Proverbs 26:1

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 22:4

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honor, and life.
– Proverbs 22:4

The beginning by expresses a consequence. The condition is humility and fear of the Lord. The result, or reward, is riches, honor, and life. The word for humility means condescension, modesty, or meekness. The word is set opposite haughtiness in Proverbs 18:12. Pride brings destruction, but true honor is preceded by humility (Proverbs 11:2; 16:5, 18-19; 29:23). Fear and humility are the necessary conditions for acquiring wisdom (Proverbs 2:5; 8:13; 9:10). The rewards of wisdom are elsewhere expressed in these terms (Proverbs 3:16; 21:21).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 21:21

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honor.
– Proverbs 21:21

The word for righteousness means rightness, or justice. The word for mercy means goodness, kindness, and faithfulness. The word has a range of meaning that includes pity, but also loyalty, or fidelity. Sometimes it is translated as kindness or lovingkindness. The word is used to describe God’s remembering to show kindness to Naomi (Ruth 2:20), and Boaz doing the same for Ruth (Ruth 3:10). The two together describe a life in the way of wisdom and the proverb speaks directly to those pursuing that way. Pursuing and keeping to the upright way of wisdom enriches the life of the wise (Proverbs 3:16; 22:4).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 18:12

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
– Proverbs 18:12

To be haughty is to be lofty, or exalted, at least in one’s own eyes. Self-conceit primes one to be brought low (Proverbs 16:18; 26:12; 29:23). The second phrase appears in another proverb where humility is coupled with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 15:33). Wisdom brings honor, but that path leads through humility (Proverbs 3:16).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 15:33

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.
– Proverbs 15:33

Proverbs begins with the root issue of acquiring wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). There is no wisdom without the fear of the Lord. Fools do not want the fear of the Lord and therefore do not acquire wisdom, though they try to get it other ways (Proverbs 17:16). The word for instruction means discipline, or training. So the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of the way of wisdom, but it is the whole course. Acquiring wisdom requires humility, and that is the only way to the honor wisdom brings (Proverbs 3:16). The contrast is pride that refuses reproofs and goes on to destruction (Proverbs 18:12; 29:23).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 14:28

In the multitude of people is the king’s honor: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.
– Proverbs 14:28

This proverb is a wise observation of life. A king’s honor, or glory, is not in his conquests and power. The measure of a king’s true honor is in the peace, prosperity, and flourishing of the people under his rule (Proverbs 29:2; 1 Kings 4:20). The word for want means an end or ceasing. In the context, it’s the end of prosperity and the opposite of flourishing, and such is the destruction, or ruin, of honor. This sort of ruler rules selfishly and invites rebellion (Proverbs 30:29-31).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 13:18

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honored.
– Proverbs 13:18

This proverb is a truism of outcomes in life. The word for shame points to disgrace, or dishonor, and poverty is just that. This comes to one who refuses instruction, which is discipline including correction. Despising instruction is the proverbial characteristic of the fool (Proverbs 1:7). The contrast is to regard reproof. To regard is to keep or give heed. The word for reproof leans more to the correction. Such correction is an indispensable part of acquiring wisdom (Proverbs 15:5, 31-32; 9:9; 25:12).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 11:16

A gracious woman retaineth honor: and strong men retain riches.
– Proverbs 11:16

The point of the contrast in this proverb is not to contrast men and women as such, but rather to provide a through-going contrast. Both lines present a contrast from start to finish. The word for gracious points to kindness and charm. It can refer to objective beauty, but physical beauty is not meant, or at least not the emphasis here, as verse 22 later shows. To retain is to obtain and to keep. The point of the phrase is that honor is obtained and kept through graciousness. The word for strong means oppressive and tyrannical. Riches can be obtained and kept by such means. The point of the contrast then becomes clear. Only riches can be obtained that way. Such men will not retain honor. The gracious woman may or may not obtain wealth, but she will retain honor.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series