There are those subjects in the Proverbs that are addressed many times – like speech, the use of the tongue. There are also subjects that are mentioned seldom and sporadically – like “quarreling.” It’s mentioned twice in chapter seventeen (and twice in chapter 26).
There are those who like nothing better than a good fight, but the conflict is dangerous. It’s like playing with fire – or a loaded gun. I’ve known people who like to play “devil’s advocate,” but while they say they are in it for the discussion, before you know it, something is said that cannot be taken back – like the breaking of a dam (17:14). They do not seem to understand that stirring things up is neither honorable (20:3) nor sound in judgment (18:1).
Solomon also advises minding your own business and not getting involved in the quarrels of others. He says it is like grabbing a stray dog by the ears (26:17).
The proverbs about quarreling provide us an identifier. When you meet a person who seems to have a knack for stirring up trouble, take note of them. It’s likely this is not their only grievous and destructive trait (29:22). Like the “mocker,” they have little patience with anyone who tries to correct them and attempts to help them will fail (19:19). This goes against the grain for many of us. We’d like to believe everyone is redeemable, but Solomon says “no.” Some people simply cannot be helped.
Lest you think all these are just bad people, you should know there are those (I’ve met them) who are so lonely they feel the only way they can arrest the time and attention of others is to pick a quarrel. They will argue about anything – just to get a little of your time. They never seem to realize that the very thing they hope will bring them company is precisely what isolates them.