1. The incongruities of nature illustrate also those of the moral world. The fool's unworthiness is also implied (Pr 17:7; 19:10).
2. Though not obvious to us,
the bird--literally, "sparrow"--and
swallow--have an object in their motions, so penal evil falls on none without a reason.
3. The rod is as much needed by fools and as well suited to them, as whips and bridles are for beasts.
4, 5. Answer not--that is, approvingly by like folly.
5. Answer--by reproof.
6. A fool fails by folly as surely as if he were maimed.
drinketh damage--that is, gets it abundantly (Job 15:16; 34:7).
7. legs . . . equal--or, "take away the legs," or "the legs . . . are weak." In any case the idea is that they are the occasion of an awkwardness, such as the fool shows in using a parable or proverb (see Introduction; Pr 17:7).
8. A stone, bound in a sling, is useless; so honor, conferred on a fool, is thrown away.
9. As vexatious and unmanageable as a thorn in a drunkard's hand is a parable to a fool. He will be as apt to misuse is as to use it rightly.
10. Various versions of this are proposed (compare
Margin). Better perhaps--"Much He injures (or literally,
"wounds") all who reward," &c., that is, society is injured by
encouraging evil men.
transgressors--may be rendered "vagrants." The word "God" is improperly supplied.
11. returneth . . . folly--Though disgusting to others, the fool delights in his folly.
12. The self-conceited are taught with more difficulty than the stupid.
13. (Compare Pr 22:13).
14. (Compare Pr 6:10; 24:33).
15. (Compare Pr 19:24).
16. The thoughtless being ignorant of their ignorance are conceited.
17. meddleth--as in Pr 20:19; 24:21; as either holding a dog by the ears or letting him go involves danger, so success in another man's strife or failure involves a useless risk of reputation, does no good, and may do us harm.
18, 19. Such are reckless of results.
20, 21. The talebearers foster (Pr 16:28), and the contentious excite, strife.
22. (Compare Pr 18:8).
23. Warm professions can no more give value to insincerity than silver coating to rude earthenware.
24. dissembleth--though an unusual sense of the word (compare Margin), is allowable, and better suits the context, which sets forth hypocrisy.
26, 27. Deceit will at last be exposed, and the wicked by their own arts often bring on retribution (compare Pr 12:13; Ps 7:16; 9:17, &c.).
28. Men hate those they injure.
A lying tongue--"lips" for the persons (compare Pr 4:24; Ps 12:3).