18 Like a madman who throws
Firebrands, arrows and death,
19 So is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, “Was I not joking?”
A classic narcissist tactic is that when they are caught in a deception or some other maneuver, they quickly try to deflect blame back to the victim. (Deception is one of the prime tools in the narcissists’ toolkit (see here)). Often the deceiver will tell their victim, “you misunderstood me” – in effect blaming the victim for the problem. But, in the above case, the person caught in his deception has an even worse “defense”, trying to get out of it by saying “I was just kidding”.
In the above proverb:
- Madman = man who deceives, gets caught, and thinks he can slide out from under the problem by simply saying “just kidding”
- Firebrands, arrows, and death = deceiving (hurting) his neighbor + and adding “insult to injury” by trying to pretend he did not with a totally lame excuse.
- The man deceived his neighbor – the reason for doing it is not stated
- He got caught in his deception. If he had not gotten caught, he would have kept silent because he was “getting away with it”
- He needed to come up with some excuse. In this case he said “I was just joking”. Often, narcissists say “you misunderstood me” (ie – it’s YOUR fault)
- The proverb calls this person like a madman who just hurls destruction (firebrands, arrows, death) at others. Very destructive but also pretty insane in what he is doing and how he is going about it. How can someone who intentionally deceives someone close to them (neighbor), and gets caught in the deception, possibly think that he can get out of the trouble he is in simply by saying “just kidding”? It’s not rational (ie – a bit insane) that he thinks that he can escape with such a lame excuse.
*Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible describes as “insolent pride”. See here for a further explanation.