Fools don’t always appear foolish. While some are obviously foolish because they are just plain stupid, many are quite distinguished. They are powerful; they are influential; they are cunning; they can be very well-connected; they can even be very wise in their chosen field. What they lack is biblical perspective. They are spiritually near-sighted.
(31) Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
(32) For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.
(33) The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.
(34) Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
(35) The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.
Solomon warns his son not to envy the oppressor. Why? Because fools in their own element can often look very impressive and their position in the world can look desirable. And while Solomon does not necessarily condemn their successes, he warns his son to choose none of their ways. Because what we often do not see in the success is the means the fool chooses to get there. We can also neglect to notice the foundation a fool’s success is built upon. Certainly, he has the blessings of this present age, but what does he have in light of eternity and in relation to his standing before God? Riches will not save in the day of judgment, and once his day is past, what good will a fool’s accomplishments do his eternal soul?
“The forward [crooked, perverse, devious] is abomination to the Lord.” That is the fool’s standing before God, when what all people need is to be accepted in the beloved,” (or the Beloved One, Jesus Christ). What a person needs to hear when life is past is “well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23), not “depart from me ye workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:27). The fool, temporally-focused as he is, looks for that kind of praise from other temporal beings because he has no eye for the Eternal God. So, his praise and reward only last as long as he does.
“The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked.” As if the curse on mankind in general is not enough, God puts a personal curse on the wicked, and part of that curse is the fool’s own success, the deceitfulness of his own riches (Proverbs 18:11). That’s not an indictment on wealth. It’s an indictment on trusting in wealth.
“Surely He [God] scorneth the scorners: but He giveth grace unto the lowly.” This was probably the verse James was thinking on when he wrote: “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). That’s hard to see when it seems that fools appear to be pretty successful in this world. But remember, it is the devil who runs this world system and he often uses success to blind people to the truth. He even tried to use that ploy on the Lord Himself (Matthew 4:8-9)!
“The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” For the wise, this world is not the focus (Hebrews 11:8-10; 16). His eyes are on heavenly rewards: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34), and because his focus is eternal, so is his blessing. For the fool, because his eye only on this world, his reward is temporary and his “promotion” shall be shame (disgrace, dishonor). He’ll have no place in heaven. No accolades will await him there. In that Celestial City he won’t even be a thought, much less remembered. Why? Because he did not have the faith to see beyond this world.