26 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
so honor is not fitting for a fool.
Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,
a curse that is causeless does not alight.
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the back of fools.
Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool
cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless,
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like one who binds the stone in the sling
is one who gives honor to a fool.
Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like an archer who wounds everyone
is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.
Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”
As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.
The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven men who can answer sensibly.
Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
is the man who deceives his neighbor
and says, “I am only joking!”
For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;
when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven abominations in his heart;
though his hatred be covered with deception,
his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.
Proverbs 26 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It’s hard to hold our tongue sometimes. We enter into a conversation where another may have an opposing view. We are dragged into a discussion where feelings are raw and attacking. We find ourselves in a dialogue where the salacious details of some situation may bring about talk that is not constructive. We go tête-à-tête with another to prove our point. These scenarios are worthless. They usually are a waste of our energy and time.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him.”Proverbs 26:4
It’s easy for us to be sucked into such fruitless and pointless conversations, isn’t it? The question to ponder or really the several to consider – are these who are driving us into such exchanges foolish? The fruit of their lives should speak to us before we speak. If these of whom we are conversing with driven by their own determination to be right, to be difficult (you know who they are), are such conversations worth it? Look at their fruit! Consider if they are simply stirring up trouble with their own negativity? Do these conversations bring any glory to God in the end?
These are questions we must consider. For as we know, those who are set so firmly in their ways, giving into their own desire for being right will stop at nothing to get their opinion across. If they are unteachable or unwilling to see another side of things, sometimes the best thing to do is walk away from the talk. Sometimes it’s not worth even entering into the fray of their opinions. For when we stay silent, when we do not give into such meaningless conversation our silence speaks more than what we say.
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.”Proverbs 26:20
Exercise discernment. Seek the Spirit’s will on if we should speak or be silent. Stay clear of these who are determined to stir the pot. Walk away if need be so our own foolishness will not match theirs.
Proverbs 26 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
I’m going to analyze Proverbs 26:5 because it seems to have contradicted what Hank has just commented on in verse 4. Here are both of the verses in context…
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”Proverbs 26:4-5 ESV
Hank hit the nail on the head with verse 4. There are some conversations that simply are not fruitful and should be avoided. However, after reading verse 5, it becomes somewhat confusing. Why are we told not to answer the fool in 4 and then to answer the fool in 5?
I believe this passage speaks to discernment and Spirit-led encounters. There are situations where we will be forced to answer the fool. Practically-speaking, we cannot avoid every situation that presents a conflict. When that occurs, we should feel confident knowing that God’s truth is absolute.
For those of us who know God, and know His Word, we must understand that these truths are not just ideas. Our words are the absolute truth from an absolute God, and they have the ability to destroy worldviews.
Spirit-led words cut deep into the lives of others. This is why we must use discernment when knowing whether we answer or do not answer a fool. If you look at the verses again, you will notice that the purpose of remaining silent is so that you don’t become foolish yourself. The purpose of answering a fool is so that they will not become puffed up with nonsense.
The Spirit was sent to guide us in all truth, for all situations and circumstances. Do not fear people who challenge God, but do not seek them out merely to win an argument either.