Category Archives: Warnings

Heeding Jim Croce

Proverbs 26:17

17 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

Helping Out

I once saw someone with her kids and minivan stopped on the side of the road. I had to stop and give them a ride.

She had said she knew someone who could help get the minivan, though she needed it as soon as possible. However, she was having some money issues, so it might be a while.

I had done my duty, and I could have stopped helping her right there. Instead, I called my friend who had a friend, and her van was towed to a garage.

Two days later, she and her kids were out of their apartment. They had been evicted for not paying rent. There were past-due bills stuck to the apartment door.

And I was stuck with the $600 storage and removal fees for her minivan that she never claimed.

Spitting into the Wind

Jim Croce was a folk singer a few decades ago who wrote about this very thing. In his song “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim“, he has these lyrics:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

 In the song, there is a man nobody messes with: Jim. He takes what he wants when we wants, and anyone who gets in his way gets trouble. It would be like grabbing the ears of a dog after you broke into someone’s house.

Jim learned this when he flirted with the wife of a man named “Slim”. He had never heard about Jim, and Jim finally messed with the wrong dog.

Sometimes there are things that come along in lie that common sense warns us is stupid and dangerous. Disregarding common sense in those situations can prove as dangerous as spitting into the wind or grabbing the ears of an angry dog.

Fortunately the Bible helps us understand some of the things that our common sense may not pick up on, and our friends can help us even more. (Which is one of the reasons Hebrews 10:24-25 was written.)

Great God, give us the discernment to know the situations that are not good for us, the wisdom to know when to act and not to act, and the strength to say “No” when we need to.


The Lazy Boy

Proverbs 26:14

“As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.” (KJV).
“As a door turns back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed.” (NLT). 

lazy 2

The Natural Lazy Boy:

It’s amazing today how so many in today’s culture celebrate the idea of being lazy. Today’s generation of young people with their “oh well, whatever, never-mind” dysfunction is everywhere you look. They say that there is nothing new under the sun, and it’s true. Laziness was a problem with human beings when King Solomon wrote these Proverbs nearly three thousand years ago.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon says that a lazy person turns over in his bed the same was a door turns on its hinges. There is a lesson in this! It doesn’t matter how many times the door opens or closes, it never goes anywhere. Ten years from now, it will still be in the same doorway. In the same way, a lazy person will never get anywhere in life.

It shocks me the number of young people today who have no work ethic, and no motivation or desire to do anything with their lives. I know of young people who get a job but it doesn’t last because a few days or weeks into the job they don’t feel like working, so they just don’t show up to work so they get fired, or they eventually quit. I know of a man who goes from job to job, quitting one and being fired from another, and the saddest part of this story is that his son is following in his footsteps as well.

The Spiritual Lazy Boy:

Not only are people naturally lazy – averse or disinclined to work, activity, or exertion – but they are also spiritually lazy as well. There is no hunger or thirst for more of God in their lives, no passion or desire to seek the Lord in prayer or Bible reading, and no motivation to excel in living lives of purity and holiness. People come to church content to sing songs and hear stories about what God did in the past, with no expectation of encountering that same God today. What will become of us as a people if we don’t change?

The Challenge: Wake Up and Work Hard!

The Bible gives us this challenge: “And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.” (Eph. 5:14-16, NLT).

God has called every one of us to make a difference in the world for good. Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to prosper is that enough good men do nothing.” Let us be done with laziness in all of its forms – be it physical or spiritual laziness – and let us arise and let our lights shine in our world, that men may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven!


Never Learning

Proverbs 26:11

11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

Out of Nourishment

Dogs have this nasty habit of trying to eat their own vomit!

We know it is gross, but do we understand why?

  • Vomit is full of stomach acid, and the esophagus is not meant to handle the acid long. It burns away the lining.
  • Vomit is full of half-digested food. It has already provided its nourishment. There is no more to be had in the food.
  • Vomit is pre-poop! (Something else dogs occasionally eat … see previous point!)

It is not good for a dog (or anyone) to eat vomit!

Out of Sense

The more we do a task, the more ingrained it becomes. If that task is not good for us, it gradually wears us down.

Just like a dog eating its vomit, if we continue sinning, it is like our soul is vomiting and then consuming it again. It wears us down, and our soul gets more sick.

A fool will think it is funny (and probably giggles when reading “pre-poop”!) and see no harm when a dog eats its vomit.

A fool also repeats and celebrates sin.

And in the process, the fool slowly kills his or her own soul.

Giver of Life, do not let us continue to destroy our souls and bodies. By the name of Jesus give us the wisdom to turn from our sin, the strength to follow through, and the grace to forgive ourselves and grow beyond our sin.


A Difficult Thought

Proverbs 26:10

“The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.”
“Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” – ESV

This proverb is a challenging one because of how many different ways it could be translated. As a matter of fact, practically every scholarly commentary admits the Hebrew in this proverb is difficult to interpret. That is why I am going to quote several of them before I leave my final thought for you.

Spence-Jones (The Pulpit Commentary)

Few passages have given greater difficulty than this verse; almost every word has been differently explained. The Authorized Version is, The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors; Revised Version, As an archer (Job 16:13) that woundeth all, so is he that hireth the fool and he that hireth them that pass by. At first sight one would hardly suppose that these could be versions of the same passage. [1]

Garrett (The New American Commentary)

The Hebrew of v. 10 is almost unintelligible and thus subject to numerous interpretations, all of which are hypothetical. As the NIV has it, the verse reaffirms that one should not commit important tasks to fools (as in v. 6). Notwithstanding all the difficulties of the text, that does seem to be the main point.[2]

Friedrich and Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament)

All that we have hitherto read is surpassed in obscurity by this proverb, which is here connected because of the resemblance of ושכר to שכור. We translate it thus, vocalizing differently only one word:

            Much bringeth forth from itself all; But the reward and the hirer of the fool pass away.[3]

Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry

Our translation [KJV] gives this verse a different reading in the text and in the margin; and accordingly it expresses either, 1. The equity of a good God. The Master, or Lord (so Rab signifies), or, as we read it, The great God that formed all things at first, and still governs them in infinite wisdom, renders to every man according to his work. … Or, 2. The iniquity of a bad prince (so the margin reads it): A great man grieves all, and he hires the fool; he hires also the transgressors. When a wicked man gets power in his hand, by himself, and by the fools and knaves whom he employs under him, whom he hires and chooses to make use of, he grieves all who are under him and is vexatious to them. We should therefore pray for kings and all in authority, that, under them, our lives may be quiet and peaceable.[4]

Anthony Baker (Proverbial Thought)

So, here is what I think. Feel free to quote me 200 years from now.

A man is a fool when he employs a fool to complete a task. However, the biggest fool is one who thinks God, the Almighty Archer, will miss the target when He holds the wicked accountable.

We are always under His watchful eye, but the fool is never out of His “sights.”


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Proverbs, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 500.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 213.

[3] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 6 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 387.

[4] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994).


How Are Your Walls?

Proverbs 25:28

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

City Walls

Most cities today have no walls; they are usually protected from invaders in other ways. But back in the days of Solomon it was common to see a city with large walls built around it for defense. Without those tall, stone walls, much like what we would imagine circling a castle, a city would be completely vulnerable to attack.

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in...

In the Old Testament we can read of a man named Nehemiah who realized the importance of city walls. When one of his brothers came to visit, he asked how things were going in Jerusalem. That’s when he found out the bad news.

“They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:3-4 NLT

Later, Nehemiah went before King Artaxerxes, the kink in whose court he served, to ask permission to rebuild the wall. His request was graciously accepted, and the king even provided the materials needed for the job. However, none of this would have happened had Nehemiah not realized the humiliating and dangerous predicament Jerusalem was in. They needed walls.

Walls of Discipline

Solomon knew what he was talking about when he wrote this proverb, for he knew about human desire. But, as a king, he also knew about city walls and the need for defense. He recognized the similarity between a defenseless city and the undisciplined, careless soul.

A person who has no control over his desires is like a city that parties away the night without any clue that an invasion is imminent.

He with no rule over his own spirit is like a city full of treasures ready to be plundered.

The one with no self-control invites destruction.

Maybe it is time we share the burden of Nehemiah and repair the broken down walls in our own lives. 


Happy Songs Not Allowed

Proverbs 25:20

“As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.”

Country Songs

banjoConsidering how I was born and “raised” in Tennessee, I know a little about country music. Believe it or not, I have written a country song (to prove I could), played and recorded music in Nashville, and even toured Brenda Lee‘s house when I was a kid (I helped her daughters with a lemonade stand).

Country music (at least the stuff before Kid Rock) was earthy, blue-collar music that spoke of real life, or at least what was left of it after one spent too much time hunting, fishing, or drinking in a bar. The lyrics were usually sad, depressing, and great reasons to stay drunk. For example…

“Hunting Dear”

I came home late from hunting deer / My wife drank all my favorite beer / And then before the night was even done / My fishing poles were broke in two / And as she said, “I’m gone – we’re through / She took my dog, my truck, and my gun!

So I’ll walk down to the bar / I can stumble along that far / A country boy don’t need a cheetn’ girl / I’ll drink away my pain / Till my dog comes home again / Then we’ll both go out together…huntin’ dear.

– by Anthony Baker (just now)

Heavy Hearts

The reason why country music is so loved is the same reason the blues are so popular: heavy, broken hearts. Some say it’s impossible to really play the blues if you’ve never been heartbroken. I believe it.

I don’t know what version of country or blues Solomon had playing in his chariot, but he evidently understood that people with broken or heavy hearts hate to hear happy songs. He implied that playing cheerful music for a heavy heart is about as smart as taking one’s coat off in cold weather, or pouring vinegar on soda.

It’s Like This…

Imagine the feeling of already being chilled, but then having your coat taken away. It’s like going from bad to worse. When a person is down and depressed the last thing he really wants to hear at the moment is, “I am happy; you can be too!” Saying (or singing) that just makes the cold even colder.

The word nitre comes from the Hebrew word נֶתֶר (nether), which is what we would recognize, today, as carbonate of soda. Have you ever seen what happens when you pour vinegar on baking soda?  Not only does the soda become worthless for cleaning, but it will explode! That’s what can happen when a sad person hears a happy song.

Just Listen

In reality, besides listening to country music or the blues, the one with a heavy heart needs someone to listen, to nod a head, and be a friend. Singing a happy song to a hurting friend, although well-meaning, may seem like you don’t care, or worse, like you haven’t heard.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities…” – Hebrews 4:15

Sometimes the best encouragement for a hurting friend or loved one is to cry along with them. That’s one reason why Jesus came.


Sticks and Stones

Proverbs 25:18.

“A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.” (KJV).

Playground Lies:

Calvin & Hobbes - sticks and stones

Do you remember that old adage you used to repeat on the playground when someone called you names? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Or there was the oh-so-smart, “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” As clever as those phrases may be, unfortunately, neither of them is true. Words hurt!

In today’s Proverb, Solomon teaches us about the power of words. In the New Living Translation of this Scripture, he says, “Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.” Words hurt!

Deep Wounds:

I’ll be honest. I would rather have someone punch me in the face than lie about me, gossip about me, or slander my name. If you punch me or kick me, I’ll get a bruise that will go away quickly. But words are wounds that go deep and have lasting repercussions.

I had a situation once where a person started telling all sorts of lies about me. He began gossiping about me to anyone who would listen. One of the first responses was that several people believed his lies, and they left the church. That was one of the external effects of his words. But internally, the words began to affect my heart as well.

I have always been a very positive and optimistic person. The glass is always half full, and I always believe the best about people. But as this person’s lies about me began to spread, I found myself getting overwhelmed emotionally by what he said. He was trashing my reputation, and ruining friendships that I had with people.

I started losing my joy, and his words started taking a physical toll on my body as well. I started having restless, sleepless nights. I started experiencing many migraine headaches, stomach problems, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and more. I started losing weight; I had little appetite, and had a hard time keeping anything down. I even had to take some stress leave from work – something I have never had to do before or since.

The point of today’s Scripture is simply this: Words are powerful! Think very carefully before you speak a negative word about someone else – whether it is true or false. Words hurt!

Check out this great 30 second ad that shows the power of words…