1 As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest,
So honor is not seemly for a fool. (These are as rare and as exceptional as honor to a fool.)
2 As the bird for wandering, as the swallow for flying,
So the curse causeless shall not come. (Illustrations: Baalam's [Neh. 13:2]; Goliath's [1 Sam. 17:43]; Shimei's [2 Sam. 16:5,12].)
3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass,
And a rod for the back of fools (= fat, and then dense, or stupid, which comes of it, showing itself in impiety).
4 Answer not a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him. (The point of v.3 is that you cannot reason with a fool: v. 4 gives the reason. If you answer not according to his folly, he will think he is wise like yourself. If you do answer him according to his folly, he will think you are a fool like he is: i.e. according to v.3 you cannot reason with him. These are finely stated facts, not commands.)
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
6 He that sends a message (or transacts business) by the hand of a fool
Cuts off the feet (i.e. his own feet = renders himself helpless), and drinks damage.
7 The clothes of the lame are lifted up: (I.e. the clothes being lifted up expose the lame leg. So a fool exposes his folly in expounding a parable.)
So is a parable in the mouth of fools.
8 As he that binds tight (a foolish thing to do) a stone in a sling,
So is he that gives honor to a fool.
9 As a thorn goes up into the hand of a drunkard, (I.e. insensible to a thorn.)
So is a parable in the mouths of fools.
10 A master [workman] forms all himself aright:
But he who hires a fool, hires a transgressor [who will spoil the work].
11 As a dog return to his vomit, (Quoted in 2 Pet. 2:22)
So a fool repeats in his folly. (Illustrations: Pharaoh [Ex. 9;27-34]; Ahab [1 King 21:27; 22:6-8]; Herod [Mark 6;20-27].)
12 See you a man wise in his own conceit?
There is more hope of a fool than of him.
13 The slothful man says, "There is a black lion in the way;
A lion is in the streets."
14 As the door turns upon his hinges,
So does the slothful upon his bed.
15 The slothful buries his hand in his dish; (As in 2 Kings 21:13. Prov. 19:34.)
It is too hard him (or, he is to lazy) 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 passes by, and vexes himself with strife belonging not to him,
Is like one that takes a dog by the ears.
18 As a mad man who casts firebrands,
Arrows, and death,
19 So is the man that deceives his neighbor,
And says, "Am not I in sport?"
20 Where no wood is, there the fire goes out:
So where there is no talebearer, the strife ceases.
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 self-inflicted wounds,
And they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
23 Burning lips (i.e. warm professions) and a wicked heart
Are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
24 He that hates dissembles with his lips,
And lays up deceit within him;
25 When he makes his voice gracious, believe him not:
For there are seven abominations in his heart.
26 Whose hatred is covered by deceit,
His wickedness shall be showed before the whole assembly.
27 Whoso digs a pit shall fall therein: (Illustrations: Jacob, who was deceived with a kid [Gen. 14], was deceived by a kid [Gen. 37:31,32]; David and the sword [2 Sam. 11:14,15, and 2 Sam. 12:10]; Haman and the gallows [Est. 7:10; see Ps. 9:15]; Daniel and his accusers [Dan. 6:4-9,13,24].)
And he that rolls a stone, it will return upon him.
28 A lying tongue hates those that are afflicted by it;
And a flattering mouth works ruin. (I.e. Forgiveness to the injured does belong; They ne'er pardon who have done wrong.)