Proverbs 26:6
He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Cutteth off the feet.—He wants his business done, but if he sends a fool to do it, he might as well cut off his messenger’s legs, for the business will not be transacted; nay, worse than this, he will “drink damage,” i.e., suffer positive mischief from the blundering of his emissary.

Proverbs 26:6. He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool — He that employs a fool upon any important business, which is too hard for him; cutteth off the feet — Namely, of his messenger: he bids one go that wants legs; he sends one that wants discretion, which is as necessary for that employment as legs are for running or walking; and drinketh damage — Brings upon himself abundance of loss and mischief, not only spoiling the business about which he sends him, but making himself contemptible to the person to whom he sends him, and to others with him, as if he had not common prudence to choose a fit messenger, and giving occasion, by the folly of his messenger, to further misunderstandings, jealousies, and inconveniences. Drinking, it must be observed, in the Scriptures, frequently signifies the doing or receiving of any thing plentifully, as they who multiply sins are said to drink iniquity like water, and they who are greatly afflicted are commonly said to drink the cup of sorrow.

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.Cutteth off the feet - Mutilates him, spoils the work which the messenger ought to fulfill.

Drinketh damage - i. e., "has to drink full draughts of shame and loss" (compare Job 15:16).

6. A fool fails by folly as surely as if he were maimed.

drinketh damage—that is, gets it abundantly (Job 15:16; 34:7).

He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool, he that employeth a fool upon any important errand or business which is too hard for him,

cutteth off the feet, to wit, of his messenger; he bids one go that wants legs; he sends one who wants that discretion, which is as necessary for that employment as legs are for going.

Drinketh damage; he bringeth upon himself abundance of loss and mischief, not only spoiling that business about which he sends him, but making himself contemptible to the person to whom he sends him, and to others with him, as if he had not common prudence to choose a fit messenger, and giving occasion, by the folly of his messenger, to further misunderstandings, and jealousies, and inconveniences. For the phrase, we may observe that drinking in Scripture frequently notes the plentiful doing or receiving of any thing, as they who multiply sins are said to drink iniquity like water, Job 15:16 34:7; and they who are greatly afflicted are commonly said to drink the cup.

He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool,.... Who knows not how to deliver it in a proper manner, and is incapable of taking the answer, and reporting it as he should; or unfaithful in it, and brings a bad or false report, as the spies did upon the good land;

cutteth off the feet; he may as well cut off his feet before he sends him, or send a man without feet, as such an one; for prudence, diligence, and faithfulness in doing a message, and bringing back the answer, are as necessary to a messenger as his feet are;

and drinketh damage; to himself; his message not being rightly performed, and business not done well; which is a loss to the sender, as well as to his credit and reputation with the person to whom he sends him; he hereby concluding that he must be a man of no great judgment and sense to send such a fool on his errand. Such are the unskilful ambassadors of princes; and such are unfaithful ministers, the messengers of the churches; see Proverbs 10:26. The words in the original are three sentences, without a copulative, and stand in this order, "he that cutteth off feet; he that drinketh damage; he that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool"; that is, they are alike.

He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off {c} the feet, {d} and drinketh damage.

(c) That is, of the messenger whom he sends.

(d) That is, receives damage by it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. the feet] Rather his own feet, R.V.

By choosing such a messenger he robs himself by his own act of the means of attaining his end, and suffers accordingly.

Verse 6. - He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool. This clause comes in the Hebrew after the next. Cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage. To entrust an important commission to a fool is to deprive one's self of the means of having it properly executed, and to bring upon one's self shame and injury. A man who is so silly as to employ such an unfit messenger, as it were, cuts off the feet which should bear him on his errand, and, instead of enjoying the satisfaction of seeing the business well performed, he will be mortified and damaged by the blunder and stupidity of his emissary. Septuagint, "He maketh for himself reproach from his own ways (ὁδῶν,? ποδῶν) who sendeth a word by a foulish messenger." The Vulgate reads the first participle in a passive sense, claudus pedibus; but this is uneccessary. We have similar phrases to "drinketh damage" elsewhere; e.g., Job 15:16 "drinketh in iniquity;" 34:7, "drinketh up scorn;" and with a different word, Proverbs 19:28, "devoureth iniquity." Proverbs 26:66 He cutteth off the feet, he drinketh injury,

   Who transacteth business by a fool.

He cutteth off, i.e., his own feet, as we say: he breaks his neck, il se casse le cou; Lat. frangere brachium, crus, coxam; frangere navem (Fleischer). He thinks to supplement his own two legs by those of the messenger, but in reality he cuts them off; for not only is the commission not carried out, but it is even badly carried out, so that instead of being refreshed (Proverbs 13:17; Proverbs 25:13) by the quick, faithful execution of it, he has to swallow nothing but damage; cf. Job 34:7, where, however, drinking scorn is meant of another (lxx), not his own; on the contrary, חמס here refers to injury suffered (as if it were חמדו, for the suff. of חמס is for the most part objective); cf. the similar figures Proverbs 10:26. So שׁלח בּיד, to accomplish anything by the mediation of another, cf. Exodus 4:13; with דבר (דברים), 2 Samuel 15:36. The reading מקצּה (Jerome, Luther, claudus) is unnecessary; since, as we saw, מקצּה ,was ew includes it in the sibi. The Syr. reads, after the lxx (the original text of which was ἐκ τῶν ποδῶν ἑαυτοῦ), מקצה, for he errs, as also does the Targumist, in thinking that מקצה can be used for מקצץ; but Hitzig adopts this reading, and renders: "from the end of the legs he swallows injury who sends messages by a fool." The end of the legs are the feet, and the feet are those of the foolish messenger. The proverb in this form does not want in boldness, but the wisdom which Hitzig finds in its is certainly not mother-wit.

(Note: The Venet. translates שׁתה by ἄνους, so שׁטה (the post-bibl. designation of a fool) - one of the many indications that this translator is a Jew, and as such is not confined in his knowledge of language only to the bibl. Hebrew.)

Bttcher, on his part, also with מקצה, renders: "from the end of his feet he drinks in that which is bitter..." - that also is too artificial, and is unintelligible without the explanation of its discoverer. But that he who makes a fool his messenger becomes himself like unto one who cuts off his own legs, is a figure altogether excellent.

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