Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears. ~Proverbs 26:17 ESV
Have you ever encountered a stray dog? Even one small in stature can be very threatening when feeling defensive. But even if the animal is not all stirred up, grabbing it by the ears is not wise, because experience proves you’re likely to be bitten.
In this verse, the Lord compares interfering in someone else’s argument to a foolish – and potentially dangerous – interaction with an unknown animal. You don’t know the temperament of a stray dog. Perhaps the animal is calm and passive. But just as likely, the dog may feel threatened, and be very aggressive. Grabbing hold of a dog by the ears just isn’t a smart thing to do.
In the same way, stepping in between people who are arguing is not wise. Law enforcement officers know that responding to a domestic dispute is one of the most dangerous calls they can get. Why? Because when a third-party begins to interfere, both participants in the argument can, and often do, unite to confront the interloper. Suddenly, a responding police officer can become the target of the violence.
But police get paid to interfere in disputes. It’s their job, and they are trained in techniques that allow them to separate the participants without coming to harm.
You probably have a choice when you see a dispute taking place. Of course, if someone is in pysical danger, you should do what you can to prevent violence. But unless the quarrel really is yours, the wisest course of action may be to stay on the sidelines. Staying out of the fray may protect you from being bitten, figuratively speaking.