Proverbs 26:21

As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

– Proverbs 26:21

This saying uses the image of feeding fuel to a fire, whether coals or wood. A contentious man is a brawling or quarrelsome man. He fuels strife just wood fuels fire. Proverbs here adds contentious as a character that stirs up strife along with hateful and angry (Proverbs 10:12; 15:18; 29:22).

 


 

 

Proverbs 26:20

Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

– Proverbs 26:20

Verses 20-22 form sayings about the gossiping busybody. The word for talebearer means whisperer, and the word for strife means quarrel, or contest. The image of a fire is apt as a picture of gossip. James used this image when referring to the tongue and the destructive power it holds (James 3:6).  The two phrases parallel. Talebearing, or gossiping, is to strife as wood is to fire. It is the fuel. If you do not add wood, the fire will burn out. If you do not add gossip, strife will stop. Proverbs identifies several sources of strife—hatred (Proverbs 10:12), dishonesty (Proverbs 16:28), anger (Proverbs 15:18; 29:22; 30:33), pride (Proverbs 13:10; 28:25), foolishness (Proverbs 18:6; 20:3; 26:17), belligerence (Proverbs 26:21), and gossip (Proverbs 17:9; 26:20).

 


 

 

Proverbs 22:10

Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
– Proverbs 22:10

The word for scorner means to make mouths at, or to talk arrogantly. The scorner is a hardened type of fool in Proverbs who is mentally obstinate and belligerent (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1; 15:12). His problem is neither a lack of intelligence or information. His mental arrogance means he cannot acquire wisdom and his dislike of correction ensures he will not acquire wisdom (Proverbs 14:6; 13:1). The scorner is a troublemaker (Proverbs 29:8). Wisdom teaches to recognize a scorner and remove him to end unnecessary strife.

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Proverbs 20:3

It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
– Proverbs 20:3

The word for cease means to rest, or sit still. The word for strife means a dispute, or contention. The word for honor means glory and dignity. The first phrase says a noble man will avoid quarreling. Avoiding strife involves control of the tongue as well as anger (Proverbs 14:29; 18:13; 19:11; 25:8-10). The second phrase contrasts the honorable man with the fool, who is looking for strife. The word for meddling means to be obstinate, or to break out in the sense of stirring up strife. The fool delights and specializes in strife, in part due to the lack of restraint he has over his anger (Proverbs 14:17; 18:6).

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Proverbs 17:19

He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.
– Proverbs 17:19

To love strife is to exhibit folly and to invite trouble to oneself (Proverbs 17:14; 20:3; 26:17; 29:9, 22). The phrase exalteth his gate has been understood variously, but the parallel here best supports the idea of arrogant boasting. Exalting oneself is pursuing a fall (Proverbs 16:18; 18:12). This proverb aligns with others that warn of the consequences of such a rejection of wisdom (Proverbs 1:29-32; 8:36; 22:8).

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Proverbs 17:14

The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.
– Proverbs 17:14

This proverb warns of the consequences of starting and stirring strife. The image is like the opening of a flood gate. Perhaps it is more like one who continually picks at a hole in a dam until it finally busts loose. The foolish wicked are those continually stirring strife (Proverbs 17:19; 26:21; 29:22). Rather than causing contention, wisdom will leave off, appease, and prevent (Proverbs 13:10; 14:29; 15:1; 16:32; 19:11; 20:3; 25:8).

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Proverbs 17:1

Introduction
Chapter 17 continues the “Proverbs of Solomon.” The proverbs in this chapter are general with no grouping. They touch on a variety of topics, such as fools, speech, friendships, etc.

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.
– Proverbs 17:1

The overall statement of this proverb is being poor but having peace is better than being prosperous but having contentions. A dry morsel is a crust of bread without anything on it or to dip it in. It is a poor meal (Proverbs 15:17). The word for quietness means peace and security. A house full refers to abundance and sacrifices, by the parallelism, refers to a feast. The word for strife means controversy or dispute. Opportunities abound in life for strife, but wisdom avoids and appeases it, while folly starts it or enflames it (Proverbs 15:17; 17:14; 18:6; 20:3; 26:17, 21).

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Proverbs 16:28

A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
– Proverbs 16:28

The word for froward means perverse, or fraudulent. The use of soweth means to broadcast or spread, as a sower does with his seed. The perverse man spreads around strife, or contention (Proverbs 6:14, 19; 15:18). A whisperer is a gossip, talebearer, or slanderer. The sowing of strife and spreading of slander causes a rift between even chief friends. Those who are close with a good relationship can be separated by strife and contention. The proverb focuses on the damage done by sowing strife and whispering (Proverbs 17:9; 18:8).

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Proverbs 15:18

A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
– Proverbs 15:18

Hatred, pride, and anger in a man is the root of stirring up strife (Proverbs 10:12; 28:25; 29:22). The word for wrathful means heat, and we would say hot-headed, a quick temper, or a short fuse. He escalates strife and contentions like adding fuel onto a low burning fire (Proverbs 26:21). The contrast is with one who is slow to anger. He has the patience and wisdom to defuse situations and persuade for good (Proverbs 15:1; 25:15).

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