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Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary - Proverbs 26:4-5

See here the noble security of the scripture-style, which seems to contradict itself, but really does not. Wise men have need to be directed how to deal with fools; and they have never more need of wisdom than in dealing with such, to know when to keep silence and when to speak, for there may be a time for both. 1. In some cases a wise man will not set his wit to that of a fool so far as to answer him according to his folly ?If he boast of himself, do not answer him by boasting of thyself. If... read more

John Gill

John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary - Proverbs 26:5

Answer a fool according to his folly ,.... The Targum is, "but speak with a fool in thy wisdom;' and the Syriac version, "yea, speak with a fool according to thy wisdom;' which would at once remove the seeming contradiction in these words to the former, but then they are not a true version; indeed it is right, and must be the sense, that when a fool is answered, as it is sometimes necessary he should, that it be done in wisdom, and so as to expose his folly; he is to be answered and... read more

Spence, H. D. M., etc.

The Pulpit Commentary - Proverbs 26:1-9

Honouring the unworthy There are different ways in which we may honour men, whether the wise or the unwise. We may I. ITS PAINFUL INCONGRUITY . "As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool." To hear a fool attempting lamely to discourse wisdom is suggestive of the motion of a man whose "legs are not equal." For the post of honour to be occupied by one who has disgraced himself by guilty foolishness, or who has neglected his opportunities, and is... read more

Spence, H. D. M., etc.

The Pulpit Commentary - Proverbs 26:1-12

Certain proverbs concerning the fool ( kesil ), with the exception, perhaps, of Proverbs 26:2 (see on Proverbs 1:22 ). read more

Spence, H. D. M., etc.

The Pulpit Commentary - Proverbs 26:4-5

The wise treatment of folly These two verses need not be taken as mutually contradictory. They balance one another. I. IT IS DIFFICULT TO ANSWER FOLLY . Whichever way we take it, we are in danger of blundering. If we meet it on its own ground we may share its shame. If we treat it soberly we may only incur ridicule. Both courses are beset with difficulties. This is especially true of folly in the biblical sense of the word, according to which it is not so much stupidity as... read more

Spence, H. D. M., etc.

The Pulpit Commentary - Proverbs 26:4-5

The two ways of meeting folly They are these— I. THE CAREFUL AVOIDANCE OF REPEATING IT . ( Proverbs 26:4 .) Only too often men allow the foolish to draw them into a repetition of their folly, so that one fool makes another. Folly is contagious, and we are all in some danger of catching it. This is the case with us when: 1 . We let the word of anger provoke us to a responsive bitterness; then we are "overcome of evil" instead of "overcoming evil with good" ( Romans... read more

Spence, H. D. M., etc.

The Pulpit Commentary - Proverbs 26:4-12

Discussion of folly and its treatment I. How we ANSWER THE FOOL . ( Proverbs 26:4 , Proverbs 26:5 .) 1 . Not according to his folly; i . e . so chiming in with his nonsense that yon become as he is. Do not descend into the arena with a fool. Preserve self-respect, and observe the conduct of the Saviour when to folly he "answered not again." 2 . According to his folly; that is, with the sharp and cutting reply his folly invites and deserves. We have also... read more

Spence, H. D. M., etc.

The Pulpit Commentary - Proverbs 26:5

Answer a fool according to his folly. This maxim at first sight seems absolutely antagonistic to the purport of the preceding verse; but it is not so really. The words, "according to his folly," in this verse mean, as his folly deserves, in so plain a way as is expose it, and shame him, and bring him to a better mind. Lest he be wise in his own conceit; thinking, it may be, that he has said something worth hearing, or put you to silence by his superior intelligence. read more

Joseph Benson

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments - Proverbs 26:4-5

Proverbs 26:4-5. Answer not a fool, &c. Answer a fool, &c. These contrary directions are easily reconciled, by considering the difference of persons, times, places, and other circumstances, and of the manner of answering. And such seemingly contradictory precepts are not only used by, but are esteemed elegant in other authors. Answer him not, when he is incorrigible, or when he is inflamed with wine, or with passion, &c., or when it is not necessary nor likely to do him... read more

Donald C. Fleming

Bridgeway Bible Commentary - Proverbs 26:1-28

Fools and troublemakers (26:1-28)Only a fool honours a fool, and only a fool curses another without cause. Such a curse cannot come true (26:1-2). People with wisdom know on which occasions to ignore a fool and on which occasions to answer him (3-5). Fools cannot be trusted. For them, proverbs are as useless as paralysed legs, and honour is as useless as a stone tied to the sling that is supposed to throw it out (6-8). Fools with a little knowledge can be dangerous. As employees, they can... read more

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