Good afternoon. Let me issue a warning, if you don’t want to be convicted today, then don’t read today’s proverbs. We all know someone that fits these descriptions or we have been this way ourselves. These proverbs speak directly to the worst of human nature and what we should and shouldn’t do in dealing with difficult people.
Dealing with Fools
26:1 Giving honor to a fool is not only inappropriate (snow in summer) but destructive (rain in harvest). Don’t try to promote or reward a fool hoping he or she will change.
26:2 Curses from a fool are ineffective since people are aware of the source. A curse “that does not come to rest” means that it will not have any effect.
26:3–5 These verses tell how to speak to a fool. Verse 3 implies that words are often ineffective; fools do not listen. Like animals, pain is the language they understand best. Verses 4–5 belong together. To “answer a fool according to his folly” is to be caught into their prideful quarrelsome trap which is what they want. On the other hand, you must sometimes answer fools in the words they understand in order to reprimand them effectively.
26:6–10 To cut off one’s legs (v. 6) is to make it impossible to move; in the same way, to send a message by a fool is to insure that it will not get through. Verses 7 In the mouth of a fool, a proverb becomes as useless as a paralyzed leg. Some people are so blind that they won’t get much wisdom from reading these proverbs. Only those who want to be wise have the receptive attitude needed to make the most of them. If we want to learn from God, he will respond and pour out his heart to us (Prov 1:23). Verse 8, sometimes when someone in a group causes discord or dissension, the leader tries to make him loyal and productive by giving him a place of privilege or responsibility. This usually doesn’t work. In fact, it is like tying the stone to the sling — it won’t go anywhere and will swing back and hurt you. The dissenter’s new power may be just what he needs to manipulate the group. Verse 9 normally the first prick of a thorn alerts us, so we remove the thorn before it damages us. A drunk person, however, may not feel the thorn, and so it will work its way into his flesh. Similarly, a fool may not feel the sting of a proverb because he does not see where it touches his life. Instead of taking its point to heart, a fool will apply it to his church, his employer, his spouse, or whomever he is rebelling against. The next time you find yourself saying, “So-and-so should really pay attention to that,” stop and ask yourself, “Is there a message in it for me?” Verse 10 reaffirms that you should not give important jobs to fools (as in v. 6).
26:11–12 Verse 11: fools do not learn from their mistakes, they keep repeating them. Verse 12 is a good closure to these verses. The worst type of fool is the one who is so sure he or she has all the facts of life straight that they refuse to listen to God’s wisdom. They think what they know is more important than what God or anyone else says.
26:13–16. If a person is not willing to work, he or she can find endless excuses to avoid it. But laziness is more dangerous than a prowling lion. The less you do, the less you want to do, and the more useless you become. To overcome laziness, take a few small steps toward change. Set a concrete, realistic goal. Figure out the steps needed to reach it, and follow those steps. Pray for strength and persistence. To keep your excuses from making you useless, stop making useless excuses.
Those Who Cause Problems
26:17 Seizing the ears of a stray dog is a good way to get bitten and interfering in arguments is a good way to get hurt. Many times both arguers will turn on the person who interferes. It is best simply to keep out of arguments that are none of your business.
26:18–19 Verses 18–19 could be taken to condemn any kind of practical jokes. The larger context here implies that some people want to hurt, embarrass, and be destructive. When called to account, he or she will treat the whole thing as a game and try to act oblivious to all the hurt such actions created.
26:20–22 Verses 20–21 describe the gossiper as the fuel that keeps quarrels burning. When this person is removed, old hurts can be set aside, and discord can die a natural death. Even so, we often find a juicy tidbit of gossip irresistible. Verse 22 is a direct warning to the danger of ingesting it. Gossip makes its way to the innermost being and corrupts the soul.
26:23. Here we are introduced to the liar. The point is that the congenial lips of the liar have a pretty coating on a cheap interior. The smoothness of the liar’s lips corresponds to the smoothness of a glaze on pottery.
26:24–26. Their words are phony, so do not believe them, no matter how pleasant they sound. The “assembly” in v. 26 refers to society at large. Sooner or later everyone will know the liar is full of lies and cannot be believed.
26:27 Verse 27 is a common Old Testament proverb that those who lay traps for others will themselves be caught in their snares (see Pss 7:15; 9:15; Eccl 10:8). Here, however, it has special application to the liar whose ways and character are laid bare before the whole community.
26:28 Verse 28 develops an idea already begun in v. 26, that lying is an act of hatred. In one way or another, lies destroy those whom they deceive. Therefore the liar despises not only the truth but his victims as well.
Wow, more good stuff today, a seat burner for sure! “Thank you Lord for your truth that convicts, reminds and teaches us how to live and not to live. I pray we live in your ways.”
Until tomorrow, Darrell