The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,
but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.
Stay away from a fool,
for you will not find knowledge on their lips.
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
but the folly of fools is deception.
Fools mock at making amends for sin,
but goodwill is found among the upright.
I read a blog post this morning that, in conjunction with this passage, started me thinking: Who is "the fool" spoken of so frequently in Proverbs? Does it correspond with someone who rejects the Gospel message... one who follows another faith... one who works to try and earn God's approval... one who, based on what s/he stands for, is an enemy of the cross? Are these one and the same? Or is there a difference... because we are clearly told to STAY AWAY from a fool.
Here's how Proverbs (more or less comprehensively, I think) describes a fool:
- 1:7 - fools despise wisdom and instruction
- 1:22 - fools hate knowledge
- 1:32 - complacent
- 3:35 - inheritors of disgrace
- 8:5 - have a need to learn sense
- 10:8 - babblers who come to ruin
- 10:14 - bringers of ruin, with the things they say
- 10:18 - slanderers
- 10:21 - in danger of death because of a lack of sense
- 10:23 - consider sin and doing wrong as nothing more than a joke
- 11:29 - fools will be the servants of the wise
- 12:15 - a fool is convinced of his/her rightness
- 12:16 - a fool lets everyone know s/he is irritated or frustrated
- 12:23 - a fool asserts and maintains that his way is still the best way, even when proven differently
- 13:16 - a fool flaunts or is proud of his lack of good sense
- 13:19 - turning away from evil is considered abomination by the fool
- 13:20 - a fool leads companions to harm
- 14:3 - a fool brings punishment on himself by the words he says
- 14:8 - fools deceive and that is their stupidity
- 14:9 - fools mock those who admit guilt and shame
- 14:16 - fools are reckless and careless
- 14:24 - the imprudence of fools only encourages more imprudence... fools don't learn from their mistakes
- 14:33 - fools are capable of understanding wisdom, but choose not to
- 15:2 - stupidity and lunacy pours out of the mouth of a fool
- 15:5 - fools despise their fathers' teachings
- 15:7 - a foolish heart stops the spread of knowledge
- 15:14 - fools feed on folly
- 16:22 - that which a fool teaches is madness to accept and believe
- 17:7 - beautiful words coming from a fool is an oxymoron
- 17:10 - painful consequences do not impact a fool or lead him to change/grow
- 17:16 - money in a fool's hand will never buy wisdom
- 17:21 - a foolish son robs his father of joy
- 17:24 - the eyes of a fool are only on what he can gain - power, money, influence...
- 17:28 - a man's words reveal whether he is foolish or not
- 18:2 - a fool does not listen or hear but only expresses his thoughts and opinions
- 18:6 - a fool looks for arguments and debate, even when he knows he will lose
- 18:7 - the words of a fool lead to his ruin and entrap his soul
- 19:1 - fools speak deception and hypocrisy; they are worse off than any poor man who only has his integrity
- 19:10 - fools do not belong in luxury
- 19:29 - fools deserve their discipline
- 20:3 - fools quarrel
- 23:9 - fools despise the good sense in another's words
- 24:7 - fools cannot attain wisdom because they will not let go of their folly
- 26:1 - to honor a fool is an oxymoron
- 26:3 - fools earn a rod for the back
- 26:4 - when you enter vain debate with a fool, you become like him
- 26:5 - a fool is wise in his own eyes
- 26:6 - a fool cannot be entrusted to accurately deliver any message
- 26:7, 26:9 - a proverb is useless in the mouth of a fool
- 26:8 - honoring a fool is like arming him with a slingshot
- 26:10 - hiring a fool results is not better than hiring a sniper
- 26:11 - a fool is like a dog who returns to his vomit
- 26:12 - there is more hope for even a fool than a man who considers himself wise
- 27:3 - fool’s provocation crushes and suffocates
- 27:22 - even when totally broken, a fool clings to his folly
- 28:26 - trusting his own mind is the mark of a fool
- 29:9 - in a debate, a fool only rages and laughs, and is never quiet
- 29:11 - a fool vents without restraint
- 29:20 - a fool has more hope than a man hasty with his words
- 30:22 - a fool, filled with whatever satiates him, causes the earth to tremble
Proverbs 14:7 advises readers/listeners to "Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge;" Proverbs 17:12 says a man is better off meeting "...a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly."
Now granted, the occasional foolish, or unthinking action does not make one a fool. Children often act foolish as they learn right from wrong, appropriate from inappropriate, adult from childish, etc. Proverbs cearly indicates, a fool is one who continually chooses to follow a path that goes contrary to wisdom, does so arrogantly, seeks to get others to join him, and is totally blind to to their own foolishness and instead sees it as wisdom.
I still, really, haven't answered my initial question. Is one who is pursuing God, but still rejecting the Gospel message, a fool? Perhaps we might call them spiritually foolish and blind. But I don't think that same person is necessarily the same sort of "fool" we are warned repeatedly in Proverbs to avoid. Otherwise, how could we "go into all the world?" How could we "make disciples?"
What do you think?