I take up the same theme for Proverbs 26 that I employed in January–“Things that are and ought not be.” The first 12 verses of chapter 26 address the way and folly of a fool, a study I will continue today. We have noted that “…honour [glory; wealth] is not seemly [becoming] for a fool” (Proverbs 26:1). To praise a foolish person is folly indeed! It is also unwise to fear the unwarranted vilification of a fool.
Proverbs 26:2 – “As the bird [sparrow] by wandering [flight], as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless [vilification without cause] shall not come.”
Remember, the way of a fool is contrary to and in denial of his Creator. He is a fool because he has “said in his heart, There is NO God…” (Psalm 14:1). The words of a fool spew forth the poison of disdain for God and the innocent. However, though the curses of a fool are caustic, they are as futile as a bird in flight that has no direction. An innocent man need not fear the curses of a fool whose words are without cause. Woe to the man who gives cause for a fool to curse and vilify him, for a fool will not rest until he has destroyed that man.
The discipline of the fool is the subject of Proverbs 26:3.
Proverbs 26:3 – “A whip for the horse, a bridle [bit] for the ass, and a rod [stick used for punishment] for the fool’s back [insolent, one who has rejected God].”
Clustered with tools employed in training and directing dumb draft animals is the tool the Bible states is for the discipline of fools. The whip spirits the horse on its way, the bit directs the donkey and the rod is the tool of correction for fools.
Proverbs 26:3 is not suggesting physical abuse, but is offering a lesson in the natural insolence of a fool. The consistent employment of a disciplinary tool teaches the foolish that pain and suffering are the natural consequence of sin. It is the neglect of corporal discipline that has fostered generations of youth who are a menace to society and as adults fill our prison system to overflowing.
Truth – A fool does not hear or heed instruction apart from corporal discipline. Allow me to close with two proverbs that speak to my point:
Proverbs 15:5 – “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction…”
Proverbs 23:9 – “Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.”