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26 Like snow in the summer and rain in the time of harvest,
    so honor is never fitting for a fool.
Like a bird that flits and flutters or a swallow in mid-flight,
    so a curse that lacks cause will never come to light.
A whip is for the horse, a bridle is for the donkey,
    and a rod is for the fool’s back.

Never answer a fool on his own foolish terms,
    or you will become like him;
Rather, answer a fool on his own foolish terms,
    or he will become wise in his own eyes.

Like someone who cuts off his feet or drinks to his ruin,
    so is the one who uses a fool to pass on his message.
As lame legs are useless, dangling on the crippled,
    so is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
Like one who ties a stone in his slingshot,
    so is one who honors a fool.
Like a thorn in the hand of a drunkard,
    so is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who shoots at random and injures everyone,
    so is a person who hires a fool or someone off the street.[a]
11 Like a dog who goes back to his own vomit,[b]
    so is a fool who always returns to his foolishness.

12 Have you seen a person who is wise in his own sight?
    Know that there is more hope for a fool than for him.

13 A lazy person says, “There’s a lion in the road!
    A lion in the streets!
    Another good reason to stay in today.
14 As a door swings on its hinges and goes nowhere,
    so a slacker turns over in his bed.
15 Some people are so lazy that they reach for food on the plate
    but lack the will to bring it up to their mouths.
16 The slacker sees himself as wiser by far
    than seven men who can converse intelligently.

17 Like a man who seizes a wild dog by the ears,
    so is anyone who walks by and meddles in someone else’s argument.
18 Like a madman who hurls flaming spears and shoots deadly arrows,
19 So is anyone who deceives a neighbor
    and then says, “But I was only joking with you.”

20 When there is no wood, the fire goes out;
    when there is no one to spread gossip, arguing stops.
21 Like charcoal to smoldering embers and dry wood to a fire,
    so a hot-tempered man kindles strife.
22 Whispered gossip is like a delicious first course:
    it is devoured with pleasure and then penetrates deep within you.

23 Like a shiny glaze[c] coating a rough clay pot,
    so are burning lips that conceal an evil heart.
24 One who hates may camouflage it beneath pleasant words,
    but deep inside him, treachery still rages;
25 Don’t believe him when he speaks kindly
    because his heart is completely ruled by evil.[d]

26 And though he covers his hatred with cleverness,
    his wicked ways will be publicly exposed.
27 The one who digs a trap for another will fall into it,
    and the one who starts rolling a stone will have it roll back over him.
28 Liars take no pity on those they crush with their lies,
    and flattery spoils everyone it touches.


  1. 26:10 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  2. 26:11 2 Peter 2:22
  3. 26:23 Literally, “silver dross”
  4. 26:25 Literally, “seven detestable evils”

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