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Proverbs chapter 26

New International Version

1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool. 2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest. 3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools! 4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. 6 Sending a message by the hands of a fool is like cutting off one's feet or drinking poison. 7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. 8 Like tying a stone in a sling is the giving of honor to a fool. 9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard's hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. 10 Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires a fool or any passer-by. 11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.
12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them. 13 A sluggard says, 'There's a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!' 14 As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed. 15 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
16 A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven people who answer discreetly.
17 Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own. 18 Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death
19 is one who deceives their neighbor and says, 'I was only joking!' 20 Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. 21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts. 23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. 24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. 25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. 26 Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. 28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
English Standard Version

1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool. 2 Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. 3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. 4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. 6 Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. 7 Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools. 8 Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool. 9 Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools. 10 Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard. 11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. 12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. 13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed. 15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly. 17 Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears. 18 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death 19 is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” 20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. 21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. 22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. 23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart. 24 Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; 25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; 26 though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. 28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
King James Version

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.
New American Standard Bible

1 Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, So honor is not fitting for a fool. 2 Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, So a curse without cause does not come to rest. 3 A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, And a rod for the back of fools. 4 Do not answer a fool according to his foolishness, Or you will also be like him. 5 Answer a fool as his foolishness deserves, So that he will not be wise in his own eyes. 6 One who sends a message by the hand of a fool Chops off his own feet and drinks violence. 7 Like useless legs to one who cannot walk, So is a proverb in the mouths of fools. 8 Like one who binds a stone in a sling, So is one who gives honor to a fool. 9 Like a thorn that sticks in the hand of a heavy drinker, So is a proverb in the mouths of fools. 10 Like an archer who wounds everyone, So is one who hires a fool or hires those who pass by. 11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit, So is a fool who repeats his foolishness. 12 Do you see a person wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. 13 A lazy one says, 'There is a lion on the road! A lion is in the public square!' 14 As the door turns on its hinges, So does a lazy one on his bed. 15 A lazy one buries his hand in the dish; He is weary of bringing it to his mouth again. 16 A lazy one is wiser in his own eyes Than seven people who can give a discreet answer. 17 Like one who takes a dog by the ears, So is one who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him. 18 Like a maniac who shoots Flaming arrows, arrows, and death, 19 So is a person who deceives his neighbor, And says, 'Was I not joking?' 20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no gossiper, quarreling quiets down. 21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious person to kindle strife. 22 The words of a gossiper are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body. 23 Like an earthenware vessel overlaid with silver impurities Are burning lips and a wicked heart. 24 One who hates disguises it with his lips, But he harbors deceit in his heart. 25 When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, Because there are seven abominations in his heart. 26 Though his hatred covers itself with deception, His wickedness will be revealed in the assembly. 27 One who digs a pit will fall into it, And one who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. 28 A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin.
New Living Translation

1 Honor is no more associated with fools than snow with summer or rain with harvest.
2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.
3 Guide a horse with a whip, a donkey with a bridle, and a fool with a rod to his back!
4 Don't answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.
5 Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.
6 Trusting a fool to convey a message is like cutting off one's feet or drinking poison!
7 A proverb in the mouth of a fool is as useless as a paralyzed leg.
8 Honoring a fool is as foolish as tying a stone to a slingshot.
9 A proverb in the mouth of a fool is like a thorny branch brandished by a drunk.
10 An employer who hires a fool or a bystander is like an archer who shoots at random.
11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.
12 There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise.
13 The lazy person claims, 'There's a lion on the road! Yes, I'm sure there's a lion out there!'
14 As a door swings back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed.
15 Lazy people take food in their hand but don't even lift it to their mouth.
16 Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors.
17 Interfering in someone else's argument is as foolish as yanking a dog's ears.
18 Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon 19 is someone who lies to a friend and then says, 'I was only joking.'
20 Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.
21 A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.
22 Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one's heart.
23 Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot.
24 People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they're deceiving you. 25 They pretend to be kind, but don't believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils. 26 While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, their wrongdoing will be exposed in public.
27 If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will crush you instead.
28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Like snow in summer and rain at harvest, honor is inappropriate for a fool. 2 Like a flitting sparrow or a fluttering swallow, an undeserved curse goes nowhere. 3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools. 4 Don't answer a fool according to his foolishness or you'll be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his foolishness or he'll become wise in his own eyes. 6 The one who sends a message by a fool's hand cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. 7 A proverb in the mouth of a fool is like lame legs that hang limp. 8 Giving honor to a fool is like binding a stone in a sling. 9 A proverb in the mouth of a fool is like a stick with thorns, brandished by the hand of a drunkard. 10 The one who hires a fool or who hires those passing by is like an archer who wounds everyone indiscriminately. 11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so also a fool repeats his foolishness.
12 Do you see a person who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. 13 The slacker says, "There's a lion in the road -- a lion in the public square! " 14 A door turns on its hinges, and a slacker, on his bed. 15 The slacker buries his hand in the bowl; he is too weary to bring it to his mouth!
16 In his own eyes, a slacker is wiser than seven who can answer sensibly. 17 A person who is passing by and meddles in a quarrel that's not his is like one who grabs a dog by the ears. 18 Like a madman who throws flaming darts and deadly arrows,
19 so is the person who deceives his neighbor and says, "I was only joking! " 20 Without wood, fire goes out; without a gossip, conflict dies down. 21 As charcoal for embers and wood for fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 A gossip's words are like choice food that goes down to one's innermost being. 23 Smooth lips with an evil heart are like glaze on an earthen vessel. 24 A hateful person disguises himself with his speech and harbors deceit within. 25 When he speaks graciously, don't believe him, for there are seven detestable things in his heart. 26 Though his hatred is concealed by deception, his evil will be revealed in the assembly. 27 The one who digs a pit will fall into it, and whoever rolls a stone -- it will come back on him. 28 A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth causes ruin.

What does Proverbs chapter 26 mean?

This chapter begins with a series of blunt criticisms of a "fool." In the book of Proverbs, this means one who has rejected God's wisdom, common sense, and truth (Proverbs 1:7). The term "fool" appears in all but one of the first twelve verses. These lessons warn against giving such persons authority or power, notes their resistance to correction, and points out the difference between "repeating" wisdom and "using" it appropriately. Just because someone can recite wise sayings does not mean they know how to apply wisdom. Two verses in this section suggest opposite responses to foolishness, depending on the situation (Proverbs 26:1–12).

Next is a section of proverbs referring to laziness. This uses the term "sluggard," meaning a person lacking energy, or carelessly lazy. An exaggerated criticism pictures the person as so lazy they can't even bring food to their mouth. These proverbs note that people will often make outrageous excuses for their lack of effort. That includes ignoring reason to justify why they are not meeting their obligations. This is not only lazy, but it's also a form of arrogance (Proverbs 26:13–16).

The final segment of the chapter gives godly advice about conflict. Getting involved in someone else's dispute is like grabbing a stray dog by the ears: risky and not to be done without an extremely good reason. False accusations cause damage, so claiming "I didn't mean it" afterwards doesn't undo the harm. Gossip and slander are tempting, but they fuel conflict as much as wood does a fire. How and when a person chooses to speak has a major impact on how an argument will affect them. Solomon also advises caution about those who disguise evil intent with attractive words.