"Like snow in summer and rain at harvest, honor is inappropriate for a fool" -Proverbs 26:1
Some things are improper, unsuitable, incongruous, tasteless...just plain wrong. Some years ago, my wife and I were invited to a party where everyone was encouraged to dress up as old people. Don't ask me why. I just remember that we and some of our friends decided to really go for it (yes, to look older than we actually are). Out of style clothes, make up to look ancient, stuffing to look rather disheveled. It was all in good taste (sort of), but when we showed up, it appeared no one else got the message, or decided to ignore it. We were the only ones dressed rather weird. Everyone else wore normal attire, and as the evening wore on, we found ourselves terribly out of place--left to convalesce in another room dedicated to assisted living .
The sage is saying something similar here. When it comes to giving honor where honor and weight are due, it is most unfitting to honor those who carry no weight. Putting a fool in a position of honor--like, say, uh president of the United States--is highly inappropriate (which may explain a lot of our nation's angst!). It would be turning the world upside down, where things are suddenly topsy-turvy. It just doesn't fit. As the sage puts it, it would be as incongruous as snow in summer, which, in arid Palestine, would be totally unexpected and wildly out of place. In our context we might say it would be like an actual sunny day during Rose Festival week in Portland, or the Chargers holding on to a lead (urggghh!). More than out of place, it would be as damaging as rain in harvest. Honoring a fool...this would be as ridiculous as watching someone bind a stone in a sling and whirl it round and round without catapulting it (vs 8). Who knows what will happen.
It's all part of a chapter devoted to describing things that just do not mix. Foolish behavior and wisdom do not mix either. You may as well try to blend oil and water. It is lame to teach proverbs to idiots (vs 7). They will use these distilled observations of life to do really stupid things--like turn them into unconditional promises. This is what happens when proverbs get into the hands of the health and wealth gospel crowd. All lathered up, their evangelists quote 3:9-10 as a guarantee of a full garage--so long as you honor the Lord by giving them your money. Foolish parents will quote the proverb. "Spare the rod and spoil the child," to justify abusive behavior. Moronic types will quote "No harm befalls the righteous" to judge those who are afflicted with disease and loss, much like Job's senseless and reckless friends did.
It is fair to say no book has suffered such hermeneutical abuse as Proverbs, meaning it has gotten into the hands of a lot of foolish preachers . The warning here is that proverbs that are misused, misinterpreted, manipulated and misapplied can lead to real damage. This is why, in the same context, the sage warns that a proverb in the mouth of the fool is like a drunkard with a dangerous weapon (v. 9). Who knows the havoc about to be unleashed.
On the other side, honor is fitting for the one who gives oneself to the disciplines of wisdom. It's like snow in winter and rain in the spring. These are the ones who carry weight. Their acts are timely, always in season. They launch their stones to their rightful targets. Their words inspire to greatness. In the mouth of the wise, proverbs are like goads that prod us into action; like nails that anchor things into place (Ecc 12:11).