Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
1. The incongruities of nature illustrate also those of the moral world. The fool's unworthiness is also implied (Pr 17:7; 19:10).
As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.
2. Though not obvious to us,
the bird—literally, "sparrow"—and
swallow—have an object in their motions, so penal evil falls on none without a reason.
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.
3. The rod is as much needed by fools and as well suited to them, as whips and bridles are for beasts.
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
4, 5. Answer not—that is, approvingly by like folly.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
5. Answer—by reproof.
He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.
6. A fool fails by folly as surely as if he were maimed.
drinketh damage—that is, gets it abundantly (Job 15:16; 34:7).
The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
7. legs … equal—or, "take away the legs," or "the legs … are weak." In any case the idea is that they are the occasion of an awkwardness, such as the fool shows in using a parable or proverb (see Introduction; Pr 17:7).
As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.
8. A stone, bound in a sling, is useless; so honor, conferred on a fool, is thrown away.
As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
9. As vexatious and unmanageable as a thorn in a drunkard's hand is a parable to a fool. He will be as apt to misuse is as to use it rightly.
The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.
10. Various versions of this are proposed (compare Margin). Better perhaps—"Much He injures (or literally, "wounds") all who reward," &c., that is, society is injured by encouraging evil men.
transgressors—may be rendered "vagrants." The word "God" is improperly supplied.
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
11. returneth … folly—Though disgusting to others, the fool delights in his folly.
Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
12. The self-conceited are taught with more difficulty than the stupid.
The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.
13. (Compare Pr 22:13).
As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.
14. (Compare Pr 6:10; 24:33).
The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.
15. (Compare Pr 19:24).
The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.
16. The thoughtless being ignorant of their ignorance are conceited.
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
17. meddleth—as in Pr 20:19; 24:21; as either holding a dog by the ears or letting him go involves danger, so success in another man's strife or failure involves a useless risk of reputation, does no good, and may do us harm.
As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,
18, 19. Such are reckless of results.
So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?
Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
20, 21. The talebearers foster (Pr 16:28), and the contentious excite, strife.
As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
22. (Compare Pr 18:8).
Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
23. Warm professions can no more give value to insincerity than silver coating to rude earthenware.
He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;
24. dissembleth—though an unusual sense of the word (compare Margin), is allowable, and better suits the context, which sets forth hypocrisy.
When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
25. Sentiment of Pr 26:24 carried out.
seven abominations in his heart—that is, very many (compare Pr 24:16).
Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.
26, 27. Deceit will at last be exposed, and the wicked by their own arts often bring on retribution (compare Pr 12:13; Ps 7:16; 9:17, &c.).
Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.
A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
28. Men hate those they injure.
A lying tongue—"lips" for the persons (compare Pr 4:24; Ps 12:3).