As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
Fools should be despised. They do not deserve honor or respect. If fools were ignored and shunned as they should be, they might consider Lady Wisdom’s gracious offer to help them out of their stupidity and stubbornness (Pr 1:22; 8:5; 9:4-5). Are you a fool, needing to be shamed? Or are you tempted to honor fools, who need to be shamed?
Here is a simile that compares honoring fools to unnatural weather and a farming disaster. Snow in summer is not right; it is contrary to nature. Rain at the wrong time can ruin a harvest, as farmers try to get a season’s crops into storage. Neither of these events is right, useful, or desired; they cause trouble, confusion, and loss to those involved.
Such weather events are not seemly; neither is it seemly to honor a fool. What does “seemly” mean? The Bible uses “meet,” “fit,” and “right” as synonyms, and the Oxford English Dictionary states: “Seemly. Suitable to the person or the occasion; appropriate.” So you easily understand, it is not suitable, appropriate, proper, or fitting to honor a fool.
If you love wisdom, and you can see that wisdom would make the world a better place, you should grasp how wrong it is to honor any fool. The proverb at hand ridicules honor to a fool as crazy as snow in summer or rain in harvest. But Solomon also compared it to binding a stone in a sling, which can be very counterproductive (Pr 26:8). Consider it.
Men honor fools for several reasons. They do not appreciate the danger of a fool; they do not recognize a fool; they see society accept and honor fools; a fool is their friend; a fool is a family member; they assume kindness is always right, even to fools; they think they can help a fool by mercy and honor; and/or they themselves are fools.
What is a fool? A fool denies God exists in word or deed (Ps 14:1); a fool rejects instruction (Pr 23:9), thinks mischief is funny (Pr 10:23), assumes he is right (Pr 12:15), cannot rule his anger (Pr 12:16), rejects correction (Pr 15:10), loves to argue (Pr 19:13), talks too much (Pr 15:2), is always discontent (Pr 17:24), slanders people (Pr 10:18), holds grudges (Pr 17:12), is stubborn (Pr 17:10), is not successful (Eccl 10:15), enjoys mischief (Pr 10:23), loves to meddle (Pr 20:3), goes right back to folly (Pr 26:11), trusts his heart (Pr 28:26), or is easily deceived (Pr 14:15). This is the basis for a definition.
Do you know any fools? Of course, you do. Some are likely in your family, among your friends, at your job, among fellow students, in your platoon, or in your church. You must respond to the lesson Solomon has put before you. How will you treat them? With honor and mercy? Or reproof and punishment? How much do you truly trust God’s wisdom?
God condemns fools (Ps 5:5), and you should treat them accordingly. Fools are properly treated by avoiding them (Pr 9:6; 13:20; 14:7), by not talking to them (Pr 23:9; 26:4), by rebuking them (Pr 26:5), and by beating them (Pr 26:3). Stripes may help them (Pr 10:13; 17:10; 18:6; 19:29; 20:30). Corporal punishment may be old fashioned, but it is wise. It is a shame that educators, employers, the military, and society have forsaken flogging.
What about fools with your last name? If your children, you will see an inclination to folly early on. Foolishness is bound in a child’s heart, but the rod of correction will drive it far away (Pr 22:15). Rather than honor a foolish child, teach him wisdom with reproof and a rod (Pr 29:15). This is inspired wisdom from heaven confirmed by King Solomon.
If you do not do this, your child may die young from the consequences of foolishness (Pr 23:13-14). If not, your spouse and you will be shamed by his or her public conduct (Pr 29:15,17), and you both will have to live with the constant pain of a foolish child (Pr 17:21,25; 10:1; 15:20; 19:13). Your family’s future depends on your treatment of fools.
Honoring a fool increases their foolishness (Pr 30:22), and it will encourage others to be fools (Pr 19:25). Fools might hate their folly, if everyone rejected and rebuked them. The lesson is simple, and if everyone did their part, there would be fewer fools and less folly.
Rulers violate this proverb by honoring fools and servants, and such a nation is in danger (Eccl 10:5-7). Labor unions, rappers in the White House, child rights, presidential roasts, and freedom of speech are examples of conduct or legislation used to honor fools or folly.
Jesus would not honor fools, and He died for it, because the Pharisees and other religious fools could not stand His life, answers, and condemnation (Mark 3:1-6; Matt 23:1-39). Common people easily saw His superiority to foolish speeches by scribes (Matt 7:28-29).
How much honor would He give foolish religious leaders, even when His apostles asked for a little? He said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt 15:13-14). The best Son of David was wise!