Fool-Proofing Your Life

Fool is a very Biblical word. We all have been fools. As a matter of fact we’re born that way. Proverbs 22:15 (NASB) Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

All children are foolish, and that’s OK. Parents should expect foolishness, and seek to drive it away. But it’s not OK when we stay foolish and some of us do. How do we deal with them? and discern our own foolish behavior. Start with defining what a fool is and the book of Proverbs is the one stop place for that.

Three Hebrew words used in Proverbs for fool:

  • Kesil – dull, closeminded. 49X in Proverbs, 70X in OT. “right in his own eyes.” Will not consider the value of unselfish things.
  • Nabal – spiritually bereft, lacks spiritual perception. 18x in OT. Incapable of seeing God’s side of things. Self-damaging. Abigail about her husband – “no one can talk to him”
  • Ewil – obstinate, hardened fool; sees no benefit to wisdom. From root “thick of fluids.” Hard headed. 26x in OT. My way or the highway.

Characteristics in Proverbs of a fool: How can we discern foolish behavior?

1. The fool is UNRIGHTEOUS. Proverbs 10:23; 13:19; 14:9. The fool is quick to do evil. Takes every opportunity to disobey. Has no conscience. Sees nothing wrong with evil.

Proverbs 13:19 (ESV) A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.

Conversation with a fool about morality may end up like this – “I can’t believe you didn’t cheat.” “I can’t believe you didn’t lie.”

Proverbs 10:23 (ESV) Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.

2. The fool is UNREALISTIC. Proverbs 12:15; 17:24; 28:26; Numbers 32:23. They are out of touch with reality

UNREALISTIC ABOUT SELF – Self is all that’s needed. Others opinions are of no use and the fool will always overestimate his/her own knowledge & abilities.

Proverbs 12:15 (ESV) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

UNREALISTIC ABOUT LIFE. The fool is a wishful thinker. His ships always about to come in and the fool believes he/she should have what they want without work & responsibility.

Proverbs 17:24 (ESV) The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

UNREALISTIC ABOUT SIN. In regards to sin the fool will use statements like: “That will never happen to me.” “God understands my situation.” “My situation is different.” The fool always expects God to adjust to him/her instead of adjusting to God. “Well, God will just have to forgive me.” They serve as their own judge & jury & will in most cases pronounce themselves innocent & others guilty.

Proverbs 14:9 (NASB) Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will.

3. The fool is UNDISCIPLINED. Proverbs 15:2; 18:2, 6-7; 21:30; 29:11. They have no self-control.

UNDISCIPLINED WITH HIS MOUTH – The foolish person doesn’t hold back any words & takes no thought to the affect of their words on others.

Proverbs 15:2 (ESV) The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Proverbs 18:2 (ESV) A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 18:6-7 (ESV) A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. 7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.

Proverbs 29:11 (ESV) A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

4. The fool is UNRELIABLE. Proverbs 10:8; 14:8; 26:10. Solomon cautions about trusting a fool & entering into business dealings with a fool. The fool cannot be faithful because there is no self-control, no discipline, no thought to others, no realism about right & wrong & sin.


Proverbs 14:8 (ESV) The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.

Conversations with a fool may go like this: “You said you were going to…” “I didn’t say that.” Or “I said that but that’s how things go.”

Proverbs 26:10 (ESV) Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.

One bad apple ruins the hold crate. To hire a fool is to invite pain to everyone.

5. The fool is UNTEACHABLE. Proverbs 1:7, 29-32; 9:7-8; 15:12; 26:11; 27:22. They are self-contained & have no need for others opinions. Their way is right. “The rest of the world is really skewed, & I’m OK.” Try to teach, correct, or train a fool & you will be frustrated. They’re not listening or they are correcting you, though you have more experience & expertise. They know what’s best.

Proverbs 1:7 (ESV) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:7-8 (ESV) Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Proverbs 15:12 (ESV) A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.

The fool is incapable of learning because he/she is incapable of seeing the value in others & others opinions.

A FOOL CAN’T LEARN FROM HIS/HER OWN MISTAKES – Proverbs 26:11 (ESV) Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.

6. The fool is UNPLEASANT. Proverbs 10:14; 17:12; 18:6; 20:3; 22:10; 29:8. The fools brings grief to the parents and contention to relationships. He/she stirs the pot & leaves you feeling angry, bitter, confused, etc. It’s not about you, though, it’s about them.

Proverbs 17:12 (ESV) Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.

Proverbs 20:3 (ESV) It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.

Conversations with a fool always end with you feeling like you’ve done something wrong. You’ll always manage to end up being the bad guy.

Proverbs 29:9 (ESV) If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.

How to be wise – Do the opposite of the fool: Be RIGHTEOUS, REALISTIC, DISCIPLINED, RELIABLE, TEACHABLE, PLEASANT.

How do I deal with foolishness?

1. AVOID the foolish person. Proverbs 14:7; 17:12; Titus 3:10-11; Proverbs 29:9; 23:9; 26:4. You must avoid & seek to remove yourself from relationship with a fool. Don’t get involved.

Proverbs 14:7 (ESV) Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.

Proverbs 22:10 (ESV) Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.

Why we don’t do this? Well, I can help them change. Proverbs is clear that the person of this character cannot be changed by you. “I can reform them” – It’s out of your control. They need divine transformation. What will probably happen is you will get pulled down before pulling the fool up.

Proverbs 26:4 (ESV) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.

2. EMBRACE the wise person. Proverbs 1:5; 11:14; 12:15; 13:20; 15:22. Embrace relationships & especially with wise people.

Proverbs 11:14 (ESV) in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 12:15 (ESV) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 13:20 (ESV) Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

The anti-fool – How do I keep from being or becoming foolish?

Proverbs 3:5-7 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

Counter foolishness by trusting in something above yourself. Trust in God, lean on Him, admit you lack wisdom. Turn away from evil. Transformation occurs when we admit our need & cry out for wisdom. The way of wisdom is provided through Christ – “in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom & knowledge” Colossians 3:3.

About Lane Corley

I am - Follower of Jesus Christ - Husband to the beautiful and patient Heather Corley - Father of three. - Church Planter / Church Planting Strategist with the Louisiana Baptist Convention. - When I can, I’m reading, raised bed gardening, deer hunting, and on mission with my church. - Hoping to be helpful.

Posted on April 1, 2011, in Thru the Bible. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thank you for words of wisdom on the celebration of a foolish day. My Ismaili (Muslum) friend appreciated
    Proverb 3:5-7 the best. I am sure they enjoyed all of your post that I copied and sent.

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