You would think the common sense truth: “Don’t kick fire hydrants” would be pretty obvious. But people do it all the time.
The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth [rages] against the LORD. (Proverbs 19:3)
The simplicity of Proverbs is its genius. Its truths are straightforward and approachable. It is a book full of plain old common sense. But it makes you wonder why God had to give us a book dedicated to common sense? The answer to that is as straightforward as Proverbs itself: Despite what it’s called, “common sense” is not so common. In fact, when we meet someone who actually lives their lives according to common sense, we think they’re geniuses.
Proverbs 19:3 is about the rest of us. We could paraphrase the verse like this: The fool kicks fire hydrants and then gets angry with God when he breaks his foot. “That’s ridiculous!” you might say, but how many times has someone pointed out a problem in our lives, a problem that’s really hurting us, and instead of being thankful for the advice, we become resentful? We tell ourselves that we’re “offended” because of how that someone said what he or she said, or we try to find fault with that someone. We could argue: “Well, I’m not raging against God. I’m just upset with that guy for saying what he said.” Really? If we’re honest with ourselves we know that’s just an excuse. Scripture tells us: “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate [rage at, fret against] you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” (Proverbs 9:8) A humble heart doesn’t bristle at reproof. It yields to it.
God sends us rebuke sometimes through the circumstances of life, sometimes through the consequences of our own stupidity, and sometimes through others. Once, He even sent rebuke by means of a talking donkey (Numbers 22:21-35)! If it’s ultimately God Who is sending rebuke our way, isn’t our resentment toward the means of rebuke ultimately fretting against God? And if reproofs and rebukes can be considered the “fire hydrants” of life, is it really wise to kick at them?