The Expository Files


Ever Grab a Dog's Ears?


"He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears" (Prov. 26:17).

I am a huge fan of dogs. Big ones, small ones, tall ones, fat ones. I love dogs. They are friendly, loyal, fun, loyal, hard working, loyal, furry and loyal (not necessarily in that order). I once heard an old story that when God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden part of the punishment was that a huge divide opened between them and the animal kingdom. In the last second before the chasm separated people and animals, the story went, the dog jumped across to forever stand with humans. While that story certainly is not biblical it sounds pretty good to me because it reminds me of most of the dogs I have ever known.

But as friendly and obedient as dogs can be only a complete idiot would try to pick up a dog by his ears. That is a vivid image, isn't it? Care to hold a Doberman by those short little ears? What about swinging a full-sized Lab by his big floppy ears? We instinctively know better. To grab a dog by his ears is to guarantee pain and injury - and not to the dog!

Solomon plays off this easy-to-see picture to forcefully remind us to mind our own business. Fooling with someone else's problems, butting into other's arguments, meddling in other's affairs is just not smart. In fact, it is just about as smart as grabbing a dog by his ears. When I see some folks in a big wrangle and I am tempted to step in and get everyone straightened out I just need to think about those canine ears. Then I will be reminded how my interference is not wanted or needed.

That is a pretty practical proverb, isn't it? I am amazed at the number of people who think the Bible is some outdated book that says nothing about life today. I expect those folks have never cracked Proverbs! It is just brimming with good ideas, wisdom, funny word pictures and more - all designed to help us see the best way to live. It is an enormously relevant book that does not take a Ph.D. to understand. Did you understand about the dog's ears? Then you are ready to read Proverbs. Give it a try. You will be dazzled with the simple wisdom of God's word, and your life will be better for following it. Trust God's wisdom! Try some of Proverbs today.

By Mark Roberts
From Expository Files 13.9; September 2006