Proverbs 26

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

October 6, 2004

Proverbs 26

:1 As snow in summer…honour is not seemly for a fool.

Snow in summer just isn’t right.  It’s even dangerous to the crops, even as rain at harvest could ruin the crop, not help it.

Putting a fool in a place of honor just isn’t right.  It could even be a little dangerous.

:2 … so the curse causeless shall not come.

(Prov 26:2 NLT) Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an unfair curse will not land on its intended victim.

Balaam’s curse:

Balaam was hired by the Moabite king (Num. 22-24) to put a curse on the nation of Israel as they marched on their way to the Promised Land. Every time that Balaam went through his “curse ritual”, he couldn’t come up with a curse, but ended up blessing Israel instead.

(Num 23:11 KJV) And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.
Balaam had been given a strict warning by God not to say anything that God did not allow him to say. God was not about to allow a curse on Israel because God loved Israel and Israel was in a place of following the Lord at that time.
(Deu 23:5 KJV) Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.

Balaam took this information and came up with a way to turn things around. In Numbers 25 we have a story where young ladies came down into the Israelite camp and tempted the men into immorality. Because of their backsliding, God sent a plague into the camp of Israel. We find out later that this whole situation was a part of Balaam’s counsel (Num. 31:16).

Don’t be afraid of “curses”.

:3-12 All about Fools

:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.

Our society has done away with corporal punishment. I’m not sure that’s altogether a good thing, though we do have other ways of administering punishment.

The other Deb and I were watching a TV show about good guys, bad guys, and lawyers. Deb was wondering out loud how a person could be a defense attorney for someone they knew was guilty. Some people get cynical and say that’s just the way lawyers are.

I think we can feel sometimes that people close to us somehow don’t deserve the punishment they are guilty of. Parents try to rescue kids from punishment. Society wants to go easy on some people.

Awhile ago I was talking to a fellow who works in law enforcement as a parole officer for sex offenders. He was telling me about the system they’ve developed over time to not only control sex offenders on parole, but to hopefully change their behavior. He said they had a three-prong approach: polygraph tests, therapy, and punishment. He said it was important that the offender understands the consequence of his actions by getting a decent dose of punishment.

I think Solomon would agree.

Perhaps we should be careful about going too easy on some offenses. Punishment can work to affect a person.

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

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

Huh? It sounds as if these two contradict each other. Do you answer a fool or not?

Some ideas:

One idea:  Don’t answer a fool in the same way he foolishly handles his ideas (lest you be like him), but answer a fool so that he will learn to abandon his foolish ideas.
(Prov 26:4-5 ICB) Don't give a foolish person a foolish answer. If you do, you will be just like him. {5} But answer a foolish person as he should be answered. If you don't, he will think he is really wise.
Or … Perhaps there’s a time when you shouldn’t bother answering a fool (because you just become like him if you’re not careful). Perhaps there’s a time why you would want to answer a fool (to help him learn wisdom instead of holding to a foolish position).
The Jewish Talmud (a commentary) suggests that verse 4 applies to foolish comments that can be ignored, while verse 5 applies to erroneous ideas that need to be refuted.
Ryrie: These verses are complementary rather than contradictory. Although it is unwise to argue with a fool at his level and to recognize his foolish suppositions, there are occasions when it is best to refute him soundly, lest his foolish opinions seem to be confirmed.


In 1989, before a convention of Arab lawyers, the assembled were told, “An Arab country does not have the right to occupy another Arab country.  And if God forbid Iraq should deviate from the right path, other Arab nations must send their armies to put things right.  If Iraq should become intoxicated by its power and should move to overwhelm another Arab state, Arabs would be right to deploy their armies to stop it.”

The speaker before that convention of Arab attorneys was Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

-- Associated Press, 11-5-90

Do you think he’s been answered correctly?

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

drinketh damage (violence) – the idea of gulping down violence.


A businessman was checking out of his hotel when he realized his briefcase was missing.  “Boy,” he said to the bellhop, “run up to room 1484 and see if I left my briefcase there.  And hurry. I’m late leaving for the airport.”

The man waited anxiously.  Finally, the bellhop came running up and panted, “Yes, it’s still there.”

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

parablemashal – proverb, parable. This is the same word used in Prov. 1:1; 25:1 to describe the “proverbs of Solomon”.

(Prov 26:7 ICB) A wise saying spoken by a fool does no good. It is like the legs of a crippled person.

Just having the words isn’t enough. It takes wisdom to know what to do with the words.

Sometimes God’s Word is used in the most “lame” ways.

I get bothered by the “prosperity” teachers who take a few verses and make it sound like we’ll all get rich if we give money to them.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I do believe that if God is leading you to give, that He will take care of your needs and yes He might even cause you to grow financially to some extent.
But God doesn’t want our focus to be on material things, on the acquiring of money to become rich. I think this kind of teaching sounds good to our ears because of our fleshly desires to become wealthy.
(Prov 23:4-5 ICB) Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to control yourself. {5} Wealth can vanish in the wink of an eye. It seems to grow wings and fly away like an eagle in the sky.
(Eccl 5:10 KJV) He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
(1 Tim 6:10 NKJV) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

We need wisdom when we read God’s Word. Make sure you understand what you are reading. If not, get some different translations to compare.

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

A stone should be loose in a sling so it will come out when you throw it. Binding a stone in a sling makes the sling useless, or worse, dangerous.

Giving honor to a fool is wasting the honor.

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

One idea:

The “thorn” is a weapon in the hand of a drunk.

(Pr 26:9 The Message) {9} To ask a moron to quote a proverb is like putting a scalpel in the hands of a drunk.

Another idea:

The “thorn” is piercing the drunkard’s hand.

I’m not sure the drunkard can feel the thorn going into his hand.
A fool could have his heart pierced with wisdom, and never feel it.

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

Apparently the Hebrew here is real difficult to translate. The word “God” was added by the King James translators. 

Some of the newer translations have something pretty different:

(Prov 26:10 NASB) Like an archer who wounds everyone, So is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by.

Be careful who you hire.  Make a bad job hiring the wrong person and people get hurt.

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

Gross! The dog likes it, but everyone else is disgusted.

It’s about those sins we won’t stop. It’s about bad habits we need to quit.


True story (1998):
In Tampa, Florida, Antonio Valdez Jr. was charged with driving without wearing  his glasses. A few weeks later, on his way to court to face the charges, Antonio crashed  his car ... because he wasn't wearing his glasses.
-- "Strange World," Campus Life, Vol. 55, no. 9.

Getting back to dogs with bad habits …


A mechanic who worked out of his home had a dog named Mace. Mace had a bad habit of eating all the grass in the mechanic’s lawn, so the mechanic had to keep Mace inside. The grass eventually became overgrown. One day the mechanic was working on a car in his back yard and dropped his wrench, losing it in the tall grass. He couldn’t find it for the life of him, so he decided to call it a day. That night, Mace escaped from the house and ate all the grass in the back yard. The next morning the mechanic went outside and saw his wrench glinting in the sunlight. Realizing what had happened he looked up the heavens and broke out in a song. “A grazing Mace, how sweet the hound that saved a wrench for me!”

Peter quotes this verse in warning about false teachers and the effect they have on people.  They lead people into sin. (2Pet. 2:15-22)

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

(Pr 26:12 The Message) {12} See that man who thinks he’s so smart? You can expect far more from a fool than from him.

This is the person who thinks they have all the answers.  They think that they don’t need anyone’s advice.

A fool will do better than this person.

:13-16 All about Sluggards

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

He’s got reasons why he can’t do what he’s supposed to do.



What kinds of excuses do you use?  For some of us it’s:
“I’m too busy” or “I’m too tired”?
If the thing in front of me is something I’m supposed to do, then I have no real excuses.
We have the ability to say “no” to things.  You can either say “no” to the “good” things or say “no” to the “best” things.
Don’t let the “good” things crowd out the “best” things.
If you let yourself get caught up doing too many “good” things, and not the “best” things for you, the things that God wants you to do, there’s a couple of people who lose out on the whole deal.

You lose out because you’re not doing the things you’re supposed to do.

The people you’re trying to help lose out because you’re not the one who’s supposed to help them and end up helping them in your own strength instead of God’s strength.

The person who was supposed to do what you’re doing loses out because you’re standing in their way.

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

A door makes lots of movement but doesn’t go anywhere.  It’s anchored to the doorjamb.

The lazy fellow makes lots of movement but doesn’t go anywhere.  He’s anchored to his bed.

:15 The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom…

bosomtsallachath – dish, bowl

(Pr 26:15 The Message) {15} A shiftless sluggard puts his fork in the pie, but is too lazy to lift it to his mouth.

:16 The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit …

(Pr 26:16 The Message) {16} Dreamers fantasize their self-importance; they think they are smarter than a whole college faculty.

The worst of the “wisdom” of the sluggard are his reasons for not doing anything.  He has himself convinced as to why he can’t do anything.

Sometimes I have folks come to me for counseling and when I begin to make suggestions, they’ve got quick comeback answers as to why every suggestion won’t work.

It may be that I just don’t have a lot of good ideas.  But sometimes I wonder if a person really wants a way out of their problem.

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

takethchazaq – (Hiphil) to display strength; to make severe; to prevail, prevail upon; to have or take or keep hold of, retain, hold up, sustain, support; to hold, contain

We’re not talking about stroking, scratching, or petting.

(Pr 26:17 The Message) {17} You grab a mad dog by the ears when you butt into a quarrel that’s none of your business.

A person who grabs a dog by the ears can expect to be bitten.


The danger of meddling

This is not to say that we shouldn’t “get involved”.
Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to teach us that we need to be helping those in need.
But there are some situations, some fights you don’t belong in.
Amaziah was a young man of 25 years (2Ki. 14) when his father Joash was killed and he became king of the southern kingdom of Judah.  As a king he did some things that were a bit rash and uncalled for.  On one occasion, after having won a great victory over the Edomites, he got his advisors together (2Chr. 25:17) and they decided to take on the northern kingdom of Israel.  When he sent out his invitation to battle to the northern king Joash, this is what Joash responded:

(2 Chr 25:19 KJV)  Thou sayest, Lo, thou hast smitten the Edomites; and thine heart lifteth thee up to boast: abide now at home; why shouldest thou meddle to thine hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?

Joash warned Amaziah that he was “meddling” with the wrong person.  Perhaps it might have sounded like a taunt, but he was right.

Amaziah should have let things alone.  Not only did Joash win the battle, but he took Amaziah to Jerusalem, tore down much of the wall around the city, took all the gold and silver in the city, all the treasures in the temple and the king’s palace, and took hostages with him back to Samaria.

:18-19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?

(Pr 26:18-19 NLT) {18} Just as damaging as a mad man shooting a lethal weapon {19} is someone who lies to a friend and then says, “I was only joking.”

Its fun to joke around with folks, but sometimes our joking around can get us into trouble.

:20-22 Strife and Gossip

:20 …where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

talebearernirgan – to murmur, whisper; backbite, slander, talebearer, backbiter; a gossip

:22 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

woundslaham – to gulp, swallow greedily

(Prov 26:22 NLT)  What dainty morsels rumors are--but they sink deep into one's heart.

This is exactly like Proverbs 18:8.

Just like candy or a piece of pie, there’s something wonderfully tasty about rumors and gossip.  Our ears perk up when we hear the word, “Have you heard …”

There’s something empowering when we know things that other people don’t know.  When we’ve heard the latest news, and we get to be the one who breaks the big scoop – it makes us feel important.  I’ve known some people over the years who were the worst of gossips, and I really believe this was at the heart of their gossiping, trying to make people like them because they knew something important.

And yet how important is it that we step back and see that this “knowledge” we’ve found out about could possibly be something that will do nothing but stir up strife (vs. 20)?

Gossip tastes like candy to us, but it’s more like dynamite.


Augustine encouraged conversation at meals--but with a strictly enforced rule that the character of an absent person should never be negatively discussed.  He had a warning to this effect carved on a plaque attached to his table.

-- "St. Augustine," Christian History, no. 15.

We should “THINK” before we pass on gossip.  Is it:






:23-28  Hatred and Lying

:23 Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.

(Pr 26:23 NLT) {23} Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a common clay pot.

:24 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;

dissemblethnakar – (Niphal) to disguise oneself

(Pr 26:24 The Message) {24} Your enemy shakes hands and greets you like an old friend, all the while conniving against you.

Some people will cover their disgust with you with nice things to say.  What’s amazing is that it can even happen with people in the church.  I’ve had it happen to me.

:25 When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.

What’s hard is to know when this is happening to you.  You don’t want to become a person who distrusts everyone and every nice thing ever said to you.

:26 Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be showed before the whole congregation.

congregationqahal – assembly, company, congregation, convocation; not just church but any group gathered together.

It will eventually come out.

:27 Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

(Pr 26:27 NLT) {27} If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will roll back and crush you.

:28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it


Say Something Nice

A husband and wife are getting ready for bed. The wife is standing in front of a full-length mirror taking a hard look at herself. “You know,” she says, “I look in the mirror, and I see an old woman.” “My face is all wrinkled, every part of my body is hanging out a mile.” “I’ve got fat legs, and my arms are all flabby.” She turns to her husband and says; “Tell me something positive to make me feel better about myself.” He studies hard for a moment thinking about it and then says in a soft, thoughtful voice; “Well, ... there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight.” Services for the husband will be held Saturday morning at 10:30 at Forest Lawn.

I guess that might be an exception to the rule.  Those are difficult situations.

But for most of the time, when we have a difficult time telling people the truth, we have to ask ourselves whether or not we care about them.