Proverbs 26:3

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.

Play Audio:

Words do not work with some men. They need a beating instead. They are fools, and part of wisdom is learning how to deal with them. Just as some animals need bridles and whips to control or direct them, some men need harsher methods than mere words.

You will meet fools in your life, so you must learn to adapt to their brute mentality. They only respond to force or pain. Though you may love gentleness and peace, you will have to take aggressive measures to protect yourself or to get them to do anything productive.

You think you can talk wisdom into a fool? How would you do it? Fools do not learn by words; they will not. That is why they are fools. Learning by words requires intelligence and humility. Fools have little of the former and none of the latter. They must be controlled by physical constraints and punishments like brute beasts (Pr 10:13; 19:29).

Words are wasted on a fool (Pr 26:4; 23:9). So only talk long enough to rebuke his ignorance, lest he arrogantly assume he is unanswerable (Pr 26:5). A reproof, “a word to the wise,” will work with a wise man more than a hundred blows on the back of a fool (Pr 17:10; 1:5). Be smart; choose only wise persons for your friends (Pr 9:6; 13:20; 14:7).

It is a shame our urban societies no longer need service from brute beasts like the horse and ass, for this proverb would need little explanation. Men that grew up on farms using these beasts learned to control and direct them with physical constraints and punishment. But PETA and the PTA have nearly stolen such wisdom from today’s “civilized” nations.

A whip or riding crop helps a horse remember training. A horse seeing its rider get on with one will behave better than for a rider without one, even if it is not used. The horse has felt the stinging whip before, so it obeys, though it has no understanding. Even fine horses by pedigree and training must be whipped in races to obtain their top performance.

A bridle is perfect to direct an ass, mule, or horse (Ps 32:9; Jas 3:3). A piece of metal against its lips reminds it to go in the direction the owner chooses, especially with the four feet of leverage the reins provide on either side. What a marvelous device! Men have been ingenious to create such devices for animals, and you will need to be so with fools.

Today’s so-called enlightened societies, encouraging punk rockers with pierced tongues to slam each other in mosh pits, thinks fools will become wise with pampering and a new environment. But every farmer, especially those lacking higher education, knows better. He knows that you cannot coddle and pamper stubborn, brute beasts into obedience.

Educators declare that gentle words will make a fool wise, but the wisdom of God says they are wasted words and will lead a fool to greater foolishness. For then he will think he is worthy of conversation, which he is not (Pr 26:5; II Tim 2:16,23; Titus 3:9). A fool will despise the wisdom of your words and then use them against you (Pr 23:9; Matt 7:6).

They say a new environment will make a fool wise, but the wisdom of God rejects this as well (Is 26:10). A washed sow in a manicured lawn will create its own mud for wallowing with urine and a flowerbed in less than an hour. A dog with manicured toenails, a pink bow around its neck, and gourmet cuts of meat will still eat its own vomit. God chose these as fitting pictures of a fool’s character (Pr 26:11; II Pet 2:22).

Educators propose that better education will make fools wise, but it was the institutions of higher learning that spawned the hippie anarchist fools of the 1970’s and the tree-hugging, family-breaking, baby-aborting anarchist fools of today. The flattering and pampering educational protocol of today’s schools actually creates and multiplies fools.

Socialists suggest better jobs and more money make a difference. But you would never know by watching the fools among today’s actresses and athletes. Multi-million dollar salaries for playing boys’ games have not taught them wisdom. Some are no smarter than the animals mentioned in the proverb, in spite of exorbitant incomes and lavish lifestyles.

Love and affection are not right for a fool, for they will inflame his conceit and justify his perverse lifestyle. Fools should not be given honor or attention, for these two reasons make it wrong (Pr 26:1,8; 19:10; 30:21-23; Eccl 10:5-7). Giving esteem and respect to a fool is also a sure way to discourage the hearts of wise men observing such a disgrace.

It is a shame when so-called Christian authors write books like, “Dare to Discipline.” Considered by some a strong argument for child discipline, it presented the pampering of children and promotion of self-esteem under the guise of Christianity. Humanistic psychology rejects the rod and calls for much gentler forms of punishment. Clearly, the authors never worked with brute beasts, and their methods have proven worthless.

Corporal punishment for fools is good, as necessary and useful as whips and bridles for brute beasts. To the degree it is eliminated in modern discipline-hating and rebellion-pampering societies, those nations will decline. Self-discipline taught by a rod is crucial to good character. This proverb alone should justify the Bible at the top of bestseller lists.

Flogging was once the universal means of keeping family, domestic, military, and academic discipline. The hickory stick was a great way to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Now you can hardly even find an accurate encyclopedia entry for this once widely used public punishment for all sorts of fools. Such revisionism is a devilish lie.

They say corporal punishment is not a deterrent, but such an insane notion is the product of academicians who never worked on a farm and hallucinate outside reality. Everyone knows pain is a deterrent. Children learn about fire and heat, weak branches in trees, and stairs by experiencing them. Not by learning about them through verbal instruction!

A whip does not make a horse smart, nor does a bridle help an ass; neither will a rod give wisdom to a fool (Pr 17:10; 27:22). The rod, like the whip and bridle, is merely God’s means to control, motivate, and punish fools. They will always need to be beat, as they will generally not learn wisdom, for they do not have the heart or mind for it (Pr 17:16).

Children are not properly fools in the sense of this proverb, but they are born with foolishness bound in their hearts (Pr 22:15). They must be trained from an early age with reproofs and use of the rod (Pr 13:24; 19:18; 23:13-14; 29:15,17). While fools proper will not learn wisdom, you can train outstanding character into your children with the rod.

Today nations have rejected the Bible and their own traditional use of the rod, so you do not have the option of beating the fools you must manage. Within the limits of any situation, you must be creative to use the strongest, most direct, most painful measures at your disposal. This proverb’s wisdom has taught that words will not be enough.

The Lord Jesus Christ was an obedient Son to His parents and Servant to God by verbal instruction (Luke 2:51; Isaiah 50:4-6). There was no need for a rod in His training, for He was the wisest of men. Yet He did know how to make a whip and use it, when driving fools from His Father’s house of prayer (Jn 2:12-18). What a glorious Man and Leader!