Summary: This is a verse by verse look at Proverbs chapter 26.

We will now look at chapter twenty six.

1 Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, So honor is not fitting for a fool. Proverbs 26:1 (NASB)

Snow in summer and rain at harvest time are not desirable. Honor is not fitted for a fool.

2 Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, So a curse without cause does not alight. Proverbs 26:2 (NASB)

"An undeserved curse will not land" - this means that it has no effect. Do not criticize when it is not deserved.

3 A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, And a rod for the back of fools. Proverbs 26:3 (NASB)

The whip and the bridle are to be used as training tools not for brutality. The rod is to teach and train.

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him. 5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes. Proverbs 26:4-5 (NASB)

These two verses seem to contradict, but they actually are purposely demonstrating the contradiction between reason and folly. A fool remains a fool whether he is answered or not. The wise person has a choice to make depending on what he or she sees is the greatest need of the fool. Some fools don't deserve an answer because they are clearly not in a mood to listen, and those who try to answer them will simply stoop to their level. There are other situations where common sense says to answer the fool in order to expose his or her pride and folly.

Matthew Henry says of these verses:

"We are to fit our remarks to the man, and address them to his conscience, so as may best end the debate."

6 He cuts off his own feet and drinks violence Who sends a message by the hand of a fool. Proverbs 26:6 (NASB)

How a message is delivered may be as important as the message itself. Don't send a fool to deliver something important.

7 Like the legs which are useless to the lame, So is a proverb in the mouth of fools. Proverbs 26:7 (NASB)

Some people are so dulled that they won't sense the wisdom even if they memorize these proverbs. A mindlessly quoted proverb proves as useless as a paralyzed body part. Only those who want to be wise have the receptive attitude needed to make the most of these wise words. If we want to learn from God, he will respond and pour out his heart to us. Proverbs 1:23 says:

"Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you." Proverbs 1:23 (NASB)

8 Like one who binds a stone in a sling, So is he who gives honor to a fool. Proverbs 26:8 (NASB)

Sometimes when someone in a group causes discord or dissension, the leader tries to make that person loyal and productive by giving him or her a place of privilege or responsibility. This usually doesn't work. In fact, it is like tying a stone to the sling of a slingshot—it won't go anywhere and will swing back and hurt you. The dissenter's new power may be just what he or she needs to manipulate the group.

9 Like a thorn which falls into the hand of a drunkard, So is a proverb in the mouth of fools. Proverbs 26:9 (NASB)

Normally the first prick of a thorn alerts us, so we remove the thorn before it damages us. A drunk person, however, may not feel the thorn, and so it will work its way into his flesh. Similarly, a fool may not feel the sting of a proverb because he does not see how it applies to his life. Instead of taking its point to heart, a fool will apply it to his church, his employer, his spouse, or whomever he is rebelling against. The next time you find yourself saying, "So-and-so should really pay attention to that," stop and ask yourself, Is there a message in it for me?

10 Like an archer who wounds everyone, So is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by. Proverbs 26:10 (NASB)

Be careful where the arrows fly. An unskilled archer can wound everyone around. Fools can too.

11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit Is a fool who repeats his folly. Proverbs 26:11 (NASB)

This is a graphic picture though true. Some people love to live in the filth of life and will return to it over and over again.

12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 26:12 (NASB)

It is a danger to see yourself as wise. Pride is just around the corner and with pride will come a fall. You may have some wisdom - yet remember that there is always those who are wiser.

13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road! A lion is in the open square!" Proverbs 26:13 (NASB)

If a person is not willing to work, he or she can find endless excuses to avoid it. But laziness is more dangerous than a prowling lion. The less you do, the less you want to do, and the more useless you become. To overcome laziness, take a few small steps toward change. Set a concrete, realistic goal. Figure out the steps needed to reach it, and follow those steps. Pray for strength and persistence. To keep your excuses from making you useless, stop making useless excuses.

14 As the door turns on its hinges, So does the sluggard on his bed. Proverbs 26:14 (NASB)

Matthew Henry says of this verse:

"Having seen the slothful man in fear of his work, here we find him in love with his ease. Bodily ease is the sad occasion of many spiritual diseases. He does not care to get forward with his business. Slothful professors turn thus. The world and the flesh are hinges on which they are hung; and though they move in a course of outward services, yet they are not the nearer to heaven."

15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; He is weary of bringing it to his mouth again. Proverbs 26:15 (NASB)

Matthew Henry says of this verse:

"The sluggard is now out of his bed, but he might have lain there, for anything he is likely to bring to pass in his work. It is common for men who will not do their duty, to pretend they cannot. Those that are slothful in religion, will not be at the pains to feed their souls with the bread of life, nor to fetch in promised blessings by prayer."

16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can give a discreet answer. Proverbs 26:16 (NASB)

The lazy man believes that he is wise. He may hear the same advice from seven people - yet he believes he knows better than all of them.

17 Like one who takes a dog by the ears Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him. Proverbs 26:17 (NASB)

Yanking the ears of a dog is a good way to get bitten, and interfering in arguments is a good way to get hurt. Many times both arguers will turn on the person who interferes. It is best simply to keep out of arguments that are none of your business. If you must become involved, try to wait until the arguers have stopped fighting and cooled off a bit. Then maybe you can help them mend their differences and their relationship.

18 Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death, 19 So is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, "Was I not joking?" Proverbs 26:18-19 (NASB)

To act rude and crude will hurt people around you - even though you may consider it "fun". Matthew Henry says;

"He that sins in jest, must repent in earnest, or his sin will be his ruin."

20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. Proverbs 26:20 (NASB)

You have the ability to control the conversation. Talking about every little irritation and piece of gossip only keeps the fires of anger going. Refusing to discuss them cuts the fuel line and makes the fires die out. Does someone continually irritate you? Decide not to complain about the person, and see if your irritation dies from lack of fuel.

21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. Proverbs 26:21 (NASB)

If you add fuel to the fire do you not expect it to get hotter?

22 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body. Proverbs 26:22 (NASB)

Words can bring healing. They don't to be loud but they must be southing.

23 Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross Are burning lips and a wicked heart. Proverbs 26:23 (NASB)

A wicked heart may look pleasant on the outside but it is still clay on the inside.

24 He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart. Proverbs 26:24 (NASB)

What a person says does not always reveal the intention of the heart. There are those who hate you - yet will speak as though they are your best friend.

25 When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart. Proverbs 26:25 (NASB)

You cannot see the motivation of person nor can you see the abominations of a person's heart. There may be a multitude of reasons why a person says what they say. Let gracious words roll off your back.

26 Though his hatred covers itself with guile, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Proverbs 26:26 (NASB)

One day the intentions of the heart will be revealed. All we can see now are the outward actions.

27 He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. Proverbs 26:27 (NASB)

One may dig a trap and fall into it himself. He may set a stone in motion only to be run over by it. Therefore, be careful of the intentions of your heart for they can bring pain to yourself. and cause you trouble.

28 A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin. Proverbs 26:28 (NASB)

It is easier to speak evil than to do it - yet all are hurtful.