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Proverbs 26 International Standard Version (ISV)

On Fools

26 Like snowfall in summer or rain at harvest time,
so honor is inappropriate for a fool.

Like a fluttering sparrow
    or a swallow in flight,
        a curse without cause will not alight.

A whip is for the horses,
    a bridle is for the donkey,
        a rod is for the back of fools.
Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness,
    or you will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his foolishness,
    or he will think himself to be wise.
Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool
    cuts off his own[a] feet and drinks violence.
Useless legs to the lame—
    that’s what a proverb quoted by a fool is.
Tying a stone to a sling—
    that’s what giving honor to a fool is.
A thorn in the hand of a drunkard—
    that’s what a proverb quoted by a fool is.
10 An archer who shoots at anyone—
    is like someone who hires a fool or anyone who passes by.
11 A dog that returns to its vomit
    is like a fool who reverts to his folly.
12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own opinion?
    There’s more hope for a fool than for him.

On Laziness

13 The lazy person claims, “There is a lion in the road!
    There’s a lion in the streets!”
14 The door turns on its hinges—
    as does the lazy person on his bed.
15 The lazy person buries his hand in the dish,
    but he’s too tired to bring it to his mouth again.
16 The lazy person is wiser in his own opinion
    than seven men who can give an appropriate response.

17 Picking up a dog by the ears—
    that’s what someone is like who[b] meddles in another’s fight.

18 Like the maniac who shoots
    fiery darts and deadly arrows—
19 that’s what someone is like who lies to his neighbor
    and then says, “I was joking, wasn’t I?”

On Gossip and Backbiting

20 Without wood, the fire goes out.
    Without a gossip, contention stops.
21 Charcoal is to hot coals
    as wood is to fire;
        so also a quarrelsome man fuels strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like delicate morsels;
    they sink down deep within.
23 A clay vessel plated with a thin veneer of silver—
    that’s what smooth[c] lips with a wicked heart are.
24 Someone who hates hides behind his words,
    harboring deceit within himself.
25 Though he speaks graciously, don’t believe him,
    for there are seven detestable things in his heart.
26 Though malice disguises itself with deception,
    its evil will be exposed publicly.

27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
    and the stone will come back
        on whoever starts it rolling.
28 A lying tongue hates its victims,
    and a flattering mouth causes ruin.


  1. Proverbs 26:6 The Heb. lacks his own
  2. Proverbs 26:17 Lit. who, as he is passing by,
  3. Proverbs 26:23 So LXX; MT reads burning
International Standard Version (ISV)

Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.


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