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2. Fools and folly ch. 26
The analogies in chapter 25 dealt with both wise and foolish conduct, but those in chapter 26 deal mainly with fools and folly.
If someone curses another person who does not deserve it, the curse will not be effective (cf. Numbers 23:8). It will not attach itself to the person cursed, so to speak.
"It was commonly believed that blessings and curses had objective existence-that once uttered, the word was effectual. Scriptures make it clear that the power of a blessing or a curse depends on the power of the one behind it (e.g., Balaam could not curse what God had blessed; cf. Numbers 22:38; Numbers 23:8). This proverb underscores the correction of superstition. The Word of the Lord is powerful because it is the word of the Lord-he will fulfill it." [Note: Ross, p. 1087.]
These pieces of advice do not contradict each other because each is wise in its own way. Proverbs 26:4 means that in replying to a fool one should not descend to his level by giving him a foolish response (e.g., 2 Kings 18:36). Proverbs 26:5 means that one should correct a fool so he will not conclude that he is right (e.g., Nehemiah 6:8; Job 2:9-10). Some of a fool’s comments do not deserve a reply (Proverbs 26:4), but others require one (Proverbs 26:5). In unimportant matters one should ignore the foolish comment, but in important matters one needs to respond lest others conclude that the fool is correct. [Note: Plaut, p. 266. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:16-17; 12:11.]
"In other words, it depends on the fool, and the truly wise person will be so sensitive to human nature that he will know when to apply the one and not the other." [Note: Longman and Dillard, p. 276.]
By giving honor to a fool one arms him to do damage. This can happen, for example, by promoting him to a position of greater responsibility. The figure of binding a stone in a sling seems to suggest that the person doing the binding did not know how to operate a sling. People did not bind stones in slings but simply laid them in the sling so when the sling was slung the stone would fly out. Similarly one who expects a fool to accomplish something honorable does not know how things work. [Note: Whybray, The Book . . ., p. 152.]
A wise man does not repeat his folly, but a fool does. Similarly a dog returns to eat its vomit, but a man does not. A fool behaves like a dog rather than like a man when he repeats his folly (cf. 2 Peter 2:22).
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 26". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25