Proverbs 26

1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
    so honor is not fitting for a fool.
Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,
    a curse that is causeless does not alight.
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
    and a rod for the back of fools.
Answer not a fool according to his folly,
    lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
    lest he be wise in his own eyes.
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.
10 Like an archer who wounds everyone
    is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.
11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit
    is a fool who repeats his folly.
12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
    There is more hope for a fool than for him.
13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
    There is a lion in the streets!”
14 As a door turns on its hinges,
    so does a sluggard on his bed.
15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
    it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.
16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
    than seven men who can answer sensibly.
17 Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
    is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
18 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
19 is the man who deceives his neighbor
    and says, “I am only joking!”
20 For lack of wood the fire goes out,
    and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
    they go down into the inner parts of the body.
23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
    are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
    and harbors deceit in his heart;
25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
    for there are seven abominations in his heart;
26 though his hatred be covered with deception,
    his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
    and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
28 A lying tongue hates its victims,
    and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Proverbs 26 continues the theme of our words, and I immediately spot in verse 17 the chaos of my life with little ones — and our world. The Message says it this way: “You grab a mad dog by the ears when you butt into a quarrel that’s none of your business.” Oh, how true, and how painful. Engaging in political, social, and religious arguments often accomplishes little more than stirring up a mad dog. In my own home, I’m often heard telling a child who is meddling with a sibling, “Stay out of it! Worry about yourself!” Or, “Mind your own business! Stay in your own lane!”

Pause: Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears (vs. 17).

Ponder: In what am I tempted to meddle? What is the result when I jump into the fray? Why is it so hard to stay out of a quarrel that is not mine? How does the Lord want me to respond to controversial issues? How does this proverb instruct me in the Lord’s wise ways?

Pray: Thank You, God, for the picture of a mad dog, for it will help me pause before entering a quarrel that I have no business entering. So often I long to be right and for that rightness to win the day, but You are reminding me here in Proverbs 26 that the fool will not be won over by my own foolish outbursts. Give me Your wisdom!

— Jaime Sherman