The Path of the Fool and How to Know If You Are On It
Sunday, February 4, 2007 -
1) THE PRIMARY MARK OF THE FOOL IN PROVERBS IS GULLIBILITY
We’ve already studied the verb form (to fool someone) of the most commonly translated Hebrew word for “fool” in Proverbs - “peti.” We studied it last week when we looked at how to find the road of wisdom:
Proverbs 1:10 - “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”
That word entice is the verb form of the same Hebrew word “to fool.” Hence, the fool is a person who is easily enticed. He is easily pulled off track morally and spiritually. In other words, the fool’s real problem isn’t that he is unintelligent but that he is weak. He can’t say “no.” He is more shaped by peer pressure than by convictions of right and wrong. He is a fool because he is morally gullible:
Proverbs 14:15 - “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.”
Proverbs 22:3 - “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
2) NOT ONLY IS THE FOOL GULLIBLE (A PROBLEM WHICH COULD BE SOLVED WITH PATIENCE AND INCREASED KNOWLEDGE), HE IS IN DEEPER TROUBLE STILL BECAUSE HE IS STUBBORN AND UNCORRECTABLE IN HIS WAYS
Proverbs 1:7 - “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The last part of that verse is as important as the first. The fear of the Lord doesn’t fall down from heaven like dew. It is learned from Godly, wise people. But the fool will have none of this. He doesn’t love advice. He hates it.
Proverbs 10:8 - “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.”
Notice the contrast here. Wise people receive. Fools babble. That is, long before truth can reach the fool’s heart, he is on the run. He is arguing (babbling) against the truth so he won’t have to listen to it.
Proverbs 12:15 - “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”
Again, the fool simply can’t picture himself as wrong. So why would he have to listen to anyone else? This is his sure ticket to ruin.
3) THE FOOL DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO THE TRUTH HE SO DESPERATELY NEEDS
He can’t discern what is important. He doesn’t know how to embrace the way of life when it’s laid out before him:
Proverbs 29:9 - “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.”
This is a sad picture. Here is a fool who could be helped by someone wiser. Notice very carefully the two most common responses of a foolish heart to wise counsel: Either he will blow up in rage, or he will laugh and mock at the truth. See also Proverbs 14:18 for more on this theme - “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.”
4) EVEN THOUGH HE MAY HAVE THE INTELLIGENCE, THE FOOL WON’T TAKE THE TIME TO CONCENTRATE ON WISDOM
Proverbs 17:24 - “The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.”
This is a very precise picture. The fool’s attention is always somewhere else. He is always too distracted to be bothered with the important.
Proverbs 17:16 - “Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom when he has no sense?”
This is the same theme repeated. The fool would have wisdom if he could buy it immediately over the counter like a new pair of pants. But wisdom can’t be had easily or in an instant - Proverbs 2:3-5 - “Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,  if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,  then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
5) THE FOOL KEEPS RETURNING TO HIS MISTAKES
Proverbs 26:11 - “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”
What a graphic picture of the truly regurgitated life. Nothing fresh can enter the fool’s heart. Without God’s wisdom, the life can only feed on the emptiness of self.
6) IN HIS FINAL FORM, THE FOOL IS EQUATED WITH THE SCOFFER OR MOCKER IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
This is the surest sign of the dead-end nature of the heart gone bad. The fool develops a strong dislike for wisdom and correction. He will actually make sport of those who try to help him out of his disastrous future:
Proverbs 9:7-8 - “....and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense,  passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house”
But this scoffing attitude will reap ultimate ruin before the LORD - Proverbs 3:34-35 - “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.  The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.”