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 26:1

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 24:7

Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.
– Proverbs 24:7

Commentators differ on whether verse 7 is its own saying, or if it is part of the saying before it or after it. It seems best to take it on its own as a saying, though connections can be made with the saying before and after. The word for wisdom here is the general term comprehending all aspects of wisdom—knowledge, understanding, discernment, etc. Being too high means it is above, or beyond, a fool. Though a fool may seek wisdom, he cannot find it, or even recognize it when it is before him (Proverbs 14:6; 17:24). The previous saying emphasized the necessity of wise counsel in making war, but this saying shows the fool unable to even speak to high matters. The image of the gate refers to the place of judgment in the city. It is where important matters were discussed and decided, as well the place of deciding legal matters. Wisdom requires opening one’s mouth to come to the defense of the oppressed and plead for judgment for them (Proverbs 31:8-9). Though fools are known for prating foolishness (Proverbs 15:2, 28), they have nothing to say when wisdom is needed.

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Proverbs 23:35

They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
– Proverbs 23:35

The saying concludes with the words of the drunkard. It’s a pathetic picture of the self-destruction a man is brought to who indulges and feeds his addictions and compulsions. The drunkard is senseless and painless toward all remedial efforts. He says, “I was not sick,” and, “I felt it not.” The drunkard is truly a particular type of fool, heedless of correction (Proverbs 27:22). In true proverbial fashion, he says, “I will seek it yet again.” The fool who will not learn wisdom, will only continue on hardened against correction and senseless of the consequences (Proverbs 26:11).

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Proverbs 23:9

Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.
– Proverbs 23:9

Verse 9 stands alone, though it complements the pearls-before-swine aspect of the previous group. To speak … in the ears is to make a direct address. It refers to a direct word of reproof, counsel, or instruction. The word for fool is the most common in Proverbs and refers to a stupid and obstinate person. Their problem is not ignorance, or lack of information, but rather the hate and rejection of wisdom (Proverbs 1:22). Words of wisdom are lost on fools and gain only hatred for the speaker of them (Proverbs 9:7-8; 15:12).

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Proverbs 21:20

There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.
– Proverbs 21:20

This proverb is straightforward and we shouldn’t pull its punch by trying to spiritualize it. Wisdom says the wise lay up in store and the foolish squander all they have. The word for wise means skillful and is used throughout Proverbs to refer to living prudently and righteously. Proverbs never instructs to seek wealth (Proverbs 23:4-5; 28:22), nor does it instruct to seek poverty (30:7-9). Rather, Proverbs instructs to sacrificially and persistently seek wisdom, for it is more important and valuable than earthly treasures (Proverbs 2:2-4; 3:14-15; 8:18-19; 16:16; 23:23). While Proverbs never promises wealth to those who acquire wisdom, wealth will generally come to those who acquire money wisely (Proverbs 10:4; 11:8; 16:11; 21:6; 22:22-23), and use money wisely (Proverbs 3:9-10, 27-28; 6:6-8; 11:24-26; 13:22; 22:9; 28:27; 31:16, 20-22). Proverbs also warns that wealth can be lost through folly (Proverbs 11:6; 21:5; 23:20-2124:30-31; 27:23-27; 28:22).

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