Proverbs -- Chapter 26
It seems clear to me that this chapter has to do with three evils. They are pride, laziness, and the damaging use of speech. Of course all of these are tied to the root issue of foolishness.
The writer's description of the fool in v1-11 is nothing less than fierce and graphic. While reading it this morning I thought of Jesus' curses upon the Pharisees and hypocrites found in Matthew 23. I wondered who could be in a worse situation than the fool. Then I read v12 -- "Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him". There is someone in a more perilous predicament than the standard fool -- the one who is proud, or maybe we can say the self-satisfied one, which leads us into the section of the chapter on the lazy, who are portrayed as those "wise in their own eyes" (v16). Of course all of these character issues are not only related to foolishness, but to each other.
Just one note on the lazy; they will find excuses for their inactivity (v13). If we are lazy we defy God by rebellion against not only His commands to work, but against a part of our bearing of His image and nature. That is, God is a worker (Ge 1-2; Jn 5). There is much in Scripture on the goodness and godliness of working.
Verse 17 to the end of the chapter condemn those of us who cannot control our tongues, which James later tells us are "a fire" and "a world of unrighteousness" (Ja 3:6).
Interesting in this wisdom chapter are the ways we are told to relate to the proud, the lazy, and the loose-lipped. We must not honor the foolish (v1 & v8), or trust them with certain tasks (v6 & v10), or waste words on them while at the same time, in particular circumstances, attempting to correct them (v4-5). In addition, we must not believe those who have shown themselves to be loveless (v24-25). Hatred seeks its own (cf 1 Co 13:5). And the person determined to get his own way is not loving his neighbor, but using him.
Certainly each of these evils are in me. I pray though they do not and will not characterize me. May God be merciful to me, a sinner.