Proverbs 26:17 (NLT)
Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.
Going back to our previous Dose about the dog vomit, it is important to remember that dogs “back in the day” were not like your sweet “Spot” or cuddly “Lady.” If you pull a modern, domesticated dog’s ears you will most likely elicit a yelp or a whine…and perhaps some glaring disapproval from anyone else that witnesses the act. Not exactly a big threat, in most cases. But as Professor Michael Zigarelli points out:
“If we read this verse in cultural context…the admonition is far more compelling. Dogs were not pets in the ancient Near East, but rather wild animals, like jackals. If we were to grab such a beast by the ears, we would be in mortal danger indeed. In this light, the warning takes on a much greater urgency than if we mentally transport Fifi to 900 B.C.”
Solomon is reminding us that sticking our noses into other people’s conflicts virtually guarantees us (and others) a significant amount of pain and suffering…and the dog will not like it, either. Why do so many of us feel the need to stick our noses where they don’t belong? Why do we find it so hard to remain on the sidelines when we encounter a dispute that has nothing to do with us? The reasons paint a pretty bleak picture of fallen humanity.
It could be pride…as we think we know what’s best in any given situation. It could be self-righteousness…as we pontificate down to the involved parties. It could be judgmentalism…as we assume to know the intents of their hearts. It could be idolatry…as we take the position of authority. Whatever sin is driving our unwarranted involvement, we need to recognize it for the rebellion it is and turn from it.
It is important to note that there are indeed times when we must come to someone else’s defense, especially if they are being abused in any way, but that is usually not the case. If the argument has nothing to do with you, then “walk on by” as the old song goes. In doing so you will stay out of harm’s way.