Don’t be a Fool! Wisdom and Folly in Proverbs

In the process of doing some topical studies in the second section of Proverbs, here is a list I formed for contrasting the wise person and the fool.

1. Wisdom and folly are ethical qualities that reside in the heart. (14:33; 19:1) Thus, there is an obvious difference in the lifestyles of the wise and foolish. (13:16; 14:8, 16)

2. Wisdom serves as both the motivation for and goal of a wise person; a fool seeks only folly. (15:14; 17:24)

3. The fool has a detrimental effect upon his/her family. (10:1; 11:29; 14:1; 15:20; 17:21, 25; 19:13)

4. The stupidity of fools is most evident in their speech (14:3; 18:7), which conceals hatred and slanders others (10:18), continuously spouts stupidity and folly (15:2), reveals the foolishness of their heart (15:7), provokes only anger and fighting (18:6), and does not speak proverbs appropriately (26:7, 9). Thus, excellent speech is unfitting for such individuals (17:7), and so the only recourse is simply for them to quit talking (17:28).

5. The wise person lives an enriched life; the fool’s life is full of destruction and folly. (10:21; 14:24; 16:22).

6. Whereas the wise person enjoys wisdom, a fool enjoys making a sport out of wickedness. (10:23; 13:19)

7. Fools are wise in their own eyes, but the wise respond positively to counsel. (12:15; 26:12; 28:26) The fool returns to his folly like a dog returning to its vomit. (26:11)

8. The fool’s emotions are consistently uncontrolled. (12:16; 29:11)

9. Wise people downplay their own knowledge; fools speak forth their stupidity openly. (12:23)

10. The wise receive knowledge well; that fools do not is revealed by the ruin that comes by their mouth. (10:8, 10, 14)

11. The company of fools should be avoided. (13:20; 14:7; 17:12)

12. Fools should not be entrusted with jobs that require faithfulness. (26:6, 10)

13. Fools reject the very discipline they need and deserve. (15:5; 17:10; 19:29; 26:3; 27:22)

14. A wise person acknowledges and deals with sin; fools mock dealing with sin. (14:9)

15. Fools neither desire nor delight in wisdom. (17:16; 18:2)

16. Although it’s often the case, luxury and honor are not fitting for a fool. (19:10; 26:1, 8)

17. Fools love to quarrel, and the irritation they bring makes one’s mood heavy. (20:3; 27:3)

18. The fool is one who wastes his material goods. (21:20)

19. A wise person will avoid debate with a fool. (23:9; 29:9)

20. Since fools reject wisdom, they are unfit for community leadership. Folly alienates one from the community. (24:7–9)

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Author: Randy McKinion

Besides being a husband and father, I teach at Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH.

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