The Word Made Fresh
1Honor is not fitting for a fool,
no more than snow in summer or rains at harvest.
2Like a sparrow as it flits about, or a swallow as it swoops,
a curse underserved means nothing.
3A horse needs a whip; a donkey needs a bridle;
and fools need a rod for their backs.
4Don’t join in the folly of fools
or you will be a fool yourself.
5But you must answer the foolishness of fools,
or they will continue to think they are wise.
6Sending an important message by a fool
is like cutting off your own leg and drinking your own blood.
7A lame person’s legs hang limp;
so does a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
8Honoring a fool is like fixing a stone in a sling.
9A proverb in a fool’s mouth
is like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand.
10Giving weapons to a passing fool
is like arming an archer who shoots at everybody.
11A fool returning to his or her foolishness
is like a dog returning to its vomit.
12Do you know someone who is wise in his or her own eyes?
Fools have more to hope for than them.
13The lazy man or woman sits and cries that “There’s a lion in the road!
There’s a lion in the street!”
14The lazy person turns in bed
like a door on its hinges.
15Lazy people put a hand in the dish,
then forget to bring it to the mouth.
16The lazy person is wiser in his or her own eyes
than seven who can answer with discernment.
17Meddling in someone else’s argument
is like taking a passing dog by the ears.
18Like a maniac who carelessly shoots deadly arrows
19is the one who cheats a neighbor and says, “I’m just joking!”
20A fire dies out when the wood is gone;
and where there are no whisperers, arguments die out, too.
21As charcoal heats embers and wood catches the flame,
such is the effect of a quarrelsome person on an argument.
22Whispered words are like delightful morsels
that go down into one’s inner being.
23Like silver that covers a clay pot
are smooth lips with a wicked heart.
24What an enemy says is always false
as long as they harbor deceit within.
25An enemy’s speech may be charming, but don’t fall for it.
There are at least seven lies hiding there.
26Though hatred may be cunningly concealed,
the enemy’s true colors will be exposed in the assembly.
27If you dig a pit you may be the one to fall into it.
Start a stone rolling and it may simply return to you.
28A lying tongue hates its victim;
a mouth that flatters only intends hurt.
1-12: These verses are all about fools and the frustrations that arise from associating with them.
13-16: More sayings about lazybones.
17-28: The chapter ends with a group of proverbs having to do with relationships, the conflicts that arise within them, and advice about how to avoid quarreling.
Meddling, practical jokes, gossiping, quarrelsomeness, smooth talk, dissembling, and lying all contribute to the quarrels that destroy relationships and bring unnecessary suffering to innocent victims.