Giving Honor to a Fool
As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.
1. So far in this chapter, Solomon has been speaking much about fools.
a. Vs.1 – Honor is not seemly for a fool.
b. Vs. 3 – A rod for the back of a fool.
c. Vs. 4-5 – The dilemma about whether or not to answer a fool.
d. Vs. 6 – Sending a message by the hand of a fool.
e. Vs. 7 – A parable in the mouth of a fool.
f. Vs. 8 – Giving honor to a fool.
2. Verses 1 and 8 are very similar in that they both speak of giving honor to a fool.
a. But there is a major distinction.
b. Verse 1 speaks of the unseemliness of it.
c. Verse 8 speaks of the danger of it.
As he that bindeth a stone in a sling…
1. At first the connection between the illustration and the application was not apparent.
a. The immediate picture that came to mind was putting a stone in a slingshot, pulling the rubber bands, and letting it fly out. (We used inner tubes sliced just right for the sling shot.)
b. We usually think of slingshots as a V-shaped stick with rubber bands which when pulled cause the stone to fly.
c. But in the Middle East they used a very different kind of sling shot. They didn’t use inner tubes; they used leather—which has virtually no elasticity.
d. Their sling shot did not use the spring of rubber bands. They used the force of twirling the stone overhead and then releasing it at just the right moment.
e. Their type of sling shot requires a little more skill than the type we are accustomed to.
2. After examining several different interpretations for this proverb, I have chosen to focus on the word BINDETH as the key in its meaning.
a. Bindeth defined: To bind; to cramp; to narrow; restrict; to wrap; to bundle up; to confine.
b. Num. 22:26 – Here the term is translated “narrow place” which offered no way to escape… no way to turn. (stuck)
3. “Binding a stone in a sling”
a. With this definition in mind, it enables us to better understand what the expression means.
b. Solomon is not speaking about placing a stone in a V-shaped sling shot.
c. He is speaking about “binding” a stone in the type of sling used in the Middle East – the type that is twirled over your head before releasing.
d. The use of the word “bind” indicates that the stone was not placed in the sling very carefully.
e. Rather, it was placed there carelessly. It was placed in the sling in such a way that it was restricted.
f. It was cramped and wrapped up in such a way that it was twirled, and it was time to release the stone, it would become entangled, all bound up, and would not release properly.
g. Instead of hitting the intended target, it could whip back around and hit the person throwing the stone in the head!
h. In other words, misplacing the stone through carelessness didn’t help you—it HURT you!
i. It didn’t accomplished what you hoped it would; it came back to bite you—and give you a black eye!
j. You would be much better off taking a little extra time to be sure that the stone is placed in the sling properly.
So is he that giveth honour to a fool.
1. Solomon states in this proverb that in some way(s), carelessly binding a stone in a sling is like giving honor to a fool.
a. Solomon already told us that there is something unseemly (inappropriate and unfitting) about giving honor to a fool. It is as inappropriate as snow in summer. (vs.1) Something is wrong with that picture.
b. Now his point is that not only is it inappropriate—it is outright dangerous!
2. It is careless and reckless to give honor to a fool.
a. It is as careless and reckless as placing a stone in a sling in such a way that it becomes entangled and hits you in the head.
• Giving honor to a fool is careless because it was not well thought out.
• Are you SURE that is the person you really want to honor… the one who just did something foolish?
• If a person is placing a stone in a sling that he is going to swing over his own head, he should be very careful about the way the stone is placed in the sling. Like the person folding a parachute – you want to be very careful about HOW you fold it, especially if it is the one that you are going to use on your next jump!
• Giving honor to a fool is careless because by giving honor to a fool for his folly, you can only expect more of the same!
• Behavior that is rewarded will be repeated.
• You might want to rethink the giving of honor… and place it a little more carefully on someone else other than the fool.
b. Giving honor to a fool is harmful to the one who gives the honor. It may come back to bite you or give you a black eye!
• The manager may carelessly give honor to one of his workers by giving him a promotion.
» However, if the worker is a fool and didn’t deserve the honor, the manager may discover that his decision to honor him may come back to bite him.
» It might hit him right between the eyes… especially if the foolish worker makes a mess in his new position and the CEO or the owner discovers that you were the one who honored that fool!
• The coach that honors a player by making him captain needs to be careful in that decision.
» Honoring a player that is talented but does not give his best effort may come back to bite you.
» The slackness of the captain may spread to the rest of the team and ruin their chances for victory.
» That careless choice is like being careless about placing a stone in a sling. That rock could hit you in the head!
• I Tim.3:6 – “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”
» Paul warns Timothy about appointing a “novice” to the position of an elder.
» A novice is likely to do something foolish because of a lack of maturity.
» That may prove to be harmful and hurtful to the church and to the one who appointed him.
• There is a place for positive reinforcement in parenting. But there is no place for honoring foolish behavior of a child.
» If a child is behaving poorly and foolishly, don’t reward that bad behavior. Don’t honor him.
» That will only result in more of the same kind of foolish behavior.
c. Honor that is misplaced (like a stone that is not carefully placed in a sling) can hurt you.
• Of course, even with interviewing people and being as careful as you can be, sometimes, fools do get honored and promoted.
• But if you KNOW someone to be foolish… slack in his work… a goof off… unreliable… unstable… don’t honor him with a promotion!
• Don’t assume that if he is put in a high position that he will change. It may simply provide him with a broader platform to perform his folly.
• Folly in Proverbs is a moral failure.
• That’s why character matters so. Honor good character and you will get more of it; honor folly and you will get more of that too!
3. Examples of misplaced honor
a. I Sam. 8:1-3 – When Samuel was old, he appointed his sons to be judges in Israel.
• Samuel knew that his sons were foolish young men – sons of Belial.
• Samuel knew that his sons did not walk with the Lord: they took bribes and perverted judgment in the land.
• Nevertheless, Samuel honored them by promoting them to the position of judges.
• This came back to hurt Samuel: it tarnished his testimony.
• It hurt the nation too: the people (who also knew what Samuel’s sons were like) ended up pleading for a king like all the other nations. They knew these sons would run the nation into the ground.
4. Be careful in giving honor.
a. Rom. 13:7c – Give honor to whom it is due.
• But don’t give honor where it is not due.
• Our culture is changing; we seem to want to honor everyone and everything equally—which itself is folly.
» Everyone gets a reward; everyone gets a crown; everyone gets an A; everyone is promoted.
» But using that method, fools will be rewarded and honored too. The result is more folly!
• Before you bestow honor on someone, Solomon warns us to be sure it is earned… deserved… warranted.
• A hastily chosen “honor” can do more harm than good.
• When placing a stone in a sling, it is a good idea to take a little extra time to be sure the stone is properly placed so that it doesn’t hit you in the head.
• When giving out honor, rewards, or promotions, it is a good idea to take a little extra time to be sure that the honor is properly placed… so that it doesn’t end up hurting you down the road a piece.