“Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7b
Occasionally acting foolish doesn’t make one a fool. However, Proverbs clearly describes the person whose life is a fool’s game. Throughout this book of wisdom, three different Hebrew words are translated, “fool.” Today’s verse isn’t talking about the dimwitted or the ruthless fool. Rather, this fool is corrupt, morally perverted, and unreasonable.
In Proverbs, Solomon contrasts wise thinking and behavior with their foolish counterparts. The first part of Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” So, the fearless fool who “despise[s] wisdom and instruction” is unteachable, combative, and holds righteous instruction in contempt. People who despise wisdom and instruction aren’t ignorant, they are arrogant. They are so full of themselves that there is no room for God.
They don’t care Who God is or what He thinks. Furthermore, they pleasure in mocking those who do fear and obey the Lord. They love to debate petty things, refusing to discipline their tongues. Confronting them with godly truth only serves to embolden them, affirming their cause against godly fear and wisdom. The result is a life of futile pursuits. There is not enough pleasure, power, or profit in all the world to make them happy.
The psalmist was perplexed as he described these people to God in Psalm 73:11-12, “They say, ‘How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?’ Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.”
What follows is a warning for those who despise wisdom and knowledge of God. “When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!” (Psalm 73:16-19).
Like the psalmist, we begin to understand the futility of such thinking by seeking God. Even as believers, we need to guard against foolish attitudes. Although you might not be combative toward God, do your words tend to display arrogance or pettiness? Would others describe you as unteachable or unreasonable? While these questions might anger a fool, wisdom leads us to repent of such harmful ways. We need to be careful; a fool’s game results in a fool’s pain.