Proverbs 25-29 lends itself to revealing or exposing the mindset of people outside the family of God; however family members are not exempt from such behavior. The warnings and instructions put forth by the Teacher gives common sense understanding to the ways of mankind without God. Proverbs 26 lists “fools” no less than 10 times. As I was reading it the thought came to mind where we’re are told “call no man a fool.” Imbecile is probably a better rendering of the fool person.; or someone who is stupid or idiotic. Those are harsh words to label someone with. Yet in our history as man, we have exhibited such a mentality and behavior. These Proverbs are packed full of everyday living advice. The proverbs are so packed with meaning and connotations for someone who is willing to dig into them beyond the mere words of the proverb. Reading the proverbs continually filled my mind with a simpler time or a time when reason and logic made sense and was applied to life situations. I wish I could say that today. I don’t know where common sense went, but it sure is in short demand.
Like it or not mankind is not created equal, as far as ability to rationally think and act. There are people who have limits of comprehension and intellect. This does not make them unhuman, but it does mean they will not necessarily have the where with all to grasp the intricate details of life. I know that sounds crass, but what I am trying to say is that people live life on different planes. Some live a surface or top-level life, others are more deep in thought, while others are fixated with life, meaning and trying to answer questions that nobody is asking. The topic of being a fool or acting foolish is exposed by the writer; the contrast between what a righteous person and how a worldly person think and behave is glaring. The advice to live life for more than mere daily existence is prevalent. I guess all of us have a tendency at times to think of the here and now and “what’s in it for me” attitude at times.
The Proverbs are wise saying from a sage person who has succeeded and failed in life. It is someone one who has learned life, not just lived life. The fool is a person that really only deceives himself, others can readily perceive the error of the thought and actions of the foolish person. There are many warnings to people not to deal or get caught up in the outlandish ways of the fool.
When reading these Proverbs the tool most readily identified with foolish behavior is the lips, mouth, and tongue. I think of what James tells us when he says a tongue is such a small instrument, yet can cause an uncontrollable fire. The writer is clearly admonishing us to watch what we say, but also when and how we say it. The words of a fool can shatter a person; the fool will not listen to anyone except themselves. Wisdom and foolishness are opposite outcomes of talking. Maybe that is why we are told to be slow to speak and swift to hear. But how are we to deal with people of such caliber? We cannot just dismiss them; we live among them! We dare not give ourselves over to their folly, for then we risk our own well-being. I think discernment the answer. Observe and know what kind of person you are dealing with – if they are foolish in their nature, reactionary instead of responding – separate ourselves from them. Titus 3:10 is solid advice for us. Do not let ourselves get pulled into another’s folly and unbelief in our sovereign God.