Proverbs 26:6-12

has Solomon continuing to define a fool. He chooses to do it by comparing the fool to things the reader can relate to. He uses a series of “like the” statements, to colorfully explain the nature of the fool:

  • 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.”

These are absurd illustrations, but they contrast a fool with things that make a point. Most readers can relate to just how much a fool is a real problem.

Solomon continues his comparison by comparing a fool to an archer who can’t control where his arrows fly. There is no indication that the archer is blindfolded or anything more than just careless and foolish. The problem is that those kinds of actions are not harmless but rather can cause wounds or death.  We have to resist having fools around as they can create significant damage. “Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” God’s guidance and governing over all things extends to the fool and the transgressor. He will make sure they get what is due, as both their hire and their wages. God is in control, even over those who are not necessarily following Him.

Solomon next compares a fool to something that is somewhat repulsive to us – a dog returning to his vomit. A fool will not change their ways apart from a dramatic transformation. Just as it is in the dog’s nature to return to his own vomit, it is the fool’s nature to repeat his folly. Peter illustrates the repulsive nature of a sinner returning to their sin in his writing. “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”  Bridges wrote “We naturally turn away from this sight. Would that we had the same disgust at the sin that it so graphically portrays.” We need to be sure we aren’t foolish when it comes to sin.  We have to be sure not to make the same mistake a fool does.

But Solomon then gives us perspective on pride versus foolishness. He’s railed on just how bad it is to be a fool.  But here he makes it even more of a distinction against anyone who thinks they are wise. Despite the severe treatment of the fool, Solomon thought of a man in even worse danger—the proud man, the one wise in his own eyes. This is a special type of folly, one that will never learn the ways of wisdom. “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” The peril is a very subtle one. We are prone to be wise in our own mind, without knowing that we are doing it. A simple question can help detect it. Do we fail to seek divine guidance in any undertaking because we do not feel a need for it; In other words, we are wise in our own little world and don’t feel like we need God’s input or direction. That is a sign of pride.

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