Proverb 26:9 — A Right Thorny Situation!

Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

This wise saying offers an unusual contrast!
“A thornbush in a drunkard’s hand” sounds pretty extreme. Admittedly, just a “thorn in a drunkard’s hand” is also a possible translation. But, either way, it’s going to be painful! 
Growing up in the Midwest and Eastern US, I didn’t have much appreciation for thorns. When I started digging in the Holy Land over 2 decades ago, I received a crash course! They were everywhere…and very big…and really hurt!

The thorn(bush) in this guy or gals’ hand could be a real hindrance. Good use of both hands was essential for the average Israelite to accomplish their essential daily chores in antiquity.

And, while such a thorny experience could be an epiphany for this person, chances are it won’t. In fact, far more likely is the possibility of an even great problem later on – infection!  

While one might want to make the case for the antiseptic value of alcohol poured on the wound, that’s not how this person applied it! And maybe the analgesic effects of ingested alcohol helps a little with the pain.

But the message here is simple. A drunkard will already be impaired from using his or her hand effectively and the thorn only makes matters worse – for the present and in the future.

This situation is then contrasted with “a proverb in the mouth of a fool.”

The drunkard’s hand will be pretty useless in doing the good things that need to be done. So an insightful word (“proverb”) in a fool’s mouth will accomplish very little good.

While the message might be appropriate, the messenger’s manner of life will consistently get in the way. Sort of reminds me of a modern wise saying – “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear a word you’re saying!”