This passage is about the destructive power of gossip and quarrelsomeness. The author uses the metaphor of fire to illustrate the harmful effects of these behaviors. The passage emphasizes the importance of avoiding gossip and quarrelsomeness in order to maintain healthy relationships and avoid causing harm to others.
The first verse, "For lack of wood a fire goes out. Without gossip, a quarrel dies down," suggests that just as a fire needs fuel to continue burning, a quarrel needs gossip to continue fueling it. If we refuse to engage in gossip, we can help to prevent quarrels from escalating. Similarly, if we avoid being quarrelsome ourselves, we can prevent conflicts from arising in the first place.
The second verse, "As coals are to hot embers, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindling strife," reinforces this idea by comparing a quarrelsome person to fuel for a fire. The author is suggesting that someone who is always looking for a fight or stirring up conflict is like a piece of wood or charcoal that can quickly ignite a flame. This metaphor is a warning against the destructive power of quarrelsomeness and a reminder to be mindful of our own behavior.
The final verse, "The words of a whisperer are as dainty morsels, they go down into the innermost parts," highlights the allure of gossip. The author is suggesting that gossip can be tempting, like a tasty treat that is hard to resist. However, just like unhealthy food can harm our bodies, gossip can harm our relationships and our sense of self. The metaphor of "going down to the inmost parts" suggests that gossip can have a deep and lasting impact on our emotional well-being.
Taken together, Proverbs 26:20-22 is a warning against the harmful effects of gossip and quarrelsomeness. The passage emphasizes the importance of avoiding these behaviors in order to maintain healthy relationships and avoid causing harm to others. The metaphor of fire is used to illustrate how these behaviors can quickly escalate and cause damage, much like a fire that burns out of control. The passage is a reminder to be mindful of our words and actions, to resist the temptation of gossip, and to cultivate a peaceful and harmonious approach to our relationships.
Proverbs 26:20-22. For lack of wood a fire goes out. Without gossip, a quarrel dies down. As coals are to hot embers, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are as dainty morsels, they go down into the innermost parts.