Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
If you have ever seen a dog slurp up its own vomit, you will not need to be reminded what a disgusting sight it is! We will not dwell on this part of the verse.
Rather, we will move on to ask the question: how is a fool who repeats his folly like that dog? To the righteous, repeated acts of foolishness are just as disgusting. Have you ever said or thought something like, “By now, he or she should know better?” or “You would think that he would have learned by now?” or “What is wrong with her?” This is a good illustration of how folly is not a matter of the intellect but of the heart. Really smart people can do foolish things…. again and again and again. Such behavior is disgusting (and sad) to watch, particularly in loved ones.
As with all Proverbs, the goal is not merely to point out the folly of the fool. The goal is also to stimulate the wise to increase in wisdom. What can the wise learn from Fido and the Fool? One lesson is that old habits die hard. People can get themselves into foolish patterns of behavior that are exceedingly difficult to break.
The wise person will recognize places and people who tend to cause him to stumble. The wise person will say, “Don’t go there.” The “not going there” might be figurative, but it also might be literal. It is foolish to put ourselves in situations where it is easy for us to sin. Not going back to our vomit may mean not going back to places and people who tempt us and lead us to sin. When those places and people are unavoidable the full armor of God needs to be strapped on particularly firmly.
Jesus forgave Peter for his three denials. Peter had acted foolishly again and again, yet Jesus loved him and restored him. If you have ever acted foolishly in the same way more than once—and we all have—then know that there is forgiveness. Jesus forgives the same sins many times—indeed each time we commit them.
Having said that though, remember that Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. We need to ask the Lord to empower us not to repeat our foolish behaviors over and over again. We need to make use of wise principles and means of grace that will enable us to avoid sinful behaviors that are not only disgusting in our eyes, but also in His.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dan Kunkle. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org