Don’t Act Like a Fool – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. In Proverbs 10:8 (printed below) how is a fool described in contrast to a wise man?

The wise in heart will accept commandments, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. (Proverbs 10:8)

In contrast to the wise man, a fool will not receive instruction; he will not accept the counsel of God: “How long will…fools hate knowledge?… (29)… they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear Jehovah—(30) they would not accept any of my advice, they despised my rebuke.” (Proverbs 1:22c, 29-30) By contrasting “the wise in heart” with “a chattering fool,” this proverb is emphasizing the fact that a fool is more interested in expressing himself than in receiving sound biblical instruction.

2. What does Proverbs 15:5 (printed below) tell us about a fool?

A fool despises his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds rebuke acquires prudence. (Proverbs 15:5)

The Hebrew term sometimes translated “instruction,” also includes correction and discipline; it is the parental training that is intended to shape a son’s character in the way of righteousness. A fool “despises” such training: he resists it, rejects it, and disregards it as something that is of no value to him. Why? Because the fool has no interest in being instructed and trained, his chief interest is in expressing his heart: “A fool has no delight in understanding; his only concern is to express his heart.’ (Proverbs 18:2)

3. Consider Proverbs 28:26 (printed below.) What does this proverb say about the man who trusts in his own heart—a man who is identified as a fool?

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be kept safe. (Proverbs 28:26)

A fool puts his confidence in the impulses, feelings, and desires of his own heart: if it “feels right” he will just do it. The fool chooses to make his heart his standard and authority in the place of the Word of God. In so doing he follows a subjective, personalized standard as opposed to the objective, divinely authoritative standard of God’s Word.

4. What does Proverbs 14:16 (printed below) tell us about a fool’s conduct?

A wise man fears and turns away from evil; but the fool behaves arrogantly and is confident. (Proverbs 14:16)

In contrast to the wise man whose life and conduct are governed by godly fear, the fool is characterized by reckless neglect and a confidence that defies all godly warning against sin and its deadly consequences. This proverb literally says that the fools allows himself “to go beyond” the proper limits, “being confident” that no harm will befall him, being confident that God will protect him and spare him from the consequences of his presumptuous behavior. The message of this proverb is well summarized by the adage: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

5. What does Proverbs 19:3 (printed below) tell us about the consequences of a man’s foolishness? But how does that man react to those consequences?

A man’s own foolishness ruins his life; nevertheless, his heart rages against Jehovah. (Proverbs 19:3)

A man’s own foolishness and folly ruin his life—his own sinful choices or sinful reactions to trials and circumstances may bring his life to ruin. But rather than acknowledge his own responsibility or yield to the Lord’s will, the fool’s heart “rages against Jehovah”—the faithful, covenant-keeping God. The fool seeks to put the blame on God: fretting and even raging against the Lord when He withholds His blessing, or when He exercises His prerogative to bring trials into a man’s life, or when He in His justice causes the man to reap the consequences of his own foolish choices.