At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the earsProverbs 26:17
One of the things that proverbs require from us is the arduous task of thinking things through. The proverbs come to us in the form of general truths, and we rarely find one that says “always turn right, no exceptions.” We are told, rather to answer a fool according to his folly to keep him from becoming wise in his own conceits (Prov. 26:5), and we are also told not to answer him that way lest we run the risk of becoming like him (Prov. 26:4). Clearly, we are supposed to judge which way we are supposed to go based on the circumstances.
In this proverb we learn that there are troubles and disputes that are none of our business, and they remain none of our business even after we become aware of their existence. It should remind us of the cartoon of the husband who can’t come to bed yet because “someone is wrong on the Internet.” If a husband and wife start quarreling in the checkout line ahead of you, it would seem that this would be a good time to apply this proverb. If you intervene on the lady’s behalf, let us say, you will find that both of them wheel on you. When you take a passing dog by the ears, you are simply creating an entirely new situation. You might know exactly what it would take to make everything better, but that does not mean that your intervention would make anything better.
But clearly this is not a one-size-fits all situation. If the man ahead of you physically attacks the woman, and punches her, then you have a clear responsibility not to stay out of it. If the Good Samaritan had arrived on the scene of the robbery while it was taking place, what would his responsibility have been then?
Let Scripture interpret Scripture, and always remember which are the weightier matters of the law.