Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand
is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
Whether we visualize a thorn pressing into the hand of a drunkard or of a drunkard wielding a thorn branch, the reaction is “Ouch!” So is the reaction of hearing a fool speak a proverb. What comes out of a wise person’s mouth sounding profound and noble comes out like the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard from a fool’s mouth.
Why is this? For one, the fool obviously does not keep the proverb and so the irony is felt. The fool is not quite like the hypocrite who knows that he does not live what he preaches. The fool thinks he is wise. He thinks he truly models the proverb he speaks. He would agree with all the previous proverbs of this chapter, hoping that fools would heed them.
Another reason for the “pain” of hearing a fool speak a proverb is that he invariably misapplies it. He is like the sluggard who delights in quoting Jesus’ remark not to worry about tomorrow, or like the greedy person quoting Jesus, “Ask, and it will be given to you.” It is such abuse of wise teachings that is painful to hear.
Let us then be careful ourselves when we quote Scripture. It is better to have nothing to say than to take God’s truth and turn it into a false teaching.
Lord, remember David
and all his self-denial.
2 He swore an oath to the Lord,
he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
3 “I will not enter my house
or go to my bed,
4 I will allow no sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
5 till I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
6 We heard it in Ephrathah,
we came upon it in the fields of Jaar:[a]
7 “Let us go to his dwelling place,
let us worship at his footstool, saying,
8 ‘Arise, Lord, and come to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
9 May your priests be clothed with your righteousness;
may your faithful people sing for joy.’”
10 For the sake of your servant David,
do not reject your anointed one.
11 The Lord swore an oath to David,
a sure oath he will not revoke:
“One of your own descendants
I will place on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and the statutes I teach them,
then their sons will sit
on your throne for ever and ever.”
13 For the Lord has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
14 “This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
15 I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.
17 “Here I will make a horn[b] grow for David
and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
but his head will be adorned with a radiant crown.”