The Book of Proverbs is a book of contrasts and comparisons. It is also a partial collection of the wisdom of Solomon. As its opening verses state, his purpose in writing the Proverbs is to impart wisdom in a way that the reader would benefit from it and prosper. In Solomon’s Proverbs he introduces us to many people and situations and among them are those who seek after wisdom and their opposites; the fools. There are approximately four different levels of fools and their foolishness marked out for us.
The first fool is frequently referred to as simple. In the fourth verse of the book he writes that he’s trying “to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.” (Prov 1:4) This is the person who really doesn’t care whether something is true or false and lacks a worthwhile purpose or direction for their life. “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” (14:15) He is easily drawn into illicit pleasures (7:7) and can’t even imagine that there are actually consequences for his actions.
The second fool is known as a scoffer and is also called a scorner. “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction, but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” (13:1) A scorner laughs at anybody’s wisdom but his own, and will say anything to make his point. “Cast out the scorner, and contention will cease; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” (22:10)
The next fool is an arrogant one, one who willfully ignores wisdom. “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth and is confident.” (14:16) The arrogant fool has no delight in understanding (18:2) and thinks it is fun to do mischief. (10:23) He only cares for himself and whatever he can get.
The last fool on our list is the rebel and for a description, he simply hates wisdom. The rebel goes much farther than the scoffer when it comes to his father’s instruction; he despises it. (15:5) He is the hardcore fool determined to aggressively pursue his own path. “Though thou shouldst crush a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.” (27:22)
And since Proverbs is a book of instruction, what do we get out of examining these four fools? The main lesson we can learn here is the end result of such foolishness as theirs. “Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.” (19:29) “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.” (26:3) “The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for lack of wisdom.” (10:21) When Solomon says, “Surely he (God) scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace to the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” (3:34-35) it is something to make note of and take to heart. To despise wisdom and instruction and embrace foolishness is…foolish.
Our daily news is full of reckless people doing foolish things thinking they can get away with it. Maybe you know one of them, or just maybe you are known as one of them. Consider the price to be paid for acting foolishly and imagine yourself someday standing before God as he waits for you to explain your justification for being a fool.