Thoughts from a Foolish Chapter: Proverbs 26
“Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference “ –Mark Twain*
Wisdom from Proverbs on Fools . . .
On the surface it appears contradictory. One Proverb says to ignore fools and their foolish words. The following advises a retort.
Proverbs 26:4-5 NASB
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Or you will also be like him.
5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
That he not be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:4-5 KJV
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.
I’ll be asking my two preacher sons (and all of you) to help me with the Hebrew on these verses. Is there a difference on the use of ‘fool?’
Here’s my Dry Creek thinking on this: There are two kinds of ‘fools’ Foolish Fools and Ignorant Fools.
Verse 4 refers to Foolish Fools. No matter of talking will convince them. (Don’t confuse me with the facts.) If God wrote the answer in the sky, they’d say He spelled it wrong.
Leave them alone. Don’t waste your breath.
Verse 5 refers to Ignorant Fools. (I’ve been this numerous times in my life.) They just don’t know any better and open their mouths.
I recall an instance as a teenager. The Iles family was having a wonderful evening meal. I commented, “They really shafted him.”
My dad laid his fork down, “Now Curt, I don’t believe I’d use that. The way I hear it used at work is not really good.”
Daddy never said another word. I was embarrassed as all get-out but got his point. He had educated an Ignorant Fool. I didn’t think of the implications of the full saying.
I’ve said lots of ignorant things since that day about forty years ago but I learned from the man I so admired. I don’t use that statement. You may and I’m not judging. I’m just sharing from my experience.
That’s what verse 5 is about. We fools can learn from the wisdom of others.
There are times to ignore foolish words.
There are other times a wise rebuttal can help.
Lord, give us wisdom to know the difference.
Excellent thoughts on these two verses from a blog by Micheal Yates:
*Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference” is normally attributed to Twain but variations abound.
My favorite: “Never argue with a pig. It’ll frustrate you and annoy the pig.”
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