may require some strenuous effort. Just like a door swings on its hinges, so is the sluggard on his bed turning one way and then the other in an attempt to gain more comfort and sleep. Sluggards bury their hand in the dish and don’t even have the will to bring it to their mouth. Sluggards are wiser in their own minds than seven men who can offer a discreet answer (Proverbs 26:13-16).
-Messing with strife that doesn’t belong to you is like taking a dog by the ears. That usually does not go well. A man deceiving his neighbor and saying, “Was I not joking?” is like a madman who throws firebrands (ziyqoth- flaming arrows, chains), arrows (chets- figuratively a wound), and death. That would not be a good neighbor and ultimately defies Christ’s commands (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8). Where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down just like when there is a lack of wood, the fire goes out. But, like charcoal to hot embers and like wood to fire, when there is a contentious person, they will kindle strife. Speaking of a whisperer, their words are like dainty morsels going deep down into the innermost parts of the body (Proverbs 26:17-22). Whispering will gain people’s attention.
-The last verses in this chapter describe one who is hypocritical and flattering:
Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart. He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven (the biblical number for completion) abominations in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin (Proverbs 26:23-28).
-*Application* Among the plethora of wisdom in this passage we can think about today the fact that curses against us without substance have no power. Don’t receive hurtful words and things wicked people try to pronounce over us. Don’t worry about witches, sorcerers, voodoo practitioners, or any of that nonsense. This is biblical evidence that this kind of stuff has no kind of power over the redeemed. We should never act foolishly, or be fools. Live in the new nature that Christ Jesus wants to give us. Watch out for gossip and those who want to spread strife. Avoid these kinds of individuals and cultures. Watch out and be careful about those who are hypocritical and flattering with their speech. Look deeper, into the heart of the matter with discernment, and don’t try to actively get revenge. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves digging a pit and falling into it ourselves, or find that the stone we rolled towards someone is coming right back at us. Let’s be honest in our self-examination and quit working ruin with a flattering tongue.
Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 26:2, 23-28