Day 18: The way of the fool (18:2)
“A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.”
or “Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse; all they do is run off at the mouth” (MSG). It has been said that the world can be divided into three camps: fools, villains and the good guys and all of us take in elements from each, in varying proportions. For Solomon, there are just two categories: the fools (that also included villains (or the wicked)) and the wise (i.e. the good guys). One major theme of Proverbs was to present the stark choice we all need to make between following the way of foolishness and that of wisdom, giving numerous, graphic examples of what each entail and the outcomes of our choices. 78 of the 189 references to “fool” in the Bible are found in the Book of Proverbs. Clearly, the way wisdom is the one to be commended and it begins with the fear of the Lord. In today’s text we see one of many examples of how the fool acts and one no doubt we have observed and perhaps have been guilty of, setting out our own erroneous opinions and shutting out any challenge that we could be wrong.
Further texts in this chapter, specifically citing the fool, his ways and his end are: “A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself … A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul” (18:2,6-7). Other examples of foolish behaviour are: “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster” (18:8,9). Then we see foolish and wise behaviour and their consequences contrasted: “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility. He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (16:12,13). But wisdom always wins through: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe … The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge” (8:10,15). After laying down the challenge of following the way of wisdom, we end our thought for today with some NT wisdom as to how me might now proceed: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open” (James 1:5-8 MSG).
Prayer: Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways. Thank you that the way of the wise and the way of the fool have been so clearly set out in your Word. May we ever choose the way of wisdom and look to you for it.