Verse 1 Honour is out of season to those unworthy and unfit for it. Verse 2 . He that is cursed without cause, the curse shall do him no more harm than the bird that flies over his head. Verse 3 . Every creature must be dealt with according to its nature, but careless and profligate sinners never will be ruled by reason and persuasion. Man indeed is born like the wild ass's colt; but ( proverbs 26:4-5 ) remarks to the man, and address them to his conscience, so as may best end the debate. ( 6-9 ) . Fools are not fit to be trusted, nor to have any honour. Wise sayings, as a foolish man delivers and applies them, lose their usefulness. Verse 10 . This verse may either declare how the Lord, the Creator of all men, will deal with sinners according to their guilt, or, how the powerful among men should disgrace and punish the wicked. Verse 11 . The dog is a loathsome emblem of those sinners who return to their vices, ( Verse 12 ) . We see many a one who has some little sense, but is proud of it. This describes those who think their spiritual state to be good, when really it is very bad. Verse 13 . The slothful man hates every thing that requires care and labour. But it is foolish to frighten ourselves from real duties by fancied difficulties. This may be applied to a man slothful in the duties of religion. Verse 14 . 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. Verse 15 . The sluggard is now out of his bed, but he might have lain there, for any thing 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. Verse 16 . He that takes pains in religion, knows he is working for a good Master, and that his labour shall not be in vain. Verse 17 . To make ourselves busy in other men's matters, is to ( proverbs 26:18-19 ) must repent in earnest, or his sin will be his ruin. ( 20-22 ) . Contention heats the spirit, and puts families and societies into a flame. And that fire is commonly kindled and kept burning by whisperers and backbiters. Verse 23 . A wicked heart disguising itself, is like a potsherd covered with the dross of silver. ( 24-26 ) . Always distrust when a man speaks fair unless you know him well. Satan, in his temptations, speaks fair, as he did to Eve; but it is madness to give credit to him. Verse 27 . What pains men take to do mischief to others! but it is digging a pit, it is rolling a stone, hard work; and they prepare mischief to themselves. Verse 28 . There are two sorts of lies equally detestable. A slandering lie, the mischief of this every body sees. A flattering lie, which secretly works ruin. A wise man will be more afraid of a flatterer than of a slanderer.
Proverbs 26:1-28 .
1. The incongruities of nature illustrate also those of the moral world. The fool's unworthiness is also implied ( Proverbs 17:7 , 19:10 ).
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.
3. The rod is as much needed by fools and as well suited to them, as whips and bridles are for beasts.
4, 5. Answer not--that is, approvingly by like folly.
5. Answer--by reproof.
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 ).
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
8. A stone, bound in a sling, is useless; so honor, conferred on a fool, is thrown away.
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.
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.
11. returneth . . . folly--Though disgusting to others, the fool delights in his folly.
12. The self-conceited are taught with more difficulty than the stupid.
13. (Compare Proverbs 22:13 ).
14. (Compare Proverbs 6:10 , 24:33 ).
15. (Compare Proverbs 19:24 ).
16. The thoughtless being ignorant of their ignorance are conceited.
17. meddleth--as in Proverbs 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.
18, 19. Such are reckless of results.
20, 21. The talebearers foster ( Proverbs 16:28 ), and the contentious excite, strife.
22. (Compare Proverbs 18:8 ).
23. Warm professions can no more give value to insincerity than silver coating to rude earthenware.
24. dissembleth--though an unusual sense of the word (compare Margin), is allowable, and better suits the context, which sets forth hypocrisy.
25. Sentiment of Proverbs 26:24 carried out.
seven abominations in his heart--that is, very many (compare Proverbs 24:16 ).
26, 27. Deceit will at last be exposed, and the wicked by their own arts often bring on retribution (compare Proverbs 12:13 , Psalms 7:16 , 9:17 , &c.).
28. Men hate those they injure.
A lying tongue--"lips" for the persons (compare Proverbs 4:24 , Psalms 12:3 ).