Reflections on proverbs Chapter 26
by Joseph Jagde
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Proverbs Chapter 26 reads as follows from the King James version of the Bible:
1] As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
 As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.
 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.
 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
 He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.
 The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
 As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.
 As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
 The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.
 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
 The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.
 As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.
 The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.
 The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.
 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
 As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,
 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?
 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
 Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;
 When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
 Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.
 Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.
 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
Verse 1 speaks of the snow in the summer and rain in harvest, as something which doesnít fit well. The unusualness of for example snow in the summer is compared to honor for the fool. It is something however that can happen, a fool could be honored. It can snow in the summer. It is often the retrospective view that shows that this was a fool being honored. An example of this today might be highly successful executives, being lauded in the press, and later on we find out they have been conducting fraudulent schemes. Of course things spoken of in this verse, rain and snow are often befitting and sometimes being errant is not seeing what is actually befitting.
Verse 2 speaks of the curse, and it says it will not come without cause. If the cause isnít there, it will be like the fluttering sparrow and never actually come to its intended landing point.
Verse 3 is just another characterization of the fool, who is this case may be helped by corrective measures.
Verse 4 speaks of keeping a separate stance in answering the fool. Donít give answers or rebuttals that give credence to the arguments of the fool.
Verse 5 speaks of again not giving credence to the position of the fool, donít give any leeway in trying to reach a false middle ground by compromising into saying that folly is not folly. Keep folly defined as folly in answering the fool.
Verse 6 is saying that incorporating a fool into your messages, is like drinking from the cup of violence. This is another proverb about keeping oneís interest close at hand if necessary and away from the distortions of the fool and possible injurious consequences of dealing with the fool.
Verse 7 talks about the words of the fool, things often just donít equate with the sayings and verbiage of the fool. Their arguments might be seen at first as articulate but a closer look shows that things donít line up properly.
Verse 8 says that giving honor to the fool is as smart as putting a rock on the sling and that will not work. People may look to honor the fool, trying to get some advantage because the fool might have a high position. But the attempt, represented as a sling, will backfire.
Verse 9 talks about the dangers of holding thorns, the warning of some proverbs may not be heeded, because like the drunkard that doesnít feel the pain of the thorn bush, the realities of the proverbs and the warnings that they contain may not be heeded by those out of foolishness on their part. An example might be just seeing others who have traveled certain roads and what happened to them, yet thinking that this wouldnít happen to me if I go this same route, thinking that you are the exception. Thorns will do what they will do, and the warning signs more so apply to most if not all.
Verse 10 speaks of the greatness of the Lord, and how he does bless even the fool and the transgressor. The greatness of the Lord supercedes even foolishness.
Verse 11, says that as harsh as the results of folly may be, someone may go right back to it, not making the adjustments to avoid the troubles found in the particular ways of folly. Instead of adjusting course, they find themselves drinking from the same wells of folly again.
Verse 12, alludes to asking for wisdom from the Lord rather than putting too much trust in your own wisdom. If in your own eyes, you feel your own wisdom is sufficient, even if you are a wise person, this in itself is folly. There is room for recognizing your own gifts of wisdom, but this doesnít obviate the need to seek the wisdom of the Lord and or his angels.
Verse 13, the slothful man may be seeing obstacles that may not be there. Of course in some cases there are lions on the street, either figuratively or literally speaking. But in many other cases, there are not, and seeing too many obstacles can contribute to laziness or just not making an effort. Maybe make the effort and if obstacles that are just too much show up, then back up and or bow out. But great obstacles shouldnít always be presumed, even if you found them in the past. But this verse alludes that there might be a clearing found rather easily, and the large obstacles were only assumed but not true.
Verse 14 talks about the slothful man again. He turns in his bed like the hinges on a door. This symbolizes that there was an open door that could be turned and gone through, but this person, out of laziness or laziness combined with fear of the unknown, stayed at the door and it seemed to be enough that it moved on itís hinges, but the opportunity was never really taken advantage of, as to capitalize on the opportunity, the door need to be entered or gone through totally. This proverb is about not only seeing your opportunity, but taken advantage of your opportunity. An offshoot of this is someone who has lots of options due to talent and gifts, but spends all their time pondering their options, which is like the door on the hinge, but they never really take full advantage and walk through the door.
Verse 15 continues to speak about laziness even about things that might be rewarding right there and then. A great meal is usually something that is enjoyable right there and then. But this could also apply to people that are putting things off into the future, perhaps thinking that sacrifice now will pay off later. But this can turn into laziness about things that reward immediately and in the here and now. Something to ponder from this proverb is immediate rewards and the importance of these immediate rewards and how they should be prioritized in some ways and just because it doesnít take great effort to get to a reward both in terms of time and space, doesnít mean immediate rewards should be overlooked or even disparaged.
Verse 16 talks about how someone is so sure that his reasons are the correct or one and only, that there is no pondering of good reasons found elsewhere. Self reliance is good but part of being self reliant is being able to recognize and possibly incorporate good reasons and wisdom found elsewhere.
Verse 17 is quite plain, donít jump into disputes, especially as a passerby. This can be outright dangerous, and while the motives may be good, the best thing to do is call the authorities and not to get yourself in the middle of something dangerous. Some things are best bypassed.
Verse 18 and 19 is one proverb and it talks about deceptive practices against the neighbor, excused by I was only kidding. People who are the other end of this, will be particularly incensed even more so than someone who received straightforward hostilities and it will come back to haunt the person that flung these hostile arrows in a big way. Hostility is hostility and the only kidding excuse is a false cover-up.
Verse 20 talks about quelling gossip by just shutting up about it. This today could apply a bit to the media and some of the mechanisms of the media but also to groups such as groups of friends. Gossip can be particularly viscous and is akin to slander. Those victimized by it may seek revenge in a matter of course as well. Gossip can amount to overstepping ones bounds and stepping on someoneís toes without asking. It could very well come back to haunt someone in a big way.
Verse 21 talks of the quarrelsome man who is good for starting up and inflaming strife, not in a good way. This is again a case of someone just overstepping their bounds, seeking out trouble and what they might kindle is also strong hostilities coming back to them. Others, maybe not quarrelsome, may still react with a vengeance that would have been otherwise dormant had not they been rubbed the wrong way.
Verse 22 is talking about those who are victims of gossip or slander, will often take it too heart and it involves the inner man. Since it is held on to, the oneís who are the perpetrators are also potentially the victims of strong retributions and whatever forms they may take.
Verse 23 begins what is the theme of the rest of this chapter. Passionate speech may be like a gloss covering up wicked intentions. This is something to be wary of.
Verse 24 again speaks of the use of speech and words to decoy hidden hostilities. The extreme of this could be involved in some of the crimes that are committed, where people are sweet talked then led into a trap.
Verse 25 continues the same theme, someone might be a great talker, a great speechmaker, but literally holding any number of abominations in their heart. Fair speech needs to be tested against the real possibility that what is abhorrent is residing in the conscientiousnessí of the speaker.
Verse 26 shows that the wickedness will eventually come out, despite efforts at deception, and it will be fettered out by the assembly.
Verse 27 is quite plain, this person will be caught in the very trap they set for others. In the context of verse 23 to 28 being related, it would most likely be talking about traps set through fine speech as a means of deception. It would will ultimately backfire right on the perpetrators of the injustices. What comes around, goes around.
Verse 28 speaks again of the use of deceptive speech and how hatred is the underlying motive towards those who are the intended victims of the lies. The motive of the lies is outright hatred.
Flattering words are another means of possibly setting someone up for the fall. A compliment is usually good, but is may be a means of setting someone up as a lure into a trap, like baiting for the fish who really just wants the what is on the lure but not the resultant getting reeling in from the water.
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