We see shades of foolishness lived out in our world. They range from the irresponsible to the evil but all versions of foolishness set our feet on an anti-life path that causes dysfunction and hobbles our success. There are two ways to avoid foolishness that the wise of the past recommend. One is to guard our hearts, the other is to seek the grace (gift) of wisdom. [Audio | Video | Notes]
For further thought
As wisdom is depicted as a woman (ch 31) so is folly. Each has their own beauty and reasoning. Each has its own reward. One is the path to life, the other to death. These are simply practical observations from life though, in the wider Biblical context, they are also theological truths.
There are shades of foolishness and different words used to describe it in Proverbs.
Here are some texts from each category of foolishness: If you are doing this in a small group it will be helpful to break into smaller groups to look at each section and report back to the whole small group.
Q: What are the marks of the different types of fools?
The simple: 1.10,22; 12.11; 14.15,18; 15.21,18; 22.3
The fool (class A): 1.29; 10.1; 13.16; 15.1,14,20; 17.24,25; 26.7,9,11
The fool (class B): 14.9; 20.3; 27.3,22; 29.9
The mocker: 3.32; 21.23; 22.10; 25.8,9
How do we avoid foolishness?
1. Guard our hearts – 4:23
The words for heart occur over 90 times in Proverbs. The heart is the seat of the personality, not just the emotions. In Biblical thought it represents the core of a person who makes rational and emotional decisions.
Q: What does the emphasis on the internal life in Proverbs teach us about the importance of our thoughts, emotions, and inner life for our outer actions of wisdom or foolishness?
2. Seek the grace of wisdom
Read Proverbs 2.1-11
Q: Where does wisdom come from and how does it have its effect on our hearts?
Q: Why is this different to the usual advice we hear of: ‘Just try harder?’