As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
2 As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.
3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.
4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
6 He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.
7 The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
8 As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.
9 As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouths of fools.
10 The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.
11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
13 The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.
14 As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.
15 The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.
16 The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.
17 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
18 As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,
19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?
20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
22 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
23 Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
24 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;
25 When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
26 Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.
27 Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.
28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
“Answer a fool” or ”Don’t answer a fool” (vs. 4, 5). Which is it?“Don’t answer a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him”…sometimes.Other times, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”
God gave us minds to figure out which verse applies to what circumstance.We learn by practice and by growing a wise heart.Even then we aren’t totally dependent on our own resources.
If in the morning we recognize our need of strength and wisdom from God, and ask for help, then throughout the day our own guardian angel will be by our side to influence our actions and choose our words for us when we are in danger of causing unnecessary pain, exerting a wrong influence, or misrepresenting God.(See Messages to Young People, p. 90).
It’s easy to be entertained by Jesus’ verbal scraps with the religious leaders of His day.Yet He “did not suppress one word of truth, but He spoke it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact, and…never needlessly spoke a severe word.” “Tears were in His voice when He uttered His scathing rebukes.” Desire of Ages, p. 352.
When we love fools as Jesus loved them, then we are prepared to “Answer a fool according to his folly.”
Virginia Davidson, Artist—designing and building stained glass windows
Spokane Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, Washington State, USA