Proverbs 17: 15-28….Who is a fool?

15. He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the LORD.
16. Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom
when he has no sense?
17. A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
18. One who lacks sense gives a pledge
and puts up security in the presence of his neighbour.
19. Whoever loves transgression loves strife;
he who makes his door high seeks destruction.
20. A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.
21. He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow,
and the father of a fool has no joy.
22. A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23. The wicked accepts a bribe in secret
to pervert the ways of justice.
24. The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
25. A foolish son is a grief to his father
and bitterness to her who bore him.
26. To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good,
nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.
27. Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
28. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Comment: The word ‘fool’ or ‘foolish’ occurs 6 times in this group of proverbs; and many more times in the book of proverbs. It is worth thinking about what the word fool means as it is used to cover different characteristics.

  • In number 16 it seems to infer that some one who is already set in his foolishness is wasting his money if he tries to buy wisdom as his underlying problem is that he lacks sense. By paying for lessons and in buying books you may be able to buy information and increase knowledge but the important issue is wisdom. This fool lacks sense and cannot convert knowledge into wisdom. This is one of the secrets of becoming wise.
  • In number 21 the term is used to describe the offspring whom some fathers sire – their sons (children) are fools. In our modern academic age there is a great emphasis on genetics and if this is the only factor involved, you can argue that the foolish son reflects the combined character of his father and mother because of the genes from which he has been built. But training or lack therefore can also play a large part. And here the parents have to accept a lot of responsibility. But then as children grow up they make choices and we often see foolish rebellious kids from loving caring parents and outstanding citizens from far from ideal parents. No matter what the cause foolish progeny don’t bring joy to their parents.
  • In number 24 the choice seems to be between the wise choosing wisdom or of the fool constantly looking into the distance and failing to get on with living. Maybe ‘the ends of the earth’ is looking for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or a desire to travel the world and pile up experiences but not get on with the business of daily living. Effort and commitment are necessary and basic to gaining wisdom. In addition we must see that success means much more than becoming rich. True wisdom is to be chosen above riches!
  • Number 25 seems to repeat 21. Maybe because training the next generation is so essential. A training in which both parents play an even larger part than schooling does.
  • Number 28 says that you are better to shut up and hide your ignorance than speak up and prove your foolish state.
  • But in several places in the Bible the height of foolishness is to chose to believe there is no God, a choice which allows you to do what you want to and not what you should.

Prayer: Unimportant maybe; passed over maybe but let me never be a fool! Pease.

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