Have you met a fool recently?

Have you ever met a fool? How do you know when you’ve met a fool? In what follows, I’ve pulled together the descriptions given in Proverbs to provide a composite picture of what a fool is and does.*

A fool rejects his father’s discipline (Prov. 15:5), causes his father sorrow (Prov. 17:21), and robs him of joy (Prov. 17:21). He despises his mother (Prov. 15:2), is destruction to his father (Prov. 19:13), and is a grief and bitterness to both his parents (Prov. 10:1; 17:25).

He despises wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7), hates knowledge (Prov. 1:22, 29), and does not choose the fear of Yahweh (Prov. 1:29). He fails to act with knowledge (Prov. 13:16), has no heart for wisdom, even if he seeks it (Prov. 17:16), looks for wisdom in all the wrong places, and thus can’t find it (Prov. 17:24). He dies because of a lack of understanding (Prov. 10:21)

He trusts in his own heart (Prov. 28:26), refuses to listen to counsel (Prov. 12:15), and rejects reproof (Prov. 1:30). His way is right in his own eyes (Prov. 12:15). He won’t accept commands (Prov. 10:8), doesn’t learn from his mistakes (Prov. 26:11), and even a hundred stripes gives him less wisdom than a rebuke gives a wise man (Prov. 17:10).

His attitude is  complacent (Prov. 1:32), arrogant (Prov. 14:16), and careless (Prov. 14:16). He is quick to anger (Prov. 14:17) and quick to display his anger (Prov. 12:16). He is more angry than warranted (Prov. 27:3) and gives full vent to his anger (Prov. 29:11).

He babbles (Prov. 10:8, 10), delights in revealing his own mind (Prov. 18:2), spouts folly (Prov. 15:2), and proclaims his folly publicly (Prov. 12:23). He quarrels quickly (Prov. 20:3). In controversy he rages or laughs, i.e., he is unreasonable (Prov. 29:9). He spreads slander (Prov. 10:18) and mocks at sin (Prov. 14:9). He does not spread knowledge (Prov. 15:7) and cannot use a proverb properly (Prov. 26:7, 9). His words are a rod for his back (Prov. 14:3), bring strife (Prov. 18:6), call for blows (Prov. 18:6), are a snare for his soul (Prov. 18:7), and bring him to ruin (Prov. 10:8, 10, 14; 18:7). The only way he can appear wise is to be silent (Prov. 17:28).
He brings harm to his companions (Prov. 13:20). He’s more dangerous to others than a mother bear robbed of her cubs (Prov. 17:12).

He is not honorable (Prov. 3:35) and should not be honored (Prov. 26:1). If given honor, he will not retain it (Prov. 26:8).

The consequences of the fool’s choices are calamity (Prov. 1:26-27), destruction (Prov. 1:32), punishment (7:22), ruin (Prov. 10:8, 10, 14), death (Prov. 10:21), and the destruction of her own house (Prov. 14:1)

If you meet a fool, do not reason with him (Prov. 29:9). Do not imitate him (Prov. 26:4). Answer him in a way that stops him from being wise in his own eyes (Prov. 26:5). Leave his presence, for you will gain no knowledge there (Prov. 14:7)

“The root of [the fool’s] trouble is spiritual, not mental. He likes his folly ... (Prov. 26:11); he has no reverence for truth ... (Prov. 14:8). At bottom, what he is rejecting is the fear of the Lord (1:29): it is this that constitutes him a fool” (Kidner, Proverbs, 40).

There isn’t much hope for a fool, but there is some. There is more hope for a fool than for a man wise in his own eyes (Prov. 26:12). There is more hope for a fool than for a man who is hasty in his words (Prov. 29:20).

A word to the wise: don’t be a fool.

*The key terms used for this study were kesil, 'ivvelet, 'eviyl, and nabal.


Daniel Wilson said…
Powerful! Thanks for that.

Popular posts from this blog

Man looks at the outward appearance, but God ... 1 Sam. 16:7

Vows: foolish, sacred, forgivable?