The storm that drives us to God – Charles H. Spurgeon

charlesspurgeon

“On mine arm shall they trust.”

— Isaiah 51:5

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is on its beam-ends, and no human deliverance can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time. Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives thee to thy Father! Now that thou hast only thy God to trust to, see that thou puttest thy full confidence in him. Dishonour not thy Lord and Master by unworthy doubts and fears; but be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Show the world that thy God is worth ten thousand worlds to thee. Show rich men how rich thou art in thy poverty when the Lord God is thy helper. Show the strong man how strong thou art in thy weakness when underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Now is the time for feats of faith and valiant exploits. Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord thy God shall certainly, as surely as he built the heavens and the earth, glorify himself in thy weakness, and magnify his might in the midst of thy distress. The grandeur of the arch of heaven would be spoiled if the sky were supported by a single visible column, and your faith would lose its glory if it rested on anything discernible by the carnal eye. May the Holy Spirit give you to rest in Jesus this closing day of the month.[1]

Posted by Steven R. Cook, M. Div.

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[1] Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, “August 31”, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

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What does it mean to be a man?

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Mic. 6:8)

       What does it mean to be a man?  The answers are as varied as the people who give them.  Some would point to genetics, anatomy, or character.  Others measure men by their accomplishments, by the battles they fight or trials they overcome.  The first man (like the first woman) was created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27), and was given specific responsibilities (Gen. 2:15-18).  God created the man to be in a relationship with Him, to think and act in ways that conform to His character.  Man was also created to be in a relationship with a woman (Gen. 2:21-25).  However, since the historical fall (Gen. 3:1-7), manhood has been diminished and perverted, as men seek to define themselves independently of God and contrary to His original design.  The world has many worthless men (Deut. 13:13; Prov. 6:12-14; 16:27-28), and some have perverted their relationship with women (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:24-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).  But the godly man delights himself in the ways of the Lord (Ps. 1:1-3), loves his wife (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19), walks humbly, and pursues righteousness, justice and love (Ps. 132:9; Mic. 6:8; Tit. 2:11-12). 

       There is no greater expression of manhood than the Lord Jesus Christ.  The eternal Son of God became a man (John 1:1, 14), manifested grace (John 1:17), lived holy (John 6:69; Heb. 7:26), faced adversity with Scripture (Matt. 4:1-11), and perpetually pleased His Father (John 8:29).  He came not to be served, “but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  He always spoke truth, both strong and gentle (Matt. 23:13-39; John 8:1-11), even in the face of hostility (John 8:40).  He welcomed children (Matt. 19:13-14), cared for the sick (Matt. 8:14-16; 14:14), fed the hungry (Mark 6:35-44), and made the humble feel loved and forgiven (Luke 7:36-50).  Jesus Washing FeetThe King of kings and Lord of lords manifested Himself as the Servant of servants when He humbled Himself and washed the feet of His disciples that they might learn humility (John 13:1-17).  By the end of His earthly life He’d completed His Father’s work, saying, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4), then He faced the cross and laid down His life for others (John 10:11, 15, 17; 1 Cor. 15:3-4).  The Giver of life has given His life that others might know His Father’s love (1 John 3:16).

       A man, in the biblical sense, is a man who models his life after Christ.  He is a Christian in the fullest sense of the word.  He is, first and foremost, in a relationship with the Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, and has been born again into a new life (1 Pet. 1:3).  He puts on “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12), and denies “ungodliness and worldly desires” and lives “sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit 2:12).  He continually studies Scripture in order to live God’s will (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18), and strives toward spiritual maturity (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 4:11-16).  He regards others as more important than himself, and looks out for the interests of others (Phil. 2:3-4).  He is filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and walks in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).  He lives in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-7), trusting Him to guide and sustain him in all things.  His life is being transformed, to think and act less like the world (Rom. 12:1-2), and conform to the image of the One who saved him (Rom. 8:29).  He does not love the world (1 John 2:15-17), but shows gracious love to his enemies who live in the world (Matt. 5:43-45; Rom. 12:19-21).  He shows love within the body of Christ (1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 3:23), and helps the needy, widows and orphans (Jam. 1:27).  As a son, he honors his father and mother (Eph. 6:1-3), as a husband, he loves his wife as Christ loves the church, providing, protecting, and honoring her always (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19; 1 Pet. 3:7), and as a father, he teaches his children the ways of the Lord (Eph. 6:4; cf. Deut. 6:5-7).  These are not all of the characteristics of the mature Christian man, but they are among the most important. 

Steven R. Cook, M. Div.

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God’s Provision – Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles H. Spurgeon

“There is corn in Egypt.”

— Genesis 42:2

Famine pinched all the nations, and it seemed inevitable that Jacob and his family should suffer great want; but the God of providence, who never forgets the objects of electing love, had stored a granary for his people by giving the Egyptians warning of the scarcity, and leading them to treasure up the grain of the years of plenty. Little did Jacob expect deliverance from Egypt, but there was the corn in store for him. Believer, though all things are apparently against thee, rest assured that God has made a reservation on thy behalf; in the roll of thy griefs there is a saving clause. Somehow he will deliver thee, and somewhere he will provide for thee. The quarter from which thy rescue shall arise may be a very unexpected one, but help will assuredly come in thine extremity, and thou shalt magnify the name of the Lord. If men do not feed thee, ravens shall; and if earth yield not wheat, heaven shall drop with manna. Therefore be of good courage, and rest quietly in the Lord. God can make the sun rise in the west if he pleases, and make the source of distress the channel of delight. The corn in Egypt was all in the hands of the beloved Joseph; he opened or closed the granaries at will. And so the riches of providence are all in the absolute power of our Lord Jesus, who will dispense them liberally to his people. Joseph was abundantly ready to succour his own family; and Jesus is unceasing in his faithful care for his brethren. Our business is to go after the help which is provided for us: we must not sit still in despondency, but bestir ourselves. Prayer will bear us soon into the presence of our royal Brother: once before his throne we have only to ask and have: his stores are not exhausted; there is corn still: his heart is not hard, he will give the corn to us. Lord, forgive our unbelief, and this evening constrain us to draw largely from thy fullness and receive grace for grace. [1]

Steven R. Cook, M. Div.

Related Article: Illumination and the Doctrine of Election

[1] Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, “May 21”, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

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God’s Gentleness – by Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

“Thy gentleness hath made me great.”

— Psalm 18:35

The words are capable of being translated, “thy goodness hath made me great.” David gratefully ascribed all his greatness not to his own goodness, but the goodness of God. “Thy providence,” is another reading; and providence is nothing more than goodness in action. Goodness is the bud of which providence is the flower, or goodness is the seed of which providence is the harvest. Some render it, “thy help,” which is but another word for providence; providence being the firm ally of the saints, aiding them in the service of their Lord. Or again, “thy humility hath made me great.” “Thy condescension” may, perhaps, serve as a comprehensive reading, combining the ideas mentioned, including that of humility. It is God’s making himself little which is the cause of our being made great. We are so little, that if God should manifest his greatness without condescension, we should be trampled under his feet; but God, who must stoop to view the skies, and bow to see what angels do, turns his eye yet lower, and looks to the lowly and contrite, and makes them great. There are yet other readings, as for instance, the Septuagint, which reads, “thy discipline”—thy fatherly correction—”hath made me great;” while the Chaldee paraphrase reads, “thy word hath increased me.” Still the idea is the same. David ascribes all his own greatness to the condescending goodness of his Father in heaven. May this sentiment be echoed in our hearts this evening while we cast our crowns at Jesus’ feet, and cry, “thy gentleness hath made me great.” How marvelous has been our experience of God’s gentleness! How gentle have been his corrections! How gentle his forbearance! How gentle his teachings! How gentle his drawings! Meditate upon this theme, O believer. Let gratitude be awakened; let humility be deepened; let love be quickened ere thou fallest asleep to-night. [1]

Steven R. Cook, M. Div.

Related Article: Glory to God

[1] Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, “April 9”, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

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God’s Sovereignty – by Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”

— Romans 8:28

Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I, be not afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, “If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it.” “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that he governs wisely, that he brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, “Send me what thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from thee; never came there an ill portion from thy table to any of thy children.”

“Say not my soul, ‘From whence can God relieve my care?’

Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.

His method is sublime, his heart profoundly kind,

God never is before his time, and never is behind.”[1]

Posted by Steven R. Cook, M. Div.

Related Article: The Sovereignty of God

[1] Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

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Righteousness Exalts a Nation

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (Prov. 14:34)

       Righteousness (Heb. צְדָקָה tsedaqah, Grk. δικαιοσύνη dikaiosune) is understood in two ways in the Bible: First it refers to the standing of those who are God’s people by means of the imputation of His righteousness that is credited to them at the moment of salvation (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:1-5).  God’s righteousness is given as a gift by means of faith, “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly (Rom 4:5; cf. Rom. 3:24; 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9).  Second, righteousness refers to the high moral behavior that God expects of His people, in which He instructs them “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit. 2:12).  “In order for a nation to be great, its leaders and people must have upright, moral characters known for their righteousness.”[1]

The generations and ages have repeatedly proved the truth of this proverb. A nation which conducts itself in righteousness ‘exalts’ itself. The word ‘exalts’ describes the lifting up, or elevating, of the people’s collective life. It is more of a moral term than descriptive of material benefits. This has already been stated in regards to a ‘city’ (Prov. 11:11) and it applies to ‘kings’ (Prov. 16:2; 14:28). In contrast, the people who tolerate and promote sin find it, in the end, to be a disgrace. The word here is rare and unusual…It describes a deep and disgraceful shame of almost unspeakable proportions (Lev. 20:17).[2]

       The values of a nation are never neutral.  They either conform to God’s character or not.  Righteousness is not accidental.  When the majority of people in a nation purpose in their hearts to know God and walk in His will, then that nation will reflect righteousness and be morally strong.  When leaders and citizens choose righteousness, the nation is lifted up and reflects the highest and best in mankind.  But sin destroys a nation; and it does so from the inside out (arrogance, selfishness, greed, hatred, etc.). 

       Righteousness is taught from one generation to the next.  It starts with believers learning and living God’s word, then teaching their children to do the same.  Each child must choose to accept the biblical values of the parents, then to walk in those values.  When God established Israel as a nation under the leadership of Moses, the Lord commanded the parents to teach His word to the children.  God said:

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deut. 6:6-7)

The Fear of the Lord       The blessing and prosperity of Israel depended upon their obedience to God’s word (Deut. 6:8-25).  If they feared God and walked in His truth, then there was blessing (Deut. 28:1-14).  If they turned away from God and lived in perpetual sin, then there was cursing (Deut. 28:15-68).  The cursing of God upon the nation of Israel came in stages (decaying social life, destruction of crops, famine and military defeat), and eventuated in total destruction if they failed to humble themselves before the Lord.  When Jewish children asked their parents why they were to learn and obey God’s word, the parents were to say, “the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival” (Deut. 6:24). 

       Israel is the only theocracy to exist in human history.  Today there are no theocratic kingdoms in the world.  There is only the spiritual kingdom to which all believers belong (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13).  Believers within a national entity have the power to influence their country and help perpetuate its blessing from God; and like those living in ancient Israel, righteousness must be taught and caught by each new generation.  God gives freedom, but freedom must always be seen as an opportunity to do good for others; for God declares, “Surely I will set you free for purposes of good” (Jer. 15:11).  And Paul states, “you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Gal. 5:13).  Each new generation must choose God and His will, for a nation is only one generation away from success or failure; from being righteous or sinful. 

Godly parents can raise godly children, and godly children can provide godly influence in their communities and in the nation. In a democracy, where leadership is elected and not inherited, the Lord’s remnant must exert as much influence for righteousness as possible; certainly every believer ought to pray for those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1–8).[3]

       National leaders and citizens commit sin (Heb. חָטָא chata, Grk. ἁμάρτημα hamartia) when they deviate from God’s will.  At the core of sin is a rebellious heart, a fallen nature, an internal defiance toward God in which a person sets his will against his Creator.  Whether educated or uneducated, religious or irreligious, believer or unbeliever, every person has the capacity and propensity to sin.  Every nation has its unbelievers who continually produce sin; but only the believer has a spiritual nature (acquired at salvation) which enables him to walk with God in accordance with Scripture.  The believer has a choice to follow God or the world, and God calls the believer to forsake sin and live righteously (Rom. 6:11-14; 13:12-14).  Paul stated:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Tit. 2:11-14)

Light of the WorldThe Christian is chosen by God to be a light in the world, and to call people to God that they might be saved by grace through faith.  The whole world lies in darkness, and the Christian is to preach the gospel to the lost, calling unbelievers “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).  The world, as a whole, will never be reformed or made perfect because it consists of a majority of unbelievers who are guided by sinful values.  Absolute perfection only comes when God destroys the current heavens and earth and creates a new heavens and earth (Rev. 21-22).  The apostle Peter states, “according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13).  Until that happens, God is calling out a special people to be set apart from the world, sanctified and holy.  We live in the world, but we are not of the world.  Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:19).  We are in the world, but are called to strive for holiness rather than conformity (Rom. 12:1-2).  

       Historically, Christians have been a positive influence in society by promoting law and being charitable to the needy (Gal. 2:10; Jam. 1:27).  They’ve built schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other helpful organizations that lift man up.  They’ve fed the hungry, cared for the sick, housed the homeless, provided for widows and orphans, and visited prisoners with the Gospel.  Christians have also promoted art, literature, music and science.  Certainly there have been abuses in the name of Christianity; however, the historical record speaks favorably about Christian service.  For the most part, believers have obeyed Scripture and become law abiding citizens rather than rebels.  Scripture teaches Christians to think of government as a “minister of God” (Rom. 13:4), to obey leaders (Rom. 13:1, 5; Tit. 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-15), pay taxes (Rom. 13:6), regard rulers as “servants of God” who do His will (Rom. 13:6), and to pray for them (1 Tim. 2:1-2).  We realize there is a legitimate sense in which the leaders of this world accomplish God’s purposes by keeping harmony and promoting justice (Rom. 13:2-4; 6-7).  We do not blindly submit to their authority, and should say no to governmental leaders when they command us to go against the commands of God (see Dan. 3:1-18; 6:1-13; Acts 4:19-20; 5:28-29).  The Christian obeys or defies human authority only as the Bible directs.  Ultimately, those who obey God’s word prove to be a blessing that promotes righteousness within a nation.  

Steven R. Cook, M. Div. 

Related Articles:

  1. Choosing Righteous Friends
  2. Love Your Enemies
  3. Satan’s World System
  4. Overcome Evil with Good 

 

[1] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 828.

[2] John A. Kitchen, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary (Christian focus publications, Germany, 2006), 322.

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Skillful, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 133.

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Dealing with Fools

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Prov. 1:7)

       The fear of the Lord for the unbeliever is fear of His judgment (Matt. 10:28), and it is a fear that can lead to Christ for salvation (1 Cor. 15:3-4).  For the believer, the fear of the Lord is a profound reverence for God because He is holy, righteous and just (Ps. 89:14; 1 Pet. 1:15-16).  It is a healthy fear that leads to knowledge and obedience.  Moses wrote, “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name” (Deut. 10:20).  The fear of the Lord discourages sinfulness because we know He will discipline us in love if we turn away (Heb. 12:5-11).  The fear of the Lord is to hate what God hates; for Scripture reveals, “the fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth” (Prov. 8:13).  The fool has no fear of God, and he is said to “despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7b). 

       The Bible, especially Proverbs, contrasts the wise man (Heb. ḥoḵmâ; Gk. sophía) with the fool (Heb. ˓ewîl, kesîl, nāḇāl; sāḵāl; Gk. áphrōn, mōrós, anóētos).[1]  Wisdom (Heb. hokmah, Grk. sophos) is the beneficial instruction for making good choices that agree with God’s word.  The Bible contrasts divine wisdom which comes from God, and worldly wisdom which ultimately comes from Satan (James 3:15-17).  Divine wisdom is the knowledge necessary to perform a task in conformity to God’s standards and values.  Biblical wisdom is based on God’s revelation in the Bible and leads to moral uprightness.  The wise man “will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5; cf. 2:5); however, “fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Prov. 1:7b).  The fool rejects the wisdom of God in Scripture which leads to salvation and righteous living.  The fool can be educated or uneducated, rich or poor, white or black, old or young, male or female.  He is friendly toward the world and its philosophies and values that promote human wisdom and accomplishments.  “A fool is not necessarily one who is marked by a low iq but one who leaves God out of his consciousness…The fool is the man who does not take God into consideration in every area of his life.”[2]

The word [fool] is used in Scripture with respect to moral more than to intellectual deficiencies. The “fool” is not so much one lacking in mental powers, as one who misuses them; not one who does not reason, but reasons wrongly. In Scripture the “fool” primarily is the person who casts off the fear of God and thinks and acts as if he could safely disregard the eternal principles of God’s righteousness (Ps. 14:1; Prov. 14:9; Jer. 17:11; etc.). Yet in many passages, especially in Proverbs, the term has its ordinary use and denotes one who is rash, senseless, or unreasonable. The expression “you fool” (Matt. 5:22) is used in the moral sense, means “wicked,” and seems to be equivalent to judging one as worthy of everlasting punishment.[3]

       The fool, according to Solomon, is a fool by choice and never by chance.  He can stop being a fool anytime he’s ready to learn and apply God’s word.  He makes himself a fool by the way he thinks, and is identified as a fool by the way he speaks and by his behavior.  Over time, folly can be so ingrained into a person that neither kindness nor suffering can remove it from them.  Here are some biblical facts about the fool:

  1. The fool is a fool by choice and never by chance (Prov. 1:22-33).  “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge?”(Prov. 1:22).  “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind”(Prov. 18:2; cf. 14:9).  He can stop being a fool anytime he’s ready to learn and apply God’s word.
  2. The fool can be recognized by his outward behavior.  “Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool” (Eccl. 10:3). 
  3. The fool loves to slander others.  “He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool” (Prov. 10:18).  Slander is the intentional circulation of a falsehood about another for the purpose of destroying their character. 
  4. Wickedness is like a game to fool, and it thrills him to do evil.  “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, and so is wisdom to a man of understanding”(Prov. 10:23).
  5. A fool can spout proverbial wisdom, but it has no meaning to him personally.  “Like a thorn which falls into the hand of a drunkard, so is a proverb in the mouth of fools”(Prov. 26:9; cf. 15:2, 7).  There are people who have some biblical knowledge, but because they are a fool it becomes distorted and twisted to their own harm and the harm of others.  “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of his soul”(Prov. 18:7; cf. 10:8, 10). 
  6. Children are naturally bent toward foolishness and the loving parent seeks to discipline it out of them.  “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him”(Prov. 22:15).  “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother”(Prov. 29:15). 
  7. The foolish child rejects his parent’s discipline.  “A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible”(Prov. 15:5).
  8. Over time, as the fool becomes an adult, his folly becomes entrenched in his heart and he is very resistant to any external pressures to change.  “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Prov. 17:10).  “Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him” (Prov. 27:22). 
  9. The fool is a grief to his father and mother.  “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother”(Prov. 10:1; cf. 15:20).  “He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy”(Prov. 17:21; cf. 19:13).
  10. The fool ruins his own life and fights against God.  “The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the LORD”(Prov. 19:3).
  11. Fools like to argue with others without a just cause.  “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel” (Prov. 20:3).  It’s better to avoid the fool rather than pursue conflict with him.  “When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest” (Prov. 29:9; cf. 20:23). 
  12. Fools are arrogant and often storm through life without consideration of others.  “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless”(Prov. 14:16).
  13. Those who employ a fool feel the painful effects of his stupidity.  “Like an archer who wounds everyone, so is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by”(Prov. 26:10).
  14. Fools repeat the same ugly acts over and over.  “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly”(Prov. 26:11).
  15. Fools have no control of their emotions.  “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back”(Prov. 29:11; cf. 25:28). 
  16. Fools pursue worldly pleasure and ruin themselves.  “The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure” (Eccl. 7:4). 
  17. The words of the wise are gracious, whereas the words of the fool express wickedness.  “Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness” (Eccl. 10:12-13).
  18. The person who befriends a fool causes himself harm.  “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20). 

Dealing with the Fool:

       Wise men often do not answer the fool because he’s not teachable; though there are times the fool needs to be corrected so that his false estimation of himself does not go unchecked.  Wise men leave the presence of the fool, as there is no benefit to his company.  When one encounters a fool, there are several things one should do depending on the encounter. 

  1. Once a fool is identified, don’t provoke him, or you will bring grief on yourself.  “A stone is heavy and the sand weighty, but the provocation of a fool is heavier than both of them” (Prov. 27:3). 
  2. Avoid speaking in the presence of a fool, or at least keep your words few.  “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (Prov. 23:9).  Fools despise wisdom, so they despise those who speak and live by wisdom. 
  3. Don’t answer the fool in the midst of his foolishness.  “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him” (Prov. 26:4).  It is foolish to try to correct the fool, and is itself a display of folly that reveals a lack of biblical understanding.
  4. There are times to address the fool so that he does not think himself wise.  “Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes” (Prov. 26:5).  This type of correction does not seek to correct the fool, but only his false estimation of himself.  Wisdom discerns when to answer the fool. 
  5. Lastly, make the conscious decision to leave the presence of the fool in order to spare yourself any pain.  “Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge” (Prov. 14:7).  This is because “the foolishness of fools is deceit” and there is no truth in their speech (Prov. 14:8b). 

Steven R. Cook, M. Div. 

Related article: Biblical Wisdom  

[1] Allen C. Myers, “Fool”, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 390.

[2] J. Dwight Pentecost, Designed to Be Like Him: Understanding God’s Plan for Fellowship, Conduct, Conflict, and Maturity (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 55.

[3] Merrill Frederick Unger, R. K. Harrison, Howard Frederic Vos et al., “Fool”, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988).

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