Proverbs 26

Principal lesson (v. 20-25): God gives us two ears and two eyes, but only one tongue.
We should therefore see and hear more than we speak, for we cannot recover our words.

1 As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

2 As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.

4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

6 He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.

7 The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

8 As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

9 As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

10 The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.

11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

13 The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.

14 As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.

15 The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.

16 The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

17 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

18 As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,

19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?

20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

22 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

23 Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.

24 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;

25 When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.

26 Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.

27 Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.

Proverbs 26:2
“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.”

Photo: Several chimney swifts inside a chimney in Perryville, Missouri. Courtesy of Greg Schechter. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The small bird, known as the chimney swift, is unmatched in its flying ability. These little birds are so adapted to the air that they have only small, weak feet that do not permit them to walk or perch like other birds. In fact, their Latin name even means “without feet.” When swifts do come to rest, they do so against a vertical surface like a wall. They are often found resting inside the protection of chimneys, which led to their English name, chimney swift. A large flock of swifts may sight a chimney and begin circling it in smaller and smaller circles. Finally, the birds closest to the chimney enter it, followed by the rest. One person reported seeing a flock of 10,000 swifts enter one chimney over a period of 37 minutes!

When David was cursed by Shimei, he realized that the curse would be of no effect because he was innocent of murdering members of Saul’s family. In Proverbs 26:2, his son, Solomon, compares unjust curses to a bird which never lands, meaning that when people speak evil of us, or curse us, if what they say is untrue or unjust, their words will have no effect. It is God’s wisdom to think of unjust things that are said about us as being like the swift, always in flight and never landing upon us.

Notes: Tom Malone, “Swifts are masters of the air but nearly helpless on ground,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sunday/June 4/1989/3E.

Creation Moments, Inc., P.O. Box 839, Foley, MN 56329

Proverbs 26:20—Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out.

​   How simple a parable! Of course it must be so. As soon as a fire has reached the end of the material on which it fed, it expires.
   This is true of the fire of slander. As long as there is an ear to receive, and a tongue to pass on, some piece of malicious slander will continue to circulate. But directly it reaches a hearer who will not whisper it forward, in that direction at least its progress is arrested. Why do you not adopt this role, and urge others to do so? Hear if you must the whisper of the slanderer; but let it stop with you, locked in the secret of your own breast. You may be voted rather uninteresting and stupid by a certain society which thrives in whispered calumnies; but you will save many a heart from being torn and lacerated by unkindness and falsehood.
   How graphic that word “whisperer” is! People always tell you to be sure not to tell; it is a way they have, though they do not expect you for a moment to keep the story to yourself. It is the kiss under which they betray. Always tell them that you refuse to be an accomplice in evil. If there is a wrong concerning which you must neither take action nor speak, you had better not defile your ears with it.
   This is true of the fire of the Holy Ghost. You must feed it by your loving obedience, your study of the Word of God, your faith and prayer. Yield yourself more entirely to his possession. Let your spirit, soul, and body, your every act and desire, be as fuel to the Spirit of God. Pile up the wood of continual sacrifice and self-surrender, till the Divine fire reaches out its hands toward heaven. Even though the wood, like Elijah’s, be drenched with water, God’s fire will conquer! —Our Daily Homily