Wise or foolish? Proverbs 10-29


You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom. – Charles Spurgeon

Proverbs aims to impart wisdom to those who lack it, and from the start Proverbs stresses that wisdom begins with the fear of God. How do you interpret this claim?

  • Would you say that all wisdom comes from God?
  • Must one be in a right relationship with God to be wise?

First of all, the wisdom that Proverbs promotes is wisdom that leads to righteousness in a very practical sense. The understanding and discernment it teaches lead to actions that bring about right living. It isn’t about theory but actual choices between right and wrong. With that in mind, it is clear that a right relationship with God founded on correct choices begins with a sure confidence in the existence of God and in his judgment upon those who reject his way.

Personified concepts are very important in the opening of the book. The two main characters are Wisdom and Folly, both portrayed as women, both taking up prominent positions in the center of the community, and both making a claim for the hearts of the readers. Lady Wisdom offers three invaluable assets to those who follow her: intellect, morality, and power. Yet many rashly choose Folly even though she only offers the lure of illicit pleasure.

The idea of foolishness is just as important in Proverbs as the quality of wisdom. There are three kinds of fools we read about. There is the simple one, young and uneducated about the tenets of wisdom, naive and gullible, but still having the ability to learn and change. There is the fool, old enough to know better but carrying on with dull, stupid, and silly ways. The third fool is the mocker, who has not only rejected wisdom but now boasts of his scorn and actively opposes understanding. Do you see the downward spiral?

Beginning in chapter 10, the book uses short sayings that use three methods to drive home their point. The first method is contrast using the keyword “but”. “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” The second method is comparison with the words “is” or “is like”. “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” The third method is completion using “and”. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives.”

The wisdom of Proverbs is not theoretical but practical. It means nothing if it isn’t practiced. God’s word hits the nitty-gritty of our wishes and wham! Choices must be made.

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered Proverbs 10-29. Next week I will write about Proverbs 30-Isaiah 8. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering Proverbs 10-29.

Giving and Getting: Proverbs 11-12

Healing your heart: Proverbs 13-15

Man’s will and God’s rule: Proverbs 16

Unhappy in marriage: Proverbs 19

Rich man, poor man: Proverbs 22-23

A field guide to fools: Proverbs 26

Economics 101: Proverbs 27