Proverbs 26
Don’t Be a Fool
1It is totally out of place to promote and honor a fool,
just like it’s out of place to have snow in the summer
and rain at harvest time.
2An undeserved curse will be powerless to harm you.
It may flutter over you like a bird,
but it will find no place to land.
3Guide a horse with a whip,
direct a donkey with a bridle,
and lead a rebellious fool with a beating on his backside!
4Don’t respond to the words of a fool with more foolish words,
or you will become as foolish as he is!
5Instead, if you’re asked a silly question,
answer it with words of wisdom
so the fool doesn’t think he’s so clever.
6If you choose a fool to represent you,
you’re asking for trouble.
It will be as bad for you as cutting off your own feet!
7You can never trust the words of a fool,
just like a crippled man can’t trust his legs to support him.
8Give honor to a fool and watch it backfire—
like a stone tied to a slingshot.
9The statements of a fool will hurt others
like a thorn bush brandished by a drunk.
10Like a reckless archer shooting arrows at random
is the impatient employer
who hires just any fool who comes along—
someone’s going to get hurt!
11Fools are famous for repeating their errors,
like dogs are known to return to their vomit.
12There’s only one thing worse than a fool,
and that’s the smug, conceited man
always in love with his own opinions.
Don’t Be Lazy
13The lazy loafer says,
“I can’t go out and look for a job—
there may be a lion out there roaming wild in the streets!”
14As a door is hinged to the wall,
so the lazy man keeps turning over, hinged to his bed!
15There are some people so lazy
they won’t even work to feed themselves.
16A self-righteous person is convinced he’s smarter
than seven wise counselors who tell him the truth.
17It’s better to grab a mad dog by its ears
than to meddle and interfere in a quarrel
that’s none of your business.
Watch Your Words
18-19The one who is caught lying to his friend
and says, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,”
can be compared to a madman
randomly shooting off deadly weapons.
20It takes fuel to have a fire—
a fire dies down when you run out of fuel.
So quarrels disappear when the gossip ends.
21Add fuel to the fire and the blaze goes on.
So add an argumentative man to the mix
and you’ll keep strife alive.
22Gossip is so delicious, and how we love to swallow it!
For slander is easily absorbed into our innermost being.
23Smooth talk can hide a corrupt heart
just like a pretty glaze covers a cheap clay pot.
24Kind words can be a cover to conceal hatred of others,
for hypocrisy loves to hide behind flattery.
25So don’t be drawn in by the hypocrite,
for his gracious speech is a charade,
nothing but a masquerade covering his hatred and evil on parade.
26Don’t worry—he can’t keep the mask on for long.
One day his hypocrisy will be exposed before all the world.
27Go ahead, set a trap for others—
and then watch as it snaps back on you!
Start a landslide and you’ll be the one who gets crushed.
28Hatred is the root of slander
and insecurity the root of flattery.

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