[Papercut Press Publishing] 1998-01-20 - Raise Your Hand if You are a Fool

Proverbs 24:7: Wisdom is too high for a fool, He does not open his mouth in the gate.

This verse has been beating me up. The rest of Proverbs says that fools talk and talk and talk, or such things as that. One key to knowing a wise man is that he keeps his mouth shut. So here we are, the fool "does not open his mouth in the gate". This is not the proverbial fool that I am used to understanding. The Hebrew here is very insightful. If I could re-translate it into a paraphrase, it would be a lot easier to understand. The verse is really saying, "When a fool sees wisdom, it is way over his head, he keeps his mouth shut." In other words, the fool, upon seeing wisdom is out-matched, knows he has no chance to gain respect, and tries to hide.

So who is a fool in Scripture?

The fool is not an idiot. The fool is rather an absurd person. The fool is not someone who is incapable of thinking, but rather one who calculates and reasons wrongly. The fool is one who does not conduct and regulate his/her behavior according to reason and the teachings of Scripture. Foolishness respects the actions of a thinking person. (2 Samuel 13:10-14, Psalm 38:5) The fool, sadly, knows he/she is a fool. This is the sense of fool meant here in this verse. In the book of Proverbs we often see the fool being shown as one who lacks understanding. When, in the book of Proverbs, this is seen, it is usually that the fool is trying to impose his will where he has no place being. In these cases, fool might be better understood as folly, silliness or even emptiness. This type of fool is not in mind in this verse.

This verse begins to make sense. The Proverbs 24:7 fool is not an idiot. He sees wisdom and keeps his mouth shut lest he be found out to be a fool. As long as the fool is silent he is less likely to be found out. In a sense we are all fools. Even the wisest of us has something yet to learn. But that person who rests in and serves Christ is no fool in a Biblical sense. Servants of Christ, who all rightly think themselves unwise in some areas, still need to "speak up in the gate". We have every reason to do so, in fact our love and concern for our common man should compel us to do so. To some extent, by the grace of God, every follower of Christ has wisdom to offer this world.

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." Psalm 14:1

Soli Deo Gloria,
Tim