The first seven verses of Proverbs 1 serve as an introduction for the entire book. Several themes regarding life are carried throughout the Proverbs. And as I am studying the book this month, I’m going to attempt to follow what the Proverbs say about fools.
(1) The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;
(2) To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
(3) To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
(4) To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
(5) A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
(6) To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
(7) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
According to this introduction, Proverbs promises to bless its readers with several things:
- The ability to truly grasp and appreciate wisdom (the skill to apply knowledge) and instruction (the ability to learn and grow from chastisement). (v. 2)
- A correct and discerning world view (vv. 3-4)
Immediately, Solomon begins the Proverbs with a warning against fools. Foolishness is in the heart of a child. So, in speaking with his son, he is careful to clearly spell out for him how fools operate.
(8) My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:(9) For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.(10) My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
(11) If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:
(12) Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:
(13) We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:
(14) Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:
(15) My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:(16) For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
(17) Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
(18) And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
(19) So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
First of all, a fool does not heed the counsel of his elders (vv. 8-9). He discounts it as out-of-touch, irrelevant, not cool.
Fools are avid proselytizers. “My son, if sinners entice thee….” They actively seek people to join them in their stupidity. It’s almost as though, nagging at the back of their mind, is the realization that what they are doing is wrong, but if they can get others to agree with them, then it’s okay. It’s not just them doing it. They can argue: “Well, everybody’s doing it!” And if they can entice someone who reputed to be wise to go in on their scheme, it’s like a seal of approval for their actions.
They deceive others and themselves (vv. 11-14). According to them, their plans are flawless. They can see only benefit – for themselves – and they have no regard for the lives, property, or welfare of others.
They cannot see the consequences of their actions because they are impulse driven, not wisdom driven (v. 16-17). They cannot see, or they do not care, that their ways will lead to their own destruction. “Oh, I’ll never get caught.” “Those things will never happen to me.” (vv. 17-18)
Ultimately, they are driven by greed and are murderous at heart because of it.