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The Fool and His Vomit

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

Proverbs 26:11

The reason it is not courteous to bring up the idea of vomit in polite society is because vomit, by its very nature, is uncouth and disgusting. I don’t remember a time in my life when our family did not own a dog. Added to that is the fact that for most of my childhood and into adulthood my dad owned a business in which he worked with dogs on a daily basis, and I had the pleasure of helping him – a lot. For those reasons, I have observed dogs of all shapes, sizes, breeds, and mannerisms. What I have noticed in each one is the same repugnant habit. After they vomit, they will inevitably return to the spot of the offence and – look away for a second if you are squeamish – begin to eat the foul substance that, minutes before, had ascended from the dark depths of an intestine that, quite frankly, it should never have left. Perhaps you, like me, have wondered why a dog would possibly do something so hideous. It turns out that a dog’s esophagus is just the right size to measure the food going into the stomach so as not to throw off the ratio of food needing-to-be-digested to stomach acid that can digest it. If a dog eats portions of food that are too large, it will send it back up for greater mastication.

The purpose of the Bible’s comparison of a dog and his vomit to a fool and his folly is to show the disgusting nature of both. Yes, it is nauseating to picture such a wretch-inducing act as a dog returning to eat his own vomit, but it is just as reprehensible for a fool to return to his folly. Part of the makeup of a fool is the propensity to return to his folly. It is one thing to make a mistake and sin; it is quite another thing altogether to return again and again to that sin. Yet, that is the definition of a fool. Call it a lack of maturity if you will, but young men, in particular, (though anyone can fall into that category) have a natural bent toward foolishness that shows itself in many forms. The spectrum of folly ranges in scope from doing some not-completely-thought-through acts to impress a young lady to returning again and again to a besetting sin. Either end of the spectrum is still foolishness, and so is everything in between. One of the aspects of maturing is moving from those acts of foolishness into a thought process that knows how to deny selfish tendencies to avoid the pitfalls of a fool. Next time you are tempted to do something that you know is not right, think of a dog eating his own vomit, and let the folly disgust you just the same.

Read also: Proverbs 26:10-12

Quote of the day: “Experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other. – Ben Franklin

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