Proverbs 26 – August 26

CC Image courtesy of zoetnet on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of zoetnet on Flickr.

Proverbs 26
Author: Randy Sheets

“Wise in their own eyes.”

A couple of years ago we were out with my son and daughter and their families at a local Italian restaurant. My daughter-in-law was giving the waiter her order and asked for a side order of Italian bread-bruschetta. The waiter, in the haughty way some waiters have, looked rather condescendingly at her and said “It’s pronounced brushetta.”

Every adult at the table immediately looked up from their menus to look at the waiter and then at Elena to see what would happen next. Here’s what we hoped she would say:

“Look buddy, I’m half Italian, I grew up in Italy, and Italian is my first language. I was ordering bruschetta before you could read a menu. When I pronounce it brusketta you can bet that’s the correct pronunciation!”

But instead she just looked at him and said “Okay…whatever, that’s what I’ll have.”

Much of the Proverbs 26 deals with fools and the folly of trying to work, reason or in any other way deal with them. Further, the person worse than a fool is the one who thinks he knows it all-as in verse 12:

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

Some people will not be open to instruction because they feel they have nothing further to learn-they know it all! (How many political or religious “discussions” have you ever seen where someone actually changes their mind?)

Others, it they show a willingness to learn, will find there are any number of people who will gently instruct and guide them correctly.

How would it have been different if the waiter had said “I thought it was always pronounced brushetta, but I’m not sure.”? Elena would probably have patiently told him the proper pronunciation and the reason she could be trusted to know. And he would have gotten a bigger tip!

Proverbs 26 – July 26

CC Image courtesy of Rachel Monroe on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Rachel Monroe on Flickr.

Proverbs 26
Author: Daniel Wheeler

So, do I or don’t I “answer a fool according to his folly?” This is the question in light of Proverbs 26:4-5. One verse cautions that if we do we will become fools ourselves, the second cautions that if we don’t the fool will become “wise in his own eyes.” Frustrating.

We so desperately want things to be simple. Life is complicated and navigating it equally so. Proverbs, at first glance, appeals to that desire for simple, clear instruction.

However, when we look carefully at Proverbs, we discover that living wisely is not so simple. We discover that it is not enough to know what to do, we must also know when to do it, “There is a time for everything…” says the Teacher.

So, how can we know the proper time to “answer the fool?” The text itself may provide some clues. To begin, we should note that all fools are not created equal. Some are simply naïve and don’t know any better and may yet respond to instruction. But some are fools because they are proud – these fools are “wise in their own eyes” and have rejected wise instruction because they “know better.”

Interestingly, verses 4-16 all have something to do with fools. First, in verses 6-11 we are given two examples of persons who are made fools because they trusted a fool to perform work. (26:6 and 10) Were they somehow “answering the fool according to his folly?”

Next, the phrase, “wise in his own eyes” appears in some form in verses 5, 12, and 16 – first in reference to the fool, next in contrast with the fool, and last in reference to the sluggard. Thus, linking the proud fool of verses 4 and 5 to the proud sluggard.

Finally, verses 12-16 concern the sluggard with verses 12 and 16 indicating there is more hope for a fool than a sluggard who is proud. Is this fool is beyond instruction?

So, how does this help us answer the question? Perhaps, the text is telling us what to do – answer the fool according to his folly – and when to do it – before he becomes proud – because then it will be too late. The example then is the one who will not work. Teach him to work before he becomes proud. If you try to teach him once he is proud, he will only make a fool out of you.

So, do I or don’t I? It depends and only God can provide the answer. Frustrating. The good news is that he is faithful to do it, if we will ask and listen.

May God give us wisdom to know how and when to act – that our knowledge may be used effectively, in ways that bless and lead to righteousness.

Proverbs 26 – June 26

Image courtesy of Jana Anderson.

Image courtesy of Jana Anderson.

Proverbs 26
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.