Proverbs 26:21
As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Coals - Charcoal. 20, 21. The talebearers foster (Pr 16:28), and the contentious excite, strife. Heb. A man of contentions, that loveth and giveth him self up to contentions. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire,.... As brands, wood half burnt, or dead coals put to live and burning ones, soon take fire and become like them, and fit and proper fuel for them, and add to their heat:

so is a contentious man to kindle strife; or "a man of contentions" (k); who is given to it, is full of it; it is agreeable to his natural temper and disposition; he is in his element when at it; such a man is as fuel to the fire, as a dead coal to a living one, which increases the heat of it; so does he, he kindles and spreads the flame of contention and strife.

(k) "vir contentionum", Montanus, Baynus, Piscator, Gejerus.

As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. kindle] Better, inflame, R.V.Verse 21. - As coals are to burning coals. As black, cold charcoal feeds glowing charcoal, as wood feeds a lighted fire, so a quarrelsome man (Proverbs 21:9; Proverbs 27:15) supports and nourishes strife. The verse is the counterpart of the preceding. Septuagint, "A hearth for coal and logs for fire, and a reviling man for tumult of strife." 15 The slothful has thrust his hand into the dish,

     It is hard for him to bring it back to his mouth again.

A variation of Proverbs 19:24; the fut. ישׁיבנּה there, is here explained by נלאה להשׁיבהּ.

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