Pearls From Proverbs

By Irvin Himmel

A Fool In Focus

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise (Prov. 12:15).

Here the wise man brings into focus the typical attitude of a fool. Let us ponder the proverb and think on its practical application.

Characteristics Of A Fool

(1) A fool refuses to listen to reason, No one can teach him anything. He will not listen. He is headstrong. He feels that others ought to listen to him, for he is “right in his own eyes. ” It is an insult to his intelligence to suggest that he might be in error on some point.

Advice is that which a fool never takes. He feeds on flattery. He had rather die than think or reason.

(2) A fool imagines that he is never wrong. He is “wise in his own eyes” (Prov. 3:7). Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa. 5:21) The fool sees all his ways as right. He despises others, especially if they attempt to convince him that he is wrong about anything.

How frustrating it is to deal with someone whose mind is like concrete – thoroughly mixed and firmly set!

(3) A fool is prejudiced by self-esteem. The root of his problem is conceit. “The greater fools are those that have the highest opinion of their own wisdom. Their self-esteem disposes them to neglect the advice of others, and to prosecute their own schemes, however foolish and dangerous, till they meet with fatal disappointments, which, after all, can hardly open their eyes, clean shut with pride and vanity” (George Lawson).

There is no bigger fault than blindness to one’s own faults. Prejudice is the fool’s substitute for thinking.

(4) A fool imprisons himself in his own ignorance. There is no greater hindrance to attaining wisdom than the notion that one already has all there is. How harmful is the folly that closes the door on the freedom that one could have through wisdom. Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). But so many of the Lord’s hearers acted as fools; they saw but they did not see; they heard but they did not hear (Matt. 13:13-15). Prejudice was the lock on their prison-house of ignorance.

The fool sees himself as an enlightened man; God sees the darkness that hovers over his heart. The fool considers himself to be free; God knows that he is enslaved by ignorance. The fool sees himself as right in his actions; God pronounces him wicked.

(5) A fool feels sufficient in himself. Not only does he reject advice from other people, he rejects the counsel of God. “True wisdom derives from God and is to be found alone in Him. To neglect the source of true wisdom leaves open only one other source, namely, the unaided human mind, and that wisdom which comes from the human mind does not originate with God” (Edward J. Young).

Jeremiah said it best: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). It is the part of wisdom to acknowledge that man does not have all the answers; we must look to God’s revelation, the Bible, to find direction for our faltering steps.

Value Of Counsel

A fool remains a fool because he will not admit the need for advice. In contrast, “he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

This does not mean that all counsel should be heeded. The Bible gives many examples of bum advice that people received. Job’s wife advised him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). Job had the good sense to reject such foolish counsel. Rehoboam did a foolish thing when he forsook the counsel of the old men and acted according to the advice of the young men (1 Kgs. 12).

All advice should be carefully weighed as to its source and its soundness.

“It is our wisdom to value the instruction and counsels of ministers, of parents and Christian friends, particularly of experienced and aged saints. But they must be able to prove the goodness of their advices by the Scriptures, which are the great and only rule to direct us to our chief end” (George Lawson).

The right counsel will bring needed reformation. Good advice will help us to avoid many pitfalls. The reception of sound suggestions and criticisms will aid in the solving of many problems and overcoming difficulties.

Guardian of Truth XXX: 12, p. 369
June 19, 1986