Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the backs of fools!
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him. Proverbs 26:2-4
I love the book of Proverbs. This first verse above has ministered to me numerous times. I’m subject to criticism. You are too. Isn’t it strange that sometimes those who try to actually do something with their lives are those who become the object of the greatest criticism? Those who never rock the boat and float gently along on the sea of life are not targets; those who try to get out of the boat and walk on water become the targets of criticism.
There’s no way we can totally avoid criticism; it’s a part of life. But we can learn to deal with it. The above verse brings to mind a picture of two different birds: the sparrow and the swallow. I’m reminded of a couple of things about the sparrow: it’s common. So’s criticism. Sparrows also are familiar to almost everyone worldwide; so’s criticism. Sparrows tend to flutter around, aimlessly wandering without a destination. Criticism can be the same way! Some people criticise just to make themselves seem important- not because they actually intend to hurt another person. Even though there are things we can truly learn from criticism from a friend (because wounds from a friend can be trusted,) undeserved curses cannot find a resting place on you, child of God!
Now about the swallow: it has an elongated body that helps it dart — move quickly through the air in a pointed way toward its object — usually food! It’s learned to eat while moving, actually. The swallow darts toward its objective — like criticism! The swallow is also fast in flight, with sudden movements and turns — just like criticism!
I think it interesting that in the first verse above the writer uses two very different little birds to describe criticism and how it cannot rest on us. The sparrow is a wanderer and his flight pattern fluttery and without direction, and yet it still tries to light upon us. The swallow is quick and darting, determined and pointed in its direction — and yet it too tries to find a resting place upon us. But God says no! Don’t let undeserved criticism attach itself to your back — whether it’s wandering and given to a whole group and you just happen to be in the party being attacked — or whether it’s pointed and directed at you as a personal dart. No! Don’t let it rest.
The final verse above gives us an admonition not to respond to our critics. Or we become just like them.