Proverbs 26: 1 – 16 (The Message)
Chapter 26 of Proverbs spends a lot of time talking about fools. I looked the word ‘fool’ up on dictionary.com to see how it would be defined. As a noun, it said “a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgement or sense.” As an adjective it said “resulting from or showing a lack of sense; ill-considered, lacking forethought or caution, trifling, insignificant.” So with those definitions in mind, here is what Solomon says about fools:
“Honor is no more associated with fools
than snow with summer or rain with harvest.
2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.
3 Guide a horse with a whip, a donkey with a bridle,
and a fool with a rod to his back!
4 Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or you will become as foolish as they are.
5 Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or they will become wise in their own estimation.
6 Trusting a fool to convey a message
is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison!
7 A proverb in the mouth of a fool
is as useless as a paralyzed leg.
8 Honouring a fool
is as foolish as tying a stone to a slingshot.
9 A proverb in the mouth of a fool
is like a thorny branch brandished by a drunk.
10 An employer who hires a fool or a bystander
is like an archer who shoots at random.
11 As a dog returns to its vomit,
so a fool repeats his foolishness.
12 There is more hope for fools
than for people who think they are wise.”
13 The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road!
Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!”
14 As a door swings back and forth on its hinges,
so the lazy person turns over in bed.
15 Lazy people take food in their hand
but don’t even lift it to their mouth.
16 Lazy people consider themselves smarter
than seven wise counsellors.”
Basically, Solomon is saying you can’t trust a foolish person. Why? They are all over the place with no firm foundation for why they act the way they do. You can’t rely on them to do a job well, or even to relay a message correctly to someone. They think they’re smart and love to argue – arguments you should avoid getting involved in. They don’t appear to learn from their mistakes, but just keep on repeating them. They have a tendency to be lazy and think they have everything under control.
It would definitely be wise to avoid people like that, or at least not get caught up in going along with a foolish person. Be kind, but don’t try to change them because you’re not likely to succeed.
I wondered what Jesus thought a foolish person was.
Matthew 7: 23 – 29 (NLT)
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.”
A foolish person is someone who hears Jesus’ teaching but doesn’t obey/follow it. A person who follows Jesus’ teaching and takes it to heart, has a life that is built on a solid foundation. Difficult times will come, but you will stay firm and intact. A serious illness, the death of a loved one, financial crisis, job loss, difficult situations at home or at work, etc. – these will happen, but you won’t fall apart. Your foundation, what you trust in, will stay strong. That is why it is so important to read our Bible. That is where we learn Jesus’ teaching, what God wants and values.
For example, Jesus says:
35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 35 – 39)
Jesus tells us that our relationship with God is the most important one we have. It has the priority. Jesus does say we should love ourselves; we don’t have to think we have no value. But, we are to treat our neighbours as we would want to be treated.
That is a really difficult teaching of Jesus. In our culture in 2020, God is often not our priority. We’re just too busy to find time to spend with him every day. Getting ready for work, looking after our kids – our days start out running in the morning. By the end of the day, we’re exhausted. Bed can’t come soon enough.
We even often ignore our neighbours – or any people we are in contact with – because we are concentrating on our own lives. We don’t have time for them. That’s not exactly loving our neighbour. We tend to concentrate on loving ourselves – something that Jesus agrees that we should do – but do we forget to love our neighbours in the same way?
Yet Jesus says that following his teaching is what builds our lives on a firm foundation. It’s easy to read Solomon’s advice about fools, and think in our heads that we definitely are not foolish. But ….
Our song for today is Perfect Wisdom of Our God by Keith and Kristyn Getty