One proverb reads, “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools,” but then the very next line states, “Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools.” Anyone else confused? Take a closer look around the verses, and we notice the difference. The moments when we’re tempted to stoop to their level? Stay silent. But if we can respond with gentleness, respect, and a clear conscience? Speak up.
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.
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