Proverbs 26:7

ESV Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
NIV Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
NASB Like useless legs to one who cannot walk, So is a proverb in the mouths of fools.
CSB A proverb in the mouth of a fool is like lame legs that hang limp.
NLT A proverb in the mouth of a fool is as useless as a paralyzed leg.
KJV The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

What does Proverbs 26:7 mean?

The person who cannot walk may have legs but they cannot make use of them. As with all "proverbs," this is a general statement intended to make a point. In this case, Solomon (Proverbs 25:1) makes a comparison to a fool—one lacking godly wisdom (Proverbs 1:7)—attempting to speak a proverb. Since the fool cannot understand godliness (Proverbs 8:5; 14:16), a proverb will "hang useless" in the mouth like the legs of a lame man. Merely "repeating" words of wisdom does not necessarily make a person wise or able to benefit from the wisdom.

The New Testament adds another layer of spiritual meaning to this idea. The non-believer is not equipped to grasp spiritual truth. Even if that truth is presented, and even if they repeat it, they cannot comprehend it unless they have the Holy Spirit. Paul explains: "The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18). He also notes that "the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). He reveals in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that the Devil "has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Only the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit can shed light into the heart and mind and persuade a person to believe on the Savior.
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