God’s Word for You
Proverbs 26:17 Someone who grabs a wild dog by the ears
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, February 13, 2020
17 Like someone who grabs a wild dog by the ears
is one who meddles in someone else’s quarrel.
The Hebrew text only says “dog,” not “wild dog,” but most of the dogs in the Scriptures are not the friendly and loyal pets that sleep at our feet. Even Job’s sheep dogs (Job 30:1) were probably more savage than the animals we know today; closer to wolf than puppy. One exception might be the dogs under the master’s table in the account of the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:27-28). But for the most part, the dogs throughout the Bible are generally wild animals, or half-tame at best. Clearly the trouble with grabbing such an animal by the ears is that you are safe only as long as you have the strength to hang on; the moment you tire, it will bite and tear you to pieces. So it is with one who meddles in a quarrel not his own. He will quickly find that by wading in between two who quarrel, he has made himself two enemies at once. Clearly this meddler does not belong; what he is doing is making everything worse.
Anyone can apply this proverb to everyday life. By doing so, we would show that we have just a little bit of wisdom and insight. But Solomon didn’t write this for just everyday life; he wrote it for the benefit of our godly wisdom and for the good of our souls. This proverb reminds us that only a man who steps into a quarrel without meddling, with peace in his hands, can do any good. This is what Christ has done for us. Christ shows us the meaning of the word Mediator, or go-between. “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant” (Hebrew 9:15). We know this, and this is where all our comfort comes from. But the proverb says more than this. The proverb reminds us that there is no other source of comfort than our true Mediator, Jesus Christ. Anyone else who tries to meddle in the great quarrel is not from God; anyone else who meddles is from the devil.
The “great quarrel” is the problem of sin that lies between the human race and our holy God. “With you (O God), the wicked cannot dwell” (Psalm 5:4). When man sins, he becomes guilty (Leviticus 6:4); and his guilt cannot be carried away by anything that man does. Therefore, God and man stand opposed to one another: God who is holy cannot allow what is sinful to approach him. Man, who is sinful, cannot approach God. But “there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ. (1 Timothy 2:5). This is the gospel of salvation through Christ alone, and it isn’t something that comes as a surprise to us. It’s what Christians have known about all our lives. What our proverb warns about is when some interloper comes and sticks his nose in where it doesn’t belong. This is anyone who lures Christians away from Christ. In past centuries, Christians were attacked in this way by false teachers. Some tried to deceive us by concocting a story about an evil god, as powerful as the true God, elevating Satan to a position he has never had (Manicheism, Gnosticism). Some tried to deceive us by urging us to rely on ourselves for salvation rather than on Christ alone (Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism). Some tried to tempt us to pray to others for help and comfort rather than to Jesus. Even though they told us to invoke the saints, or even the Virgin Mary, all they did was turn Christ into an angry, moody god who is not merciful and who is the enemy of man. This is not who Jesus is at all. Today there are those who want us to think that sin isn’t sinful, that there are other ways to heaven apart from Jesus, and that the teachings of the Bible are subject to change or interpretation. These are all enemies of the true gospel. We must watch out for them and keep away from them (Romans 16:17). They have wandered into a quarrel that is not their own. In the end, they will be torn to pieces because of their meddling. But as for us, we have the true Mediator Jesus Christ on our side. He will shake off the meddlers, assuage the anger of the Father over our sins, and show us that his own blood covers the guilt of our sins. Trust in him always. Through him, you have the guarantee of everlasting life.
Pastor Timothy Smith