Proverbs 20:3 Dissected & Defined
It is an honour (esteem) for a man to cease (break away) from strife (contention): but every fool (one who knows right but chooses wrong) will be meddling (interfering).
Solomon is giving us some very good words of wisdom here. He is telling us that we will never get ahead by trying to win an argument.
Pride Causes Contention
Solomon explained in Proverbs 13:10 that the only thing that causes contention is pride. Wherever there is pride, there is strife. He tells us that if we “walk away” from contentious fools that we will be honored.
Of course, there are many passages in the Bible that explain how God honors those who humbly reject the proud. We can conclude, then, that when we face the contentious, the Spirit’s only alternative in leading us will be to prompt us to walk away.
Exercising Humility by Walking Away
If we are willing to reject our selfish desire to contend with the contentious, we will be exercising humility. God has promised great reward to those who are willingly humbled.
The benefit listed here for “walking away” is esteem. Esteem means “to be lifted up.” It could mean something as simple as looking good, glorifying God, or an actual promotion in your life’s work. Honor manifests itself in many ways, but it takes humility to gain it!
Contrast of the Honourable and Contentious
Solomon contrasts the honorable man who breaks away from the contentious man with a foolish man who continues until he meddles and interferes. Please realize that contention and meddling are two different things. Contentions are “argumentative strife.” However, meddling is “interfering in the life of another.”
So our wise teacher is telling us that humble people walk away from arguments, but the fool does not give up that easily. Rather, he will continue to argue until he has interfered with you personally. Now remember, a fool is “someone who knows what right, but chooses to wrong.” Thus, this contentious meddler is intentionally meddling!