Life Lessons: Wisdom vs. Foolishness

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Life Lessons

Wisdom vs. Foolishness

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In biblical wisdom literature, the opposite of a wise person is called a fool.

In Proverbs 8 and 9, Solomon personifies wisdom and foolishness as two women.  Wisdom is a woman who leads her followers to God and life.  Her ways have more value than any amount of physical wealth.  On the other hand, the foolish woman leads her followers to death.

The book of Proverbs is filled with explanations of the differences in character, behavior and results of a life based on wisdom versus one based on folly.

Points to build on

Character traits of the foolish.

Proverbs 12:15 Proverbs 12:15The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that listens to counsel is wise.
American King James Version×
:  “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.”

Proverbs 14:16 Proverbs 14:16A wise man fears, and departs from evil: but the fool rages, and is confident.
American King James Version×
:  “A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident.”  NIV:  “A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.”

Proverbs 19:3 Proverbs 19:3The foolishness of man perverts his way: and his heart frets against the LORD.
American King James Version×
:  “The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the LORD.”  NIV:  “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.”

Proverbs 27:22 Proverbs 27:22Though you should bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
American King James Version×
:  “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.”

Proverbs 28:26 Proverbs 28:26He that trusts in his own heart is a fool: but whoever walks wisely, he shall be delivered.
American King James Version×
:  “He who trusts his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.”

Behavioral traits of the foolish.

Proverbs 10:23 Proverbs 10:23It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding has wisdom.
American King James Version×
:  “To do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom.”

Proverbs 14:15 Proverbs 14:15The simple believes every word: but the prudent man looks well to his going.
American King James Version×
:  “The simple believes every word, but the prudent man considers well his steps.”

Proverbs 15:14 Proverbs 15:14The heart of him that has understanding seeks knowledge: but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
American King James Version×
:  “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of the fool feeds on foolishness.”

Proverbs 17:24 Proverbs 17:24Wisdom is before him that has understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.
American King James Version×
(NIV):  “A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.”

Proverbs 26:11 Proverbs 26:11As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.
American King James Version×
:  “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”

Proverbs 29:11 Proverbs 29:11A fool utters all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards.
American King James Version×
(NIV):  “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”

Results of being foolish.

Proverbs 10:13 Proverbs 10:13In the lips of him that has understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.
American King James Version×
:  “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.”

Proverbs 14:9 Proverbs 14:9Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor.
American King James Version×
:  “Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.”

Proverbs 17:25 Proverbs 17:25A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bore him.
American King James Version×
:  “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him.”

Proverbs 18:6-7 Proverbs 18:6-7 [6] A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for strokes. [7] A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
American King James Version×
:  “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows.  A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are a snare for his soul.”

Solomon concludes that a foolish person is self-centered, arrogant and controlled by his or her own emotions.  The fool is unable to accept correction from others and refuses to accept responsibility for the consequences of decisions, but instead blames God.  The result is a lifestyle based on self-ordained concepts of right and wrong instead of obedience to God; seeking of immediate physical pleasure instead of building personal character; repetition of mistakes; restless wandering void of peace; and relationships filled with strife. 

Application

1.  Wisdom is something to be pursued because it contains more value than gold or precious stones.

2.  Copy proverbs and wise sayings into a small book and review them daily.

3.  When you read a proverb take a few minutes to consider how the principle can be applied to everyday life.