Proverbs 02: The Fool
30 Days in the Proverbs (02) - The Fool
Introduction - We have seen that the Book of Proverbs fits is part of “wisdom literature.” Proverbs is the aspiration for wisdom in Christ, since in Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. One of the prominent themes in the book is “the fool” or “foolishness.” There are three terms for foolish people in Proverbs: the simple (naive), the scoffer, and the fool (proper). In addition, there are three terms translating, “fool.”
The “naive” or “simple” translates the Hebrew word peti^ (14 times). He is easily led, gullible, silly, naive, and irresponsible. “The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps” (14:15). The trouble with the simple is they move into greater folly. “The simple acquire folly” (14:18). In chapter 7, a naive person is drawn into temptation by his slackness. “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them” (1:32).
The “scoffer” or scorner (le¯s) shows up about 17 times. “Scoffers delight themselves in scoffing“ (1:22). He avoids the discipline of correction (9:7, 8; 13:1; 15:12). “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you” (9:8). He is a trouble-maker (21:24; 22:10; 29:8) and causes contention. “Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, Even strife and dishonor will cease” (22:10).
The “fool” (ke?si^l) is used about 50 times. It has several senses. “Why does a fool offer the sage a fee, when he has no mind to learn?” (17:16, Moffatt trans.). He is unteachable (17:10) because of his spiritual state, not his mental capacity. He brings sorrow (10:1; 17:21), bitterness (17:25) and calamity (19:13) to his parents. Another term for fool is e?wi^l (19 times). It emphasizes stupidity and stubbornness. His folly shows up in his speech (17:28; 24:7) and lacks restraint (20:3; 12:16). He cannot take good counsel (10:8; 12:15; 15:5). Another term for fool is na¯ba¯l (3 times). Abigail said of Nabal, “One cannot speak to him,” 1 Sam. 25:17). In Psalm 14:1 it is this kind of fool who says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Sources: Derek Kidner, Proverbs, Tyndale Commentary)
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more