Like a madman who throws
Firebrands, arrows and death,
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 (it’s YOUR fault). But, in the above Proverb, the person caught in his deception has an even worse “defense” – trying to get out of it by saying “I was just kidding”.
If he had not gotten caught, he would have simply kept silent because he was “getting away with it”. But he got caught, possibly in a way where he could not the blame back on the victim. In this case his escape is to pretend it was a joke. The reason he is like a madman who just hurls destruction (firebrands, arrows, death) is that he not only hurts someone (through deception) but adds “insult to injury” by trying through a transparent attempt to pretend it was not intentional.
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 – a bit insane, like a “madman” – for him to think 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.