A Dog's Ears

Proverbs 26:17-23 (NRSV)

Like somebody who takes a passing dog by the ears is one who meddles in the quarrel of another. Like a maniac who shoots deadly firebrands and arrows, so is one who deceives a neighbor and says, "I am only joking!" For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal is to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are smooth lips with an evil heart.

Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.

- Proverbs 26:17 (NIV)

THE first time I read Proverbs 26:17, I burst out laughing. I consider this one of the most humorous verses in the Bible. Who would want to seize a dog by the ears? I remember when my dog, Toby, had an ear infection. He let me tend to his ear, but he certainly didn't like it. Most dogs would react unfavorably to having someone grab their ears.

I started thinking about what the proverb was trying to say. If people meddle or interfere in the affairs of others without being asked, they will provoke a negative response. No one likes it when someone interferes in his or her life (though of course some serious situations require action).

In day-to-day situations, I have enough problems to work on in my own life to keep me busy; I don't need to add the task of judging others. I don't need to try to pressure others into solving difficulties I see in their lives. As Jesus said, we must get the log out of our own eye before we try to remove the speck from another person's eye (Matthew 7:3-5).

Prayer: Dear God, help us to look at ourselves honestly and to see where we need to change. Amen.


What can we do instead of judging others?


Meddlesome people