In Case You Missed It -- 2 Samuel 13-14, Proverbs 26
As David witnesses the beginnings of Nathan’s prophecy about his own household bringing calamity upon him, I want to focus on an interesting coupling of proverbs. First, Proverbs 26:4 reads, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” This idea is simple: if you try to correct a fool or get into a disagreement with a fool over their foolish actions, you might just prove to be a fool yourself. Getting into a disagreement with a fool often is a waste of time and certainly only going to raise your blood pressure. Yet immediately after comes Proverbs 26:5: “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” This proverb presents a kind of “on the other hand” type of wisdom. If you do not correct a fool they will go about patting themselves on the back, thinking that they are wise. If we pass on correcting a fool we allow them to persist in their foolishness. These two proverbs intentionally lead the reader into a sort of catch-22 situation where wisdom becomes necessary. There are troubles that come from correcting a fool and troubles that come when you don’t correct a fool. Which trouble will you choose? The wise person recognizes both possibilities in every situation and acts accordingly. This is another instance of Proverbs not telling us how to act in every situation, but giving us insight into our world to help us live wisely in all situations.