8 Like tying a stone in a sling
is the giving of honor to a fool.
9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand
is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who wounds at random
is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.
What is the purpose of honor? It is the recognition of accomplishment, the expression of respect, the fulfillment of obligation. Those who have earned it are encouraged and strengthened by honor, but what about those who haven’t? Stones are put into slings to be thrown, but what of the stone that is tied? Its purpose is thwarted, it is a danger only to the one who swings it. The same goes for undeserved honor; instead of lifting up it puffs up, instead of strength it perpetuates weakness. Do not withhold honor from the deserving, and do not grant it to the unfit.
“Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.” The drunkard is numb to the thorns he grasps, they pierce him but he doesn’t care. Neither does he bother to examine the bush and find a clear handhold, the blood on his hands reveals his rashness. So it is with the fool and the proverb. He also is ignorant to what he takes hold of, and makes no effort to investigate it. He may know the words but he does not understand how to apply them, speaking them only further reveals his foolishness.
“Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires any fool or passer by.” Taking aim can be difficult, but shooting arrows indiscriminately is a lot more work. If you have a goal in mind, it is best to focus your efforts and wait for the right opportunities. The goal of archery is to hit what you aim at, just as the goal of hiring is to match skill with opportunity. Great satisfaction comes to those who are prudent, but frustration and exhaustion is the outcome of sloppiness.