Proverbs 26:4-5

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 26:4-5 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 KINGS 13

In this chapter is an account of a man of God being sent to exclaim against Jeroboam's altar, and threaten its destruction, of which he gave a sign, which was accomplished, and with it the withering of the king's hand, which was healed upon the prophet's prayer for him, 1Ki 13:1-7, who would have entertained him at his house, but he refused the offer, and departed, 1Ki 13:8-10, but an old prophet in Bethel hearing of him, rode after him, and fetched him back to eat bread with him, through a lie he told him, 1Ki 13:11-19 upon which the word came to the old prophet, threatening the man of God with death for disobeying his command, and which was accordingly executed by a lion that met him in the way, and slew him, 1Ki 13:20-24, of which the old prophet being informed, went and took up his carcass, and buried it in his own sepulchre, where he charged his sons to bury him also when dead, believing that all the man of God had said would be fulfilled, 1Ki 13:25-30 and the chapter is closed with observing the continuance of Jeroboam in his idolatry, 1Ki 13:33,34.

Proverbs 26:4-5 In-Context

2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools!
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.
6 Sending a message by the hands of a fool is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

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Cross References 2

  • 1. ver 5; Isaiah 36:21
  • 2. ver 4; S Proverbs 3:7