Foolish, Foolishness

 * Who is a “fool”?

The true atheist is either foolish or wicked—foolish because he ignores the evidence that God exists or wicked because he refuses to live by God’s truths.  We become atheists in practice when we rely more on ourselves than on God.  The fool mentioned here is someone who is aggressively perverse in his actions.  To speak in direct defiance of God is utterly foolish according to the Bible. (NLT)

Psalm 14:1-3 – Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; no one does good!

The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if there is even one with real understanding, one who seeks for God.  But no, all have turned away from God; all have become corrupt.  No one does good, not even one!

* In the book of Proverbs, a “simpleton” or a fool is not someone with a mental deficiency but someone with a character deficiency (such as rebellion, laziness, or anger).  The fool is not stupid, but he or she is unable to tell right from wrong or good from bad. (NLT)

Proverbs 1:22 – “You simpletons!” she cries, “How long will you go on being simpleminded?  How long will you mockers relish your mocking?  How long will you fools fight the facts?”

* Recognizing foolish plans

Aaron asked that he and Miriam not be punished for their sin.  It is easy to look back at our mistakes and recognize their foolishness.  It is much harder to recognize foolish plans while we are carrying them out because somehow then they seem appropriate.  To get rid of foolish ideas before they turn into foolish actions requires eliminating our wrong thoughts and motives.  Failing to do this caused Miriam and Aaron much grief. (NLT)

Numbers 12:11 – he cried out to Moses, “Oh, my lord!  Please don’t punish us for this sin we have so foolishly committed.

* When we look foolish we want to lash out

The donkey saved Balaam’s life but made him look foolish in the process, so Balaam lashed out at the donkey.  We sometimes strike out at blameless people who get in our way because we are embarrassed or our pride is hurt.  Lashing out at others can be a sign that something is wrong with us.  Don’t allow your own hurt pride to lead you to hurt others. (NLT)

Numbers 22:29 – “Because you have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted.  “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!”

* How could Samson have been so foolish?

Delilah was a deceitful woman with honey on her lips and poison in her heart.  Cold and calculating, she toyed with Samson, pretending to love him while looking for personal gain.  How could Samson be so foolish?  Four times Delilah took advantage of him.  If he didn’t realize what was happening after the first or second experience, surely he should have understood the situation by the fourth time!  We think Samson is foolish, but how many times do we allow ourselves to be deceived by flattery and give in to temptation and wrong beliefs?  Avoid falling prey to deceit by asking God to help you distinguish between deception and truth. (NLT)

Judges 16:19 – Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and she called in a man to shave off his hair, making his capture certain.  And his strength left him.

* Be willing to look foolish for your faith

David was willing to look foolish in the eyes of some people in order to express his thankfulness to God fully and honestly.  In contrast, Michal was so disgusted by his undignified actions that she could not rejoice in the Ark’s return to Jerusalem.  Worship had so deteriorated under the reign of her father, Saul, that it had become stilted and ritualistic.  Michal could accept David as a military conqueror and as a king, but she could not accept his free and spontaneous expression of praise to God.  Some devoted people may look foolish to us in their heartfelt expressions of worship, but we must accept them.  In the same way, we should not be afraid to worship God with whatever expressions seem appropriate. (NLT)

1 Chronicles 15:29 – But as the Ark of the Lord’s covenant entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window.  When she saw King David dancing and leaping for joy, she was filled with contempt for him.

* Wisdom & foolishness contrasted

Wisdom and Folly (foolishness) are portrayed in this chapter as rival young women, each preparing a feast and inviting people to it.  But Wisdom is a responsible woman of character, while Folly is a prostitute serving stolen food.  Wisdom appeals to the mind; Folly to the senses.  It is easier to excite the senses, but the pleasures of Folly are temporary.  By contrast, the satisfaction that Wisdom brings lasts forever.

The seven pillars are figurative; they do not represent seven principles of wisdom.  In the Bible, the number seven represents completeness and perfection.  This verse poetically states that wisdom lacks nothing—it is complete and perfect.

The banquet described in this chapter has some interesting parallels to the banquet Jesus described in one of his parables (Luke 14:15-24).  Many may intend to go, but they never make it because they get sidetracked by other activities that seem more important at the time.  Don’t let anything become more important than your search for God’s wisdom. (NLT)

Proverbs 9:1-5 – Wisdom has built her spacious house with seven pillars.  She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table.  She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come.  She calls out from the heights overlooking the city.  “Come home with me,” she urges the simple.  To those without good judgment, she says, “Come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed.  Leave your foolish ways behind, and begin to live; learn how to be wise.

* The wise and the foolish are often contrasted in Proverbs.  The characteristics, reputation, and results of each are worth knowing if wisdom is our goal. (NLT)

Characteristics

** The wise give good advice; the foolish lack common sense.

Proverbs 10:21 – The godly give good advice, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.

** The wise enjoy wisdom; the foolish enjoy foolishness.

Proverbs 10:23 – Doing wrong is fun for a fool, while wise conduct is a pleasure to the wise.

** The wise consider their steps; the foolish are gullible.

Proverbs 14:15 – Only simpletons believe everything they are told!  The prudent carefully consider their steps.

** The foolish avoid the wise.

Proverbs 15:12 – Mockers don’t love those who rebuke them, so they stay away from the wise.

** The wise are hungry for truth; the foolish feed on foolishness.

What we feed our mind is just as important as what we feed our body.  The kinds of books we read, the people we talk with, the music we listen to, and the films we watch are all part of our mental diet.  Be discerning because what you feed your mind influences your total health and well-being.  Thus, a strong desire to discover knowledge is a mark of wisdom. (NLT)

Proverbs 15:14 – A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash.

** The wise value wisdom above riches.

Proverbs 16:16 – How much better to get wisdom than gold, and understanding than silver!

** The wise receive life; the foolish receive punishment.

For centuries people sought a fountain of youth, a spring that promised to give eternal life and vitality.  It was never found.  But God’s wisdom is a life-giving fountain that can make a person happy, healthy, and alive forever.  How?  When we live by God’s Word, he washes away the deadly effects of sin, and the hope of eternal life with him gives us a joyful perspective on our present life.  The fountain of youth was only a dream, but the life-giving fountain is reality.  The choice is yours.  You can be enlightened by God’s wisdom, or you can be dragged down by the weight of your own foolishness. (NLT)

Proverbs 16:22 – Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, but discipline is wasted on fools.

** The wise respond to correction; the foolish do not respond to punishment.

Proverbs 17:10 – A single rebuke does more for a person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a fool.

** The wise pursue wisdom; the foolish pursue illusive dreams.

While there is something to be said for having big dreams, this proverb points out the folly, foolishness, of chasing fantasies (having eyes that “wander to the ends of the earth,” Proverbs 12:11 – Hard work means prosperity; only fools idle away their time).  How much better to align your goals with God’s, being the kind of person he wants you to be!  Such goals (wisdom, honesty, patience, love) may not seem exciting, but they will determine your eternal future.  Take time to think about your dreams and goals, and make sure they cover the really important areas of life. (NLT)

Proverbs 17:24 – Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

** The foolish blame failure on God.

Proverbs 19:3 – People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.

** The wise profit from correction; the foolish is an example to others.

There is a great difference between the person who learns from criticism and the person who refuses to accept correction.  How we respond to criticism determines whether or not we grow in wisdom.  The next time someone criticizes you, listen carefully to all that is said.  You might learn something. (NLT)

Proverbs 19:25 – If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded will learn a lesson; if you reprove the wise, they will be all the wiser.

** The foolish are proud and arrogant.

Proverbs 21:24 – Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance.

** The foolish despise wise advice.

Proverbs 23:9 – Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.

** The foolish make truth useless.

Some people are so blind that they won’t get much wisdom from reading these proverbs.  Only those who want to be wise have the receptive attitude needed to make the most of them.  If we want to learn from God, he will respond and pour out his heart to us. (NLT)

Proverbs 26:7 – In the mouth of a fool, a proverb becomes as limp as a paralyzed leg.

God is more than willing to pour out his heart and make known his thoughts to us.  To receive his advice, we must be willing to listen, refusing to let pride stand in our way.  Pride is thinking more highly of our own wisdom and desires than of God’s.  If we think we know better than God or feel we have no need for God’s direction, we have fallen into foolish and disastrous pride. (NLT)

Proverbs 1:23-28 – “Come here and listen to me!  I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise.

“I called you so often, but you didn’t come.  I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.  You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered.  So I will laugh when you are in trouble!  I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overcomes you like a storm, when you are engulfed by trouble, and when anguish and distress overwhelm you.

“I will not answer when they cry for help.  Even though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.”

** The foolish repeat their folly (foolishness).

Proverbs 26:11 – As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

** The wise trust in wisdom; the foolish trust in themselves.

For many people, the rugged individualist is a hero.  We admire the bold, self-directed men and women who know what they want and fight for it.  They are self-reliant, neither giving nor asking advice.  What a contrast to God’s way.  A person can’t know the future or predict the consequences of his or her choices with certainty.  And so the totally self-reliant person is doomed to failure.  The wise person depends on God. (NLT)

Proverbs 28:26 – Trusting oneself is foolish, but those who walk in wisdom are safe.

** The wise control their anger; the foolish unleash their anger.

Proverbs 29:11 – A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.

Reputation

** The wise are admired as counselors; the foolish are punished as servants.

Proverbs 10:13 – Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding, but fools will be punished with a rod.

** The wise are crowned with knowledge; the foolish inherit folly (foolishness).

Proverbs 14:18 – The simpleton is clothed with folly, but the wise person is crowned with knowledge.

** The foolish cause strife and quarrels.

Proverbs 22:10 – Throw out the mocker, and fighting, quarrels, and insults will disappear.

** The foolish receive no honor.

Proverbs 26:1 – Honor doesn’t go with fools any more than snow with summer or rain with harvest.

** The wise keep peace; the foolish stir up anger.

Proverbs 29:8 – Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but those who are wise will calm anger.

Results

** The wise stay on straight paths; the foolish go the wrong way.

Proverbs 15:21 – Foolishness brings joy to those who have no sense; a sensible person stays on the right path.

** The foolish lash out when discovered in folly (foolishness).

Proverbs 17:12 – It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in folly.

** The foolish are endangered by their words.

Proverbs 18:6, 7 – Fools get into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating.

The mouths of fools are their ruin; their lips get them into trouble.

** The wisdom of the wise conquers others’ strength.

Proverbs 21:22 – The wise conquer the city of the strong and level the fortress in which they trust.

** The wise avoid wicked paths; the foolish walk a troublesome path.

Proverbs 22:5 – The deceitful walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will stay away.

** The wise have great advice.

The athlete who has wisdom—who assesses the situation and plans strategies—has an advantage over a physically stronger but unwise opponent.  We exercise regularly and eat well to build our strength, but do we take equal pains to develop wisdom and knowledge?  Because wisdom is a vital part of strength, it pays to attain it. (NLT)

Proverbs 24:5 – A wise man is mightier than a strong man, and a man of  knowledge is more powerful than a strong man.

** The foolish will never be chosen as counselors.

Proverbs 24:7 – Wisdom is too much for a fool.  When the leaders gather, the fool has nothing to say.

** The foolish must be guided by hardship.

Proverbs 26:3 – Guide a horse with a whip, a donkey with a bridle, and a fool with a rod to his back!

** The foolish persist in foolishness.

Proverbs 27:22 – You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle.

* Foolishness of rejecting Christ’s message

“God’s deep secrets” refer to God’s unfathomable nature and his wonderful plan—Jesus’ death and resurrection—and to the promise of salvation, revealed only to those who believe that what God says is true.  Those who believe in Christ’s death and resurrection and put their faith in him will know all they need to know to be saved.  This knowledge, however, can’t be grasped by even the wisest people unless they accept God’s message.  All who reject God’s message are foolish, no matter how wise the world thinks they are. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 2:10 – But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit, and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God’s deep secrets.

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