Proverbs 26:6

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

– Proverbs 26:6

 

This proverb focuses on the sender more than the foolish messenger. Other proverbs speak of employing a messenger and the whole pictures contrasts the negative effects of sending a sluggard or a fool and the positive effects of sending a faithful messenger (Proverbs 10:26; 13:17; 25:13). The image here, cutteth off the feet and drinketh damage, shows the foolish messenger being unhelpful and hurtful.  Drinking speaks of abundance, or excessive damage, or violence.

 


 

 

Proverbs 26:5

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

– Proverbs 26:5

This verse seems to contradict the previous one, but this one aims at correction, “lest he be wise in his own conceit.” If there is any hope for a fool, he must be corrected (Proverbs 26:12). The previous verse teaches not to abandon wisdom to be like a fool. This verse teaches to use wisdom in turning the fool’s folly against him. Paul did this with the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33. Taking the two verses together could be understood as teaching us to pick our battles wisely.

 


 

 

Proverbs 26:4

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

– Proverbs 26:4

This verse continues the theme of fools and works together with the next verse, which seems to be contradictory. The difficulty presented by the seemingly opposite statements is representative of the difficulty of dealing with fools in general. The key is in the second phrase in each saying. The consequence in this verse is being like a fool yourself. Don’t reason like a fool, use verbal overflows, answer before understanding, etc. In other words, don’t abandon wisdom to answer a fool.

 


 

 

Proverbs 26:3

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.

– Proverbs 26:3

 

This verse keeps with the theme of fittedness from the first two verses. The whip, bridle, and rod are fit for the horse, ass, and fool, respectively. The imagery works on at least two levels. The animals must be led and controlled by the whip and halter, just as the fool must be punished, or constrained by the rod. These animals are generally known for stubbornness and difficulty to handle and the fool is likened to them. Wisdom has previously shown the fool does not respond to verbal correction or instruction (Proverbs 10:13).

 


 

 

Proverbs 26:2

As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

– Proverbs 26:2

 

The wording of this verse is difficult and commentators struggle with it. It’s best to take the verse as a part of the first 12 verses, else it would be the only one out of theme in this group. The curse in this verse is opposite of the honor in the first verse, so this verse seems connected in that way. Honor is not fitting for a fool and here the curse considered is causeless, or without reason. The image given is of birds flitting about, but never landing and remaining. The causeless curse will not stick.

 


 

 

Proverbs 26:1

Introduction
Chapter 26 continues with Solomon’s proverbs collected by the men of King Hezekiah’s court. The proverbs in this chapter address the subjects of fools, sluggards, trouble makers, and speech.

As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honor is not seemly for a fool.
– Proverbs 26:1

Verses 1-12 speak about fools and dealing with fools. This proverb uses two weather images to warn us against honoring, or elevating, fools. The first image of snow in summer is something that it out of place. Snow simply does not belong in summer. The second image of rain in harvest is something that is unwanted and disastrous. The word for seemly means suitable, or becoming. Wisdom teaches to not give honor to fools, for they are not fit for it and will likely be disastrous.

 


 

Proverbs 25:28

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
– Proverbs 25:28

This chapter ends with an obvious proverb comparing the lack of self-control to a city without defenses. The genius of the simile is that the city is not merely without walls, but it is broken down, or broken through. A man with no self-control has been overcome and has no resistance so he is vulnerable.

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Proverbs 25:27

It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
– Proverbs 25:27

The wording of this proverb is difficult and the surprising second line has led to wide speculations. Previous proverbs have highlighted the benefits of honey and the necessity of moderation (Proverbs 24:13; 25:16). Overindulging in honey ruins it. The very quality that makes it desirable and pleasurable, its sweetness, is the same quality that makes it nauseating when gorged on. The second line of this proverb connects to the first in that way. Men searching their own glory ruins the very thing they are seeking.

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Proverbs 25:26

A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
– Proverbs 25:26

The word for falling down means to shake or slip. Its use here points to a loss of integrity for the righteous, or just man. A troubled fountain describes a water source that has been muddied by stamping, and a corrupt spring is contaminated water in some way. The images portray water that has been ruined and is useless. The comparison is to the compromised person, who’s reputation has been lost and they are effectively useless.

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