“Wisdom is too high for a fool…” – Proverbs 24:7a
You probably already know that a proverb is not a promise; it’s a general truth leading to general results. For instance, wringing a nose doesn’t always lead to blood, but you run the risk if you try it; and anger, uncalled for, likely as not, will lead to an argument between friends (30:33). Generally speaking, Proverbs is about two different groups of people: wise and foolish. It tells us how they act and think. You’ll find the word “fool” thirty-six times in the book, by my count. I want to comment on just five of those times. Our son, Andrew, touched on these in a recent message of his I was privileged to hear; and I thought to myself, These are too important not to share. I’ll wager you haven’t heard a sermon on them too recently.
“It is as sport to a fool to do mischief…” (10:23)
A fool treats sin as a game. In some cases, they even keep score. Like notches on a belt, they brag about how often they’re able to cheat, steal, lie, and get by with it. Of course, only a fool would think hidden sin is forgotten sin. There’s always a payday. I would also add to this category those Christians—even preachers—who joke to others about past sins. It was sin that caused the death of Christ on the Cross. Sin, past or present, is not a game and not a joke.
“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” (26:11)
A fool keeps returning to the same sin. As the old saying goes, “There’s no fool like an old fool.” I’ve heard my husband counsel someone who had fallen into a sin, “The worst experience you ever had will work for your good…if you learn from it.” A wise man or woman will track the place and occasion of the sin and avoid it like the plague. For some, it may take a time or two to “wise-up,” but a fool never learns.
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes…” (12:15)
A fool is never wrong. At least, as far as he or she is concerned. They will justify themselves to the last breath and argue against any and all reason. In a culture where “right” is what you think is right, this kind of narcissistic foolishness is free to flourish. As believers, you and I may disagree on secondary doctrines, church service procedures, or debatable personal standards; but when it comes to central doctrines, biblical worship, and undisputable Christian conduct, there is only God’s right. And only a fool insists on his or her own.
“A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.” (14:16)
A fool is reckless and careless. Some people are ready to risk the safety of themselves and others as a show of “faith.” But, again, as the old saying goes, “There’s a difference between faith and foolishness.” The will of God may lead us into precarious places, but the purpose will warrant the risk, and the outcome will justify the faith. The wise man or woman lives smack dab in the middle of the will of God…not on the edge.
“The fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” (18:2)
Fools cannot get over themselves. Some people have turned self-analysis into a fine art. Questions like, “Who am I?” “What am I really supposed to be doing?” “Why do I do the things I do?”…etc.…etc., are fine for awhile, but after awhile, their sincerity sounds hollow. I would suggest that humility is not thinking less of oneself but less about oneself. I read somewhere, “He who is all wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.” If you and I would be wise, we should follow Solomon’s advice: “Get over yourself!”
There you have it. Five of the many fools in Proverbs. If you’re like me, it made you a little uncomfortable. But if it makes us do something about it, it’s worth the discomfort, right? But to just slough it off? Only a fool would do that.