There are three major characters in Proverbs 26: the fool (vv. 1-12), the sluggard (vv. 13-16), and the troublemaker (vv. 17-28).
The fool (vv. 1-12) is the person out of touch with reality. He does not recognise his own need, and wants no one’s advice, for he thinks he knows it all (v. 12). He is proud and has an inflated view of himself. We are told not to honour a fool (vv. 1, 8), reason with him (vv. 4, 5), trust him (vv. 6, 10), listen to him (vv. 7, 9), or rely on him (v. 10). Like a horse and a donkey, a fool can only be guided by brute force (v. 3). Don’t be unteachable like the fool!
The sluggard (vv. 13-16) has made his bed his home, and gives the excuse that it’s too dangerous to leave the house (v. 13). Anchored to his bed, he tosses in it and doesn’t get up, like a door secured to its hinge (v. 14)-he and his bed are inseparable. Like the fool, the sluggard is also self-deluded and thinks he has no need for wise advice (v. 16). He is not only lazy, but also proud.
The troublemaker (vv. 17-28) may be charming (v. 25), but he is deceptive (v. 24) and cannot keep himself from meddling in matters which have nothing to do with him (v. 17). His mouth is his big problem: he gossips (v. 20), starts quarrels (v. 21), professes love while concealing hatred and malice (vv. 23-26), and lies (v. 28).
A person’s words can reveal the condition of his heart. But the words of a troublemaker are deceptive, and conceal what lies beneath (v. 23). Though the gossips he tells are choice morsels and go down well (v. 22), they are deadly arrows that kill (v. 18).
These three characters in Proverbs 26 are a stark contrast to the wise person whom we’ve read about over the past days. Such a person knows himself and his own limitations; he seeks righteousness, lives humbly, fulfils his responsibilities, works diligently, ensures that his words work for peace, and listens to wise advice.
Reflect on what the fool, the sluggard, and the troublemaker do or don’t do. Do any of their characteristics, attitudes, or actions apply to you? Ask God for the humility and strength to be honest with yourself-and with Him.
What can you do to avoid these mistakes?