4 Answer not a [self-confident] fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.
5 Answer a [self-confident] fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes andconceit.
6 He who sends a message by the hand of a [a]fool cuts off the feet [of satisfactory delivery] and drinks the damage.
7 Like the legs of a lame man which hang loose, so is a parable in the mouth of a fool.
8 Like he who binds a stone in a sling, so is he who gives honor to a [self-confident] fool.
9 Like a thorn that goes [without being felt] into the hand of a drunken man, so is a proverb in the mouth of a [self-confident] fool.
10 [But] like an archer who wounds all, so is he who hires a fool or chance passers-by.
11 As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.
12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes and conceit? There is more hope for a [self-confident] fool than for him. (Book of Proverbs, Chapter 26, Verses 4-12, Amplified Version)
Many times have I read these verses. Initially I had some problems with the fact that Solomon would call anyone a fool. But life has brought me to get over my objections on the point.
The obvious contradiction between verses 4 and 5 often caught my attention. The take away became clear: No matter what you say to a fool, you lose.
Now it is clear that these nine verses, from 4 through 12, constitute a nicely crafted warning for anyone faced with dealing with a fool: You will lose!
If you think you are wise enough to deal with a fool and get away without harm, you are the greater fool. The dog will return to the vomit. The fool will return to the folly. You may try to teach a fool the wisdom of a proverb. The fool may mouth it but the wisdom will not sink in. You may try to honor a fool and build up the self esteem. That will come back and whack you in the head like a rock.
What’s the overall message? I guess it will depend on your personal situation. If you are contemplating marriage, though, remember fools can be handsome. They can be beautiful. They can be educated. They can be smart. They can be rich. They can be sweet at first taste, like the fast food that later leaves you toxic.
Fools do not go around with a sign saying “Beware, Fool on Board.” This begs the question: How the heck do we steer clear of them in the first place? Well, the answer that comes to my mind, is to recognize that each of us is a fool in his own way. That is why we must seek wisdom at all cost and continually. As soon as we think we are wise, we become fools and will dwell with fools.
So the take away for me, at least is a prayer: Oh Lord, overcome my foolishness daily with your context appropriate wisdom for the day. Amen.
How does this all strike you? Please let me know. You can post a comment or use the form below to send me a direct message.