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Proverbs 26

Posted on by Bill Mann

A message by Pastor Bill Mann on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at King’s Grace Fellowship.
Proverbs 26:1-28


Tonight, we have the opportunity to study devotionally Proverbs 26. This Proverb has a bunch of proverbs that make a lot of sense when understood within the ancient context.

Our job is to dig up these concepts, understand what it meant to the people of the time it was written in, then figure out how to apply it in today’s world.

There are always sound principles that can be clearly seen in Proverbs and the clear call to heed the wisdom contained in them. Yet we sometimes disregard what we know to be good, better, or best and a disconnect emerges. So, we need a dedication to apply the wisdom of God to our life’s situations rather than beg God to deliver us from our poor choices.

So, let’s begin tonight by ready Proverbs 26. This proverb can be grouped together in 4 main parts.

  1. Foolish People (vv. 1-12, except v. 2)
  2. Lazy People (vv. 13-16)
  3. People who lack common sense (vv. 17-28)

Verses 1, 2, 8, 11, 18, and 22 make use of similes. Verses 6, 7, 9, 10, 14, 21, and 23 do not have a formal “like” structure, but they also make comparisons and are translated as similes in some versions. The entire chapter is a series of warnings against behavior that harms or threatens the individual or society as a whole.[1] [2]

Highlight #1 – Foolish People (Proverbs 26:1-12)

As I read through this passage the thought occurred to me that in no way do I want to be a fool.  We recall Bible verses that warn us about calling our brothers or sisters a fool, so what gives? I actually believe that we do not have a good understanding of what a fool is. At least from the Biblical standpoint.  I also think, that we should have an accurate understanding of what a biblical fool is in order to understand these proverbs.

The common definition of a fool is as follows (1): “A person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person” (Noun). “Act in a joking, frivolous, or teasing way” (Verb). The origin of the word is “Middle English: from Old French fol ‘fool, foolish,’ from Latin follis ‘bellows, bag,’ by extension ‘empty-headed person’” This common definition tells us that a fool is a person who lacks wisdom.[3]

The word “fool” occurs in several forms (fools, foolish, etc.) in the Bible. The Hebrew word for fool is “nābāl” meaning “stupid; wicked (especially impious):- fool (-ish, -ish man, -ish woman), vile person” (2). The Greek word aphone is similar, but adds the idea of someone who is “mindless, egotistic, (practically) rash, or (moral) unbelieving and unwise.[4]

Concerning calling a brother a “fool” “In the Sermon on the Mount, of which this verse is a part, our Lord was attempting to show that He did not come to reduce the requirements of the Law, but to reinforce them so that they would be interpreted even more strictly than was common in Israel. Not only was it sinful to commit murder (5:21), but it was wrong to be angry with a brother (5:2f) because anger may lead to murder, just as lust may lead to immorality (5:27-30).24 To call a brother a fool is to declare him to be worthless. If a man is but a fool, a blight on society, it would be better for all if he were dead. To conclude that one is worthless, then, is to come to the conclusion that the world would best be rid of him, which is but one short step from murder. Our Lord did not condemn the assessment of a person’s character, but the assassination of one’s character.”[5]

According to this passage a fool:

  1. Is not deserving no honor
  2. Is deserving of discipline
  3. Speaks non-sense
  4. Is dangerous
  5. Has no use for wisdom
  6. Only regurgitates wisdom only when convenient
  7. Is predictable
  8. Is conceited

This is everything I don’t want to be. So, I present myself to God, make myself accountable to peers, confess my sins, and walk a new path!

Highlight #2 – Lazy People (Proverbs 26:13-16)

In our study of Proverbs, we have seen many references to laziness. It does not take special glasses or great academic achievements to understand these passages, just an open and honest heart. Are you a lazy person? Now ask you friend(s). Now ask your employer. The point is, don’t just take your word for it. We always think we’re much better than we are.

Jesus addresses this for believers concerning our time on this earth. In the parable about the ten minas (Luke 19:11-27) Jesus gave us instructions for our life here on the planet. Do stuff (good stuff) for the kingdom. We have said it like this, “Occupy, til he comes.”

The point here is that we cannot be lazy in life. We are tillers of the garden. What no garden now, then work in his Vineyard! Be contributing part of culture and society. Relate with other, be reconcilers. Live such a good life that folks will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Highlight #3 – People Who Lack Common Sense (Proverbs 26:17-28)

How is it that common sense seems to be “old fashioned?” Some of these proverbs are so spot on even without knowing the original context.

  1. Don’t meddle (v 17)
  2. Be fully aware and avoid using frivolity for deception (vv 18-19)
  3. Put the fire out! (vv 20-22)
  4. Be aware of deceit (don’t be the deceiver) (24-26)
  5. Danger ahead (v 27)
  6. A tongue so evil (v 28)

When we stop striving over trying to figure everything out on our own, (as if no one has ever gone down our path) and employ the common sense of these proverbs, life gets a whole lot easier. There are no worries. You’re confident that God’s ways work and they are designed to give you the best life possible.

Of course, you must practice, live in, activate or whatever word you’d like to use to describe being actively involved in kingdom living with the emphasis being upon obedience to the statutes, principles, moral code, and just general common sense of the Bible.

[1] Similes – a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid (e.g., as brave as a lion, crazy like a fox).
[2] William David Reyburn and Euan McG. Fry, A Handbook on Proverbs, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2000), 556–557.
[4] Ibid.


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