Even a Genius Can Be A Fool.
Hey everyone. Before we close out our study of Proverbs (next week), I want to share a few comments about fools. In modern English, they are people who lack brains. But the word has a different meaning in the Bible. Notice how “fools” compare with “the simple” and with “scorners” . . .
“The simple” live without thinking and are too lazy to change.
“Fools” have more smarts but have made a conscious decision to live by their own enlightenment, independent of God and independent of advice.
“Scorners” are rebels against God who make their prideful position known to everyone.
One of the Bible’s worst insults is calling someone a fool. People become fools by ignoring the wisdom God offers them, preferring to follow the crowd or their own conceited opinions. They may think themselves very clever, but their cleverness will land them in trouble.
The book of Proverbs aims it sharpest warnings, not against acting immorally, but against becoming a fool. A wise person ought to learn to recognize a fool and stay out of his or her path.
What about Proverbs 26:4, 5?
Don’t answer fools when they speak foolishly,
or you will be just like them.
Answer fools when they speak foolishly,
or they will think they are really wise. (New Century Version)
Question #5 from yesterday’s reading dealt with the apparent contradiction between Proverbs 26:4 and 5. I think it can be best resolved by remembering Ecclesiastes 3:7b (“. . . a time to be silent and a time to speak” ). As seen throughout Proverbs, discernment and wisdom are once again key:
(1) In some situations there is nothing to be gained in answering a fool in his own manner. One Biblical example we could cite is when Sennacherib (the king of Assyria) threatened Jerusalem (via his field commander) . . .
31 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!
“Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”
36 But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.” – 2 Kings 18:31 – 36 (2 Kings 18:17 – 37 for the full context)
(2) And there may be occasions when to permit a fool to go unrefuted would confirm him in his conceit . . .
Job’s Wife (Job 2:7 – 10)
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolishwoman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Nehemiah’s Reply To Sanballat (Nehemiah 6:5 – 9)
5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written:
“It is reported among the nations—and Geshemsays it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”
8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”