Author: Jana Anderson
We have a fun and happy little dog named Penny, who is sweet and energetic, wags her tail when she sees us, chews on squeaky toys, and generally goes about her day doing typical dog things.
One of those typical dog behaviors isn’t so funny: on long walks, if we are not watching, she will stop and try to consume dog excrement that she happens to spot in a yard or by a tree, as if she were approaching some really exceptional doggie delicacy.
I bet you didn’t expect to read that in your Proverbs devotional, but stay with me, because this (gross) picture of a dog returning to waste is a pivotal metaphor in Proverbs 26, where the writer attempts to show us with a graphic image the nature of foolishness, laziness, and malicious gossip. Make no mistake, the writer says; the consequences of these sins are irrational and repulsive.
Let’s take a closer look.
The writer of Proverbs says that when we act foolishly (v. 1-12), when we are so lazy and sluggish that we can’t even bring our cup to our own lips (v. 15), and when we talk about other people deceptively and enjoy the benefits of being charming in person but speaking maliciously about people in private (v. 17-end), then the writer says that these kinds of foolish, unwise behaviors are just “like a dog returning to his own vomit” (26:11). These behaviors are as unreasonable and illogical as “snow in summer or rain in harvest” (v. 1), or “cutting off one’s own feet” (v. 6), or “shooting deadly arrows [at someone] and saying, ‘I’m only joking’” (v. 18-19).
In other words, the lack of discernment, an unwillingness to work, and delighting in gossip are irrational at best, and in the end, make as much sense as a dog returning to dine on the very things that made it sick.