Proverbs 25:26

ESV Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
NIV Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.
NASB Like a trampled spring and a polluted well, So is a righteous person who gives way before the wicked.
CSB A righteous person who yields to the wicked is like a muddied spring or a polluted well.
NLT If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.
KJV A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.

What does Proverbs 25:26 mean?

A drink of pure water from a spring or fountain is refreshing. Waters clogged with stirred-up dirt would disappoint someone who came there looking to end their thirst. The spring, itself, is a good thing. It was good in the past, and it will presumably be good in the future. In the moment it's full of mud or pollution, the water source is not good. Solomon (Proverbs 25:1) compares this to an otherwise-godly person who shrinks in the face of evil. In that moment, the righteous person fails to meet expectations. It's disappointing and unfortunate.

A sinning believer muddies his testimony and disappoints anyone who looks to him for an example of righteousness. It is sad that a believer falls into sin before the eyes of the wicked. When Simeon and Levi took revenge on Shechem, the prince of the land (Genesis 34:1–3, 13–29), for his defilement of their sister Dinah, their father Jacob told them, "You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites" (Genesis 34:30). In modern times, the fall of a few well-known pastors and evangelists into the sin of adultery has sullied their testimony in the eyes of countless thousands of unbelievers and damaged the church's credibility.
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