As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
The world around you contains powerful object lessons for your instruction. A despicable trait of dogs should impress on your mind the disgusting nature of sin and the insanity of those who return to it. Though the picture is less than the reality, the point is made.
Common in Solomon’s proverbs, here is a simple simile making a comparison between a natural event and a moral principle. Similes are identified by their use of “like” or “as.” In just fourteen words, you have a powerful description and condemnation of fools.
Also common in Proverbs, you have one of God’s incredibly diverse creatures chosen to give you an object lesson. Elsewhere you may read of the ant, lion, spider, swine, coney, eagle, horseleach, snake, greyhound, goat, and locust. See the comments on Prov 30:24.
The dog is not the Creator’s best friend. Scripture mentions dogs forty times without one positive note. They are vile creatures representing sodomites, wicked men, devils, greed, noise, and viciousness. They are compared to pigs. They are a byword. But fools still exceed them by the greedy and voracious appetite they have for reviling and wicked sins.
A disgusting trait of dogs is to eat their own vomit. When their belly must reject offending matter, they return and eat it again. It is a shame you do not have the same sickening horror for sin that you do for this picture of a dog vomiting his filth and eating it. It would be profit for your soul, if you could learn to abhor your sinful lusts and sins.
Though man was made in the likeness of God, a little lower than the angels, the holy God compares your fallen state to one of His most despicable creatures. Satan told your first mother, “Ye shall be as gods.” But the righteous Judge declared, “Ye are as dogs.” Vile comparisons are used in the Bible to show man’s despicable character and treatment of the Most High God, as by graphic spiritual adultery in Ezekiel chapters 16 and 23.
Peter declared Solomon’s words to be a true proverb (II Pet 2:20-22). He used it to condemn those who forsake their conversion and return to the vomit of this world, as Lot, Solomon, Demas, and others. To escape the pollutions of this world and then return to be entangled in them again puts a man in a worse condition than before his conversion.
Folly is sin. Even the thought of foolishness is sin (Pr 24:9). Folly causes great shame and pain in souls and lives (Pr 13:15; Ps 36:2; Jer 2:19). Sin hurts men; it hurts their families; it hurts their fortunes; it hurts their fame; it hurts their health. Yet men rush back to it again and again, even after sober and vehement oaths of repentance and reformation. What is wrong with them? Their instincts are depraved and defiled. They love that which they should hate, and they hate that which they should love. They are perverse.
A bad heart attack will get a man’s attention – even a lazy glutton. A couple days after bypass surgery, he wants the specific details of super nutrition and the best exercise program. He makes resolutions, plans his schedule, and orders a year’s worth of pita bread and lettuce and two treadmills. But after three months of no angina, he is again a couch potato inhaling pounds of cheese nachos and candy. Did he forget the crushing pain of his heart attack? Or does he crave the poison that almost killed him? Or both?
Consider a drunkard (Pr 23:29-35). He has woe, sorrow, contentions, babbling, and wounds from his binges. He loses his job, his driving license, his wife, his children, and his reputation. He gets sick and feels as if he spent the night lying on the top of a ship’s mast. Yet he says, “When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” Fool! Dog!
Ahab repented and walked humbly before the Lord – for a few minutes. Then he rushed back to his vomit and was killed (I Kgs 21:27-29; 22:8). Pharaoh begged Moses for respite and promised to let Israel go. But as soon as he felt relief, he hardened his heart and returned to his stubborn folly (Ex 8:15). How many times did God forgive and deliver Israel, and then watch them rush back to pagan vomit (Ps 78:33-42)?
Dear reader, what filth have you vomited up and cast away by the grace of God and the conviction of His Spirit? What folly have you rejected? You will be tempted to return to it. Which vomit tempts you? Complaining? Pornography? Ungodly music? Drunkenness? Lustful fantasies? Gluttony? Television? Bitterness? Fornication? Disobedience to parents? Marital defrauding? An unscriptural church? Lack of submission? Backbiting?
There can be no partial turning from sin. It never works. It never will work. You can still smell the vomit, and you will turn to it again. Reader, you must flee your temptations and sins with all your might and speed. You must eliminate the sources of the temptation. You must completely satisfy your appetite with spiritual things, so you have no hunger for vomit. There are no shortcuts. If you hang around the filth, you will take it up again.
If a dog had a conscience, it would be ashamed of its vile nature. But what about human sinners? Their return to defiling sin is worse. Where is their shame? They will soon have everlasting shame and contempt, unless saved by the Lord Jesus Christ (Dan 12:2).
Only by God’s grace and the gift of repentance can a man be saved from his folly and the snare of Satan (II Tim 2:25-26). If you have the least degree of conviction about any sin at this moment, repent immediately and take drastic measures to rid your life of that folly. Flee to Jesus Christ. Perhaps the grace of God will save you from that sin today.
Say with the psalmist, “I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly” (Ps 85:8). Hear the warning of the Lord Jesus Christ to a lame man that He healed, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (John 5:14).