No win

4 Answer not a [self-confident] fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.

5 Answer a [self-confident] fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes andconceit.

6 He who sends a message by the hand of a [a]fool cuts off the feet [of satisfactory delivery] and drinks the damage.

7 Like the legs of a lame man which hang loose, so is a parable in the mouth of a fool.

8 Like he who binds a stone in a sling, so is he who gives honor to a [self-confident] fool.

9 Like a thorn that goes [without being felt] into the hand of a drunken man, so is a proverb in the mouth of a [self-confident] fool.

10 [But] like an archer who wounds all, so is he who hires a fool or chance passers-by.

11 As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.

12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes and conceit? There is more hope for a [self-confident] fool than for him. (Book of Proverbs, Chapter 26, Verses 4-12, Amplified Version)

Many times have I read these verses. Initially I had some problems with the fact that Solomon would call anyone a fool. But life has brought me to get over my objections on the point.

The obvious contradiction between verses 4 and 5 often caught my attention. The take away became clear: No matter what you say to a fool, you lose.

Now it is clear that these nine verses, from 4 through 12, constitute a nicely crafted warning for anyone faced with dealing with a fool: You will lose!

If you think you are wise enough to deal with a fool and get away without harm, you are the greater fool. The dog will return to the vomit. The fool will return to the folly. You may try to teach a fool the wisdom of a proverb. The fool may mouth it but the wisdom will not sink in. You may try to honor a fool and build up the self esteem. That will come back and whack you in the head like a rock.

What’s the overall message? I guess it will depend on your personal situation. If you are contemplating marriage, though, remember fools can be handsome. They can be beautiful. They can be educated. They can be smart. They can be rich. They can be sweet at first taste, like the fast food that later leaves you toxic.

Fools do not go around with a sign saying “Beware, Fool on Board.” This begs the question: How the heck do we steer clear of them in the first place? Well, the answer that comes to my mind, is to recognize that each of us is a fool in his own way. That is why we must seek wisdom at all cost and continually. As soon as we think we are wise, we become fools and will dwell with fools.

So the take away for me, at least is a prayer: Oh Lord, overcome my foolishness daily with your context appropriate wisdom for the day. Amen.

How does this all strike you? Please let me know. You can post a comment or use the form below to send me a direct message.

 

Cool spirit

27 He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding has a cool spirit.

28 Even a fool when he holds his peace is considered wise; when he closes his lips he is esteemed a man of understanding. (Proverbs, Chapter 17, Verses 27 and 28, Amplified Version)

This is the first time I really put these two verses together. They both emphasize the importance of not talking too much. Oh, Lord, I often talk too much. I end up sharing things I didn’t really need to share. At the very best this bores others. At the worst it may insult them or reveal information that should not have been revealed. Oh, Holy Spirit come  on inside and be a good gatekeeper to my mouth. Oops! I don’t meant that to sound like I’m inviting You to be the butler. No, I want you to be in charge and my mouth will serve you, and all the rest of me, for that matter.

Simple one

22 How long, O simple ones [open to evil], will you love being simple? And the scoffers delight in scoffing and [self-confident] fools hate knowledge?

23 If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you. (Proverbs 1, Amplified Bible)

I count myself among the simple ones but I do not love it. I do not delight in scoffing. I love knowledge rather than hate it. Even so the knowledge I need often escapes me. So I do repent. I will heed reproof. I want a continual flow of the spirit of wisdom. I want to know her words. The alternative is bone chilling.

24 Because I have called and you have refused [to answer], have stretched out my hand and no man has heeded it,

25 And you treated as nothing all my counsel and would accept none of my reproof,

26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when the thing comes that shall cause you terror and panic

27 When your panic comes as a storm and desolation and your calamity comes on as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.

28 Then will they call upon me [Wisdom] but I will not answer; they will seek me early and diligently but they will not find me.

29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord,

30 Would accept none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof,

31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices.

32 For the backsliding of the simple shall slay them, and the careless ease of [self-confident] fools shall destroy them.

33 But whoso hearkens to me [Wisdom] shall dwell securely and in confident trust and shall be quiet, without fear or dread of evil. (Book of Proverbs, Chapter 1, Amplified Version)

Oh, Lord, please remind me to always give your Wisdom heads up attention and instant obedience.

Boomer guide

12 The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible].

13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.

14 [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].

15 [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Psalm 92, Verses 12-15, Amplified Version)

Hi, boomers! As a boomer guide I wish you all the blessings of the preceding passage. I dare to call myself a boomer guide because I am three years older than the oldest of you. So I’ve been down the same path you are on and around a couple of corners you may not have rounded yet. Can I be of service to you? Here are my quals for your review.

I am unfortunately not one of the uncompromisingly righteous folk Psalms 92 mentions. I have rushed in where angles fear to tread. I have thrust myself into the valley of the shadow of death. I am in essence a fool. However, I am a fool who knows he’s a fool. So that keeps me humble. But then this recognition of humility makes me confident that I can at least point out the way not to go. Of course you may wonder if this confidence makes me arrogant. There is that risk. Or perhaps it’s another advantage. I live in the space of constant conflict between foolishness and wisdom, between confident arrogance and humility. If that is the essence of being human, than perhaps I might be a useful guide as you traverse those years that lie between you and a hole in the ground.