Proverbs 26:9
As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
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(9) As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard.—Rather, (As) a thornbush (which) comes into the hand of a drunkard, so (is) a parable (which comes) into the mouth of fools. They know not how to use it, and only do themselves and others harm by it. (Comp. 2Peter 3:16.)

Proverbs 26:9. As a thorn, &c. — “It is as dangerous for a fool to meddle with a proverb as for a drunkard to handle a thorn, wherewith he hurts himself: but the sharpest saying no more touches a fool with any compunction, though spoken by his own mouth, than the drunkard feels the thorn when it runs into his hand and gives him a grievous wound.” — Bishop Patrick.

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.Better: "As a thorn which is lifted up in the hand of the drunkard" etc. As such a weapon so used may do mischief to the man himself or to others, so may the sharp, keen-edged proverb when used by one who does not understand it. 9. As vexatious and unmanageable as a thorn in a drunkard's hand is a parable to a fool. He will be as apt to misuse is as to use it rightly. As a thorn is in a drunkard’s hand, which he cannot hold and manage cautiously, but employeth to his own and others’ hurt,

so is a parable in the mouth of fools; as improper and unprofitable, and, by accident, hurtful to himself and others. See Poole "Proverbs 26:7".

As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard,.... And he perceives it not; or being in his hand he makes an ill use of it, and hurts himself and others with it;

so is a parable in the mouth of fools, a proverbial sentence respecting religious matters; or a passage of holy Scripture which either he understands not, and has no spiritual perception of, any more than the drunkard has of the thorn in his hand; or which being used as a pun, or by way of jest, as it is the manner of some to pun upon or jest with the Scripture, hurts himself and others, wounds his own conscience, and ruins the souls of others; for it is dangerous meddling with edge tools, and hard to kick against the pricks; so to do is like a drunken man's handling thorns, which he does without judgment, and to his own prejudice and others. Gussetius (x) understands this of a fish hook coming up into the hand of a drunkard empty, without taking any thing by it, and so alike useless is what is said by a fool.

(x) Ebr. Comment. p. 244.

As a thorn goeth {e} up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

(e) By which he hurts both himself and others.

9. As a thorn goeth up into the hand] i.e. as a thorn or thornbush taken up by a drunkard wounds himself.

This proverb carries the thought of Proverbs 26:7 a step further. A parable, or proverb, in the mouth of fools is not only useless but injurious. They take up a sharp, pointed saying, and instead of turning it to account, only injure themselves with it, as a drunkard pierces his own hand with the thorn which he grasps.

Verse 9. - As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard. There is here no idea of the drunkard's hand being pierced with a thorn while he is insensible to the pain, but rather of his being armed with it, and ripe for mischief. So it is best to render, "A thornbush cometh into the hand of a drunkard;" he somehow gets possession of it, and in his stupid excitement is liable to become dangerous. Some understand עלה of the growth of the thorn; thus the Septuagint, "Thorns grow in the hand of a drunkard;" Vulgate, "As if a thorn grew in the hand of a drunkard." But one does not see the bearing of such an expression; and the translation given above is more appropriate. So is a parable, etc. (as ver. 7). In that passage the wise saying in a fool's mouth was compared with something useless, here it is compared with something injurious. He employs it purposely to wound others; or by the ignorant use of some sharp-edged word he does much mischief. In this hemistich the LXX. has read משל with a different vocalization, and renders, "servitude (δουλεία) in the hand of fools." This seems to mean that it comes natural to fools to be manacled and restrained by force. Proverbs 26:99 A thorn goeth into the hand of a drunkard,

   And a proverb in a fool's mouth;

i.e., if a proverb falls into a fool's mouth, it is as if a thorn entered into the hand of a drunken man; the one is as dangerous as the other, for fools misuse such a proverb, which, rightly used, instructs and improves, only to the wounding and grieving of another, as a drunken man makes use of the pointed instrument which he has possession of for coarse raillery, and as a welcome weapon of his strife. The lxx, Syr. (Targ.?), and Jerome interpret עלה in the sense of shooting up, i.e., of growing; Bttcher also, after Proverbs 24:31 and other passages, insists that the thorn which has shot up may be one that has not grown to perfection, and therefore not dangerous. But thorns grow not in the hand of any one; and one also does not perceive why the poet should speak of it as growing in the hand of a drunken man, which the use of the hand with it would only make worse. We have here עלה בידי, i.e., it has come into my hand, commonly used in the Mishna, which is used where anything, according to intention, falls into one's hands, as well as where it comes accidentally and unsought for, e.g., Nazir 23a, מי שׁנתכוון לעלות בידו בשׂר חזיר ועלה בידו בשׂר טלה, he who designs to obtain swine's flesh and (accidentally) obtains lamb's flesh. Thus rightly Heidenheim, Lwenstein, and the Venet.: ἄκανθα ἀνέβη εἰς χεῖρα μεθύοντος. חוח signifies a thorn bush, 2 Kings 14:9,

(Note: The plur. חוחים, 1 Samuel 13:6, signifies not thorn bushes, but rock-splitting; in Damascus, chôcha means a little gate in the wing of a large door; vid., Wetstein's Nordarabien, p. 23.)

as well as a thorn, Sol 2:2, but where not the thorns of the rose, and indeed no rose at all, is meant. Luther thinks of the rose with the thorn when he explains: "When a drunkard carries and brandishes in his hand a thorn bush, he scratches more with it than allows the roses to be smelled - so a fool with the Scriptures, or a right saying, often does more harm than good." This paraphrase of Luther's interprets עלה ביד more correctly than his translation does; on the other hand, the latter more correctly is satisfied with a thorn twig (as a thorn twig which pierces into the hand of a drunken man); the roses are, however, assumed contrary to the text. This holds good also against Wessely's explanation: "the Mashal is like a rose not without thorns, but in the mouth of a fool is like a thorn without a rose, as when a drunken man seeks to pluck roses and gains by his effort nothing but being pierced by thorns." The idea of roses is to be rejected, because at the time when this proverb was formed there were no roses in Palestine. The proverb certainly means that a right Mashal, i.e., an ingenious excellent maxim, is something more and better than a חוח (the prick as of the Jewish thorn, Zizyphus vulgaris, or the Christus-thorn, the Ziz spina Christi); but in the mouth of a fool such a maxim becomes only a useless and a hurtful thing; for the fool so makes use of it, that he only embarrasses others and recklessly does injury to them. The lxx translates משׁל by δουλεία, and the Aram. by שׁטיוּתא; how the latter reached this "folly" is not apparent; but the lxx vocalized משׁל, according to which Hitzig, at the same time changing שׁכּור into שׂכוּר, translates: "thorns shoot up by the hand of the hireling, and tyranny by the mouth of fools." Although a hired labourer, yet, on this account, he is not devoid of conscience; thus 9a so corrected has something in its favour: one ought, as far as possible, to do all with his own hand; but the thought in 9b is far-fetched, and if Hitzig explains that want of judgment in the state councils creates despotism, so, on the other hand, Proverbs 24:7 says that the fool cannot give counsel in the gate, and therefore he holds his mouth.

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