Hebrew Highlights 124 – Fools
Shalom! This is Yuval Shomron coming to you from Jerusalem.
Did you know that the word “fool” is used in the Bible 61 times? It’s no wonder. There are plenty of them around. Now most of us could admit that at one time or another we have done foolish things, but we would nevertheless not liked to be actually called a fool.
You see, to be a fool is a matter of choice. It is different than being stupid, or ignorant. Many people who could be defined as fools may actually have a high IQ, a lot of worldly wisdom, and a great amount of expertise in some area. However, when it comes to decisions, planning, and true knowledge, they are foolish indeed.
The most poignant definition of a fool is found in PSA 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." Now you understand why I so boldly said before that there are plenty of fools around these days.
The absolute most ridiculous thing anyone can say is that “there is no God.” This is supported in ROM 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
It seems to me to be pretty clear from the Word of God that a person becomes a fool by ignoring the wisdom of others. Let’s look at a few examples. PRO 10:8, “The wise of heart will receive commands, but a babbling fool will be thrown down.” In this case, the Hebrew word for commands is “mitzvoth”, usually used to speak of commands from God. Again we see the fool denying God’s authority.
Most fools probably started out on their misguided path early, as shown in PRO 15:5, “A fool rejects his father's discipline, But he who regards reproof is prudent.” Many of us have found ourselves saying, “If I had only listened to my parents.” Sometimes the wages of our foolishness may not show up until later in life. But those wages can be very expensive indeed.
The fool makes the mistake of comparing himself to himself, as we see in PRO 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Obviously, from this verse, if we want to be wise, we should listen to others’ wisdom and experience. Therefore, it is also not wise to hang around fools, or have them as friends, as we see in PRO 14:7, “Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.”
One particular verse in Proverbs is almost scary in its frankness. Chapter 17, verse12 says, “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, Rather than a fool in his folly.” That statement would seem over exaggerated to most of us. However, the word of God us true, and specific.
As I mentioned before, a fool is one by choice. However, he can choose to be different as well, as proved out in PRO 17:28, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is counted prudent.”
It would do us good to remember that one of the characteristics of a fool is to be argumentative. Let’s read PRO 20:3, “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.” Once more I remind you, and myself as well, that we can walk away from foolishness. A quarrel takes two parties. Let’s not be tempted to carry out our part. This idea is again brought home in PRO 29:11, “A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.”
Just in case you thought all of the verses about fools came from Proverbs, let’s look at part of a description of the times when Zion is restored from ISA 32:5-6, “No longer will the fool be called noble, Or the rogue be spoken of as generous. For a fool speaks nonsense, and his heart inclines toward wickedness, To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the Lord, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to withhold drink from the thirsty.” This phrase “to speak error against the Lord, to keep the hungry person unsatisfied,” seems to me to be an important warning to those of us who find ourselves in the position of proclaiming God’s Word. We’d better do it carefully, and in our ministry not forget the hungry and thirsty.
JER 17:11 holds a warning for those who have made a good sum of money. "As a partridge that hatches eggs which it has not laid, so is he who makes a fortune, but unjustly; In the midst of his days it will forsake him, and in the end he will be a fool." I have to admit that this is one category in which I have little experience, but I would assume that we could make even a few dollars unjustly; so all of us need to watch ourselves.
Please let me make one thing perfectly clear. Although I believe I can present this study in a third party sort of treatise, I should be very careful not to mention anyone in particular. In fact, the New Testament is very strong on this point in MAT 5:22, "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”
Interestingly the last mention of a fool in the Bible brings us full circle, 1CO 15:35-36, “But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” Yes, that’s right, those who deny God specifically deny the resurrection.”
Now, I skipped mentioning several verses in Proverbs, which speak of the difficulty in changing a fool’s mind. After all, many of us former fools got saved, got wisdom, and got turned around. Thank God someone took the time to set us straight. So let’s stop foolin’ around and spread the gospel!
I’ve heard people say, “I’m a fool for God.” Well actually, that is a bit of an oxymoron. If you’re FOR GOD, then you’re NO FOOL!
Shalom, Shalom from Jerusalem