Updated: Feb 1, 2021
Surprisingly the Bible has a lot to say about fools. In dealing with fools, it helps to remember Jesus’ words to be “wise (shrewd) as serpents, but harmless as doves,” (Matthew 10:16 NKJV). More than a few of us have been deceived by a fool, but who exactly is a fool? In the Hebrew language, fool means a stupid fellow, a dullard. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a dullard as an unimaginative person, airhead, birdbrain, blockhead, dope, dork, dum-dum, idiot, nincompoop, ignoramus, and upwards of thirty other amusing synonyms that will make you chuckle. But it’s not so funny having a fool in your life, be it at home, work, school, or church.
Fools despise wisdom and understanding, as Proverbs 23:9 (NLT) notes, Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice. It is interesting that “despise” in Hebrew means “disrespect.” How often must we correct children for being disrespectful to parents, as we attempt to teach them honor and respect of elders and authority? Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, Proverbs 22:15, so from early on, the “ish-ness” of a fool creeps into a child’s heart and should be corrected to prevent the child from ultimately despising authority as he grows older.
Wiser advice about responding to fools appears in Proverbs 14:7 (NLT), where we’re told to simply stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge there. These verses further define a fool:
1. In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride (Proverbs 14:3 NKJV). Solomon teaches us that pride is at the core of a fool.
2. A fool also multiplies words (Ecclesiastes 10:14 NKJV). Exaggeration and excessive talking can be identifying traits of a fool.
3. “You simpletons!” Wisdom cries. "How long will you go on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools fight the facts?” (Proverbs 1:21-23 NLT). Trying to reason with a person who fights the facts is exhausting. Let your words be few in the presence of a fool.
4. Whoever spreads slander is a fool (Proverbs 10:18 NKJV). Slander has been called a coward’s revenge, so consider the source if you are being slandered.
5. To do evil is like sport to a fool (Proverbs 10:23 NKJV). Think of how passionate and aggressive a good athlete is. A fool is driven to do evil.
If there are fools in your life, pray for them! Talking with them will have very little effect, but the Lord died for, and loves every single dullard on the planet. Our best course of action with fools is to limit talking to them, but rather talk to God about them. He has an effective Ways and Means Committee to draw fools right into the Kingdom of God.
© 2020, Chris Werre