Proverbs 26:11
As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) So a fool returneth to his folly.—Though he knows it to be folly, and ruinous to him: but vice has become to him a second nature, and he cannot, even if he would, escape from it. This is especially true of those who have given way to drink or impurity of life.

26:2. He that is cursed without cause, the curse shall do him no more harm than the bird that flies over his head. 3. Every creature must be dealt with according to its nature, but careless and profligate sinners never will be ruled by reason and persuasion. Man indeed is born like the wild ass's colt; but some, by the grace of God, are changed. 4,5. We are to fit our remarks to the man, and address them to his conscience, so as may best end the debate. 6-9. Fools are not fit to be trusted, nor to have any honour. Wise sayings, as a foolish man delivers and applies them, lose their usefulness. 10. This verse may either declare how the Lord, the Creator of all men, will deal with sinners according to their guilt, or, how the powerful among men should disgrace and punish the wicked. 11. The dog is a loathsome emblem of those sinners who return to their vices, 2Pe 2:22. 12. We see many a one who has some little sense, but is proud of it. This describes those who think their spiritual state to be good, when really it is very bad. 13. The slothful man hates every thing that requires care and labour. But it is foolish to frighten ourselves from real duties by fancied difficulties. This may be applied to a man slothful in the duties of religion. 14. Having seen the slothful man in fear of his work, here we find him in love with his ease. Bodily ease is the sad occasion of many spiritual diseases. He does not care to get forward with his business. Slothful professors turn thus. The world and the flesh are hinges on which they are hung; and though they move in a course of outward services, yet they are not the nearer to heaven. 15. The sluggard is now out of his bed, but he might have lain there, for any thing he is likely to bring to pass in his work. It is common for men who will not do their duty, to pretend they cannot. Those that are slothful in religion, will not be at the pains to feed their souls with the bread of life, nor to fetch in promised blessings by prayer. 16. He that takes pains in religion, knows he is working for a good Master, and that his labour shall not be in vain. 17. To make ourselves busy in other men's matters, is to thrust ourselves into temptation. 18,19. He that sins in jest, must repent in earnest, or his sin will be his ruin. 20-22. Contention heats the spirit, and puts families and societies into a flame. And that fire is commonly kindled and kept burning by whisperers and backbiters. 23. A wicked heart disguising itself, is like a potsherd covered with the dross of silver.The word "God" is not in the original, and the adjective translated "great" is never used elsewhere absolutely in that sense. The simplest and best interpretation is: As the archer that woundeth everyone, so is he who hireth the fool, and he who hireth every passerby. Acting at random, entrusting matters of grave moment to men of bad repute, is as likely to do mischief as to shoot arrows at everyone. 11. returneth … folly—Though disgusting to others, the fool delights in his folly. As a dog returneth to his vomit, to lick up that which he had lately vomited, forgetting how burdensome and vexatious it was to him,

so a fool returneth to his folly; such like is the impudence and madness of sinners, who having smarted for their sins, and been forced to forsake them far a time, do afterwards return to the commission of them. As a dog returneth to his vomit,.... Who being sick with what he has eaten, casts it up again, and afterwards returns unto it and licks it up;

so a fool returneth to his folly, or "repeats" (a) it, time after time, many times, as Ben Melech; or a wicked man turns to his wickedness, who, having had some qualms upon his conscience for sin, for a while forsakes it; but that fit being over, and he forgetting all his former horror and uneasiness, returns to his old course of life: a wicked man is here compared to a dog, as he is elsewhere for his impudence and voraciousness in sinning; and the filthiness of sin is expressed by the vomit of a dog, than which nothing is more nauseous and loathsome; and the apostasy of the sinner, from an external course of righteousness into open profaneness is signified by the return of this creature to it. This is said to be a "true proverb", 2 Peter 2:22, where it is quoted and applied.

(a) "qui iterat", Tigurine version, Michaelis; "iterans", Montanus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus; "duplicans", Schultens.

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. So a fool returneth to] Rather, So is a fool that repeateth, R.V.; iterat, Vulg. The Heb. word is not the same as in the first clause of the verse. Comp. on the proverb 2 Peter 2:22.

Proverbs 26:13-16. Another small group of four proverbs, of which the “sluggard” is the subject.Verse 11. - As the dog returneth to his vomit (see 2 Peter 2:22, which, however, is not quoted from the Septuagint), so a fool returneth to his folly; or, repeateth his folly. The fool never frees himself from the trammels of his foolishness; his deeds and words always bear the same character to the end. The same truth holds good of the sinner, especially the drunkard and the sensualist. If they feel temporary compunction, and reject their sin by partial repentance, they do not really shake it off wholly; it has become a second nature to them, and they soon relapse into it. Septuagint, "As when a dog goes to his own vomit and becomes hateful, so is a fool who returns in his wickedness to his own sin." The LXX. adds a distich which is found in Ecclus. 4:21, "There is a shame that bringeth sin, and there is a shame that is glory and grace." 5 Answer the fool according to his folly,

   Lest he regard himself as wise.

ענה־כסיל (with Makkeph, and Gaja, and Chatef)

(Note: Thus after Ben Asher; while, on the contrary, Ben Naphtali writes ענה כסיל with Munach, vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 41.)

here stands opposed to אל־תען כסיל. The Gospel of John, e.g., John 5:31, cf. Proverbs 8:31,

(Note: Vid., my dissertation on three little-observed passages in the Gospel of John, and their practical lessons, in the Evang. luth. Kirchenzeitung, 1869, Nos. 37, 38.)

is rich in such apparently contradictory sayings. The sic et non here lying before us is easily explained; after, or according to his folly, is this second time equivalent to, as is due to his folly: decidedly and firmly rejecting it, making short work with it (returning a sharp answer), and promptly replying in a way fitted, if possible, to make him ashamed. Thus one helps him, perhaps, to self-knowledge; while, in the contrary case, one gives assistance to his self-importance. The Talmud, Schabbath 30b, solves the contradiction by referring Proverbs 26:4 to worldly things, and Proverbs 26:5 to religious things; and it is true that, especially in the latter case, the answer is itself a duty toward the fool, and towards the truth. Otherwise the Midrash: one ought not to answer when one knows the fool as such, and to answer when he does not so know him; for in the first instance the wise man would dishonour himself by the answer, in the latter case he would give to him who asks the importance appertaining to a superior.

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