There is no rest

When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest. ~Proverbs 29:9 NASB

ArgueFamed American author Mark Twain once remarked, “Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

Who is a foolish person, according to the scriptures? In the book of Proverbs, fools are described as those who:

  • despise wisdom and instruction (1:7)
  • hate knowledge (1:22)
  • are complacent (1:32)
  • display dishonor (3:35)
  • bring grief to their mother (10:1)
  • spread slander (10:18)
  • die for lack of understanding (10:21)
  • think of wickedness as a sport (10:23)
  • will serve the wise (11:29)
  • can’t conceal their anger (12:16)
  • proclaim and display folly (12:23, 13:16)
  • bring harm to their companions (13:20)
  • tear down their own household (14:1)
  • mock at sin (14:9)
  • are arrogant and careless (14:16)
  • are quick-tempered (14:17)
  • reject their father’s discipline (15:5)
  • despise their mother (15:20)

Proverbs 29:9 correctly predicts that a fool will either rage or laugh when his inferior knowledge or intellect are exposed. He cannot win on the merits of his position, and he knows it. He resorts to deflection by way of an angry tirade or laughing, as if his opponent’s position is completely absurd.

Arguing with a fool is a complete waste of your time. Fools lack integrity. There can be no constructive conversation with them until they repent of their folly. Indeed, there is no rest.

Have you ever been the fool? Ponder today whether or not the Lord ever looks at you as displaying the character flaws listed above. Give thanks to your heavenly father for his forgiveness and mercy as you seek godly wisdom today.

How do you see yourself?

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. ~Proverbs 26:12 ESV

Read the BibleThis verse promises that a fool has a brighter future than a person who thinks too highly of their own human wisdom and insight. As dismal as life can be for a reckless person who pays no attention to God or his precepts for living, the person who relies on his or her own human wisdom has even more difficulties ahead.

Without condemning education or learning, this scripture exhorts you to seek godly wisdom, rather than godless wisdom. In Isaiah 5:20-21, the Lord offers an even stronger warning to those who are certain of their own wisdom:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

In Matthew 23:12, Jesus explains that people who boast of their own importance will be humbled by God, while those who have a modest view of themselves will be lifted up by the Lord:

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

The message of Proverbs 26:12 is to seek the wisdom that comes from meditating upon God’s word, rather than relying on your own intelligence or learning. How will you humble yourself today before the wisdom of the One True Living God?

Walk with the wise

He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm. ~Proverbs 13:20 NASB

Have you memorized any of the scriptures?The book of Proverbs includes many references to the bad consequences of foolishness. “The fool” – a person who consistently ignores and disregards God’s ways – suffers constantly, both from the consequences of his own sin, as well as the natural consequences of not understanding how the world works.

As you read through the Bible, you can walk with the wise. Through the scriptures, you can read the very words of Jesus. You can learn the stories of people like Moses, Abraham, David, and Paul. As you read (or listen, if you prefer), the Holy Spirit will help you understand the stories.

In 1 Corinthians 15:33, the Lord reminds you that it’s all too easy to be influenced negatively by those with lesser moral standards:

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Similarly, Proverbs 13:20 serves as a reminder that it’s easier to let godly wisdom rub off on you than it is to influence foolish people for the good. Don’t be deceived: You probably have a good deal less influence over that foolish friend than you imagine.

Psalm 90:12 speaks to this dilemma:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

You have a limited amount of time on this earth. Are you gaining a heart of wisdom today by spending time with the Lord in prayer and in his word?

What did you say?

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions. ~Proverbs 10:11 NLT

Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding, but those lacking sense will be beaten with a rod. ~Proverbs 10:13 NLT

Wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites disaster. ~Proverbs 10:14 NLT

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. ~Proverbs 10:19 NLT

The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless. ~Proverbs 10:20 NLT

The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense. ~Proverbs 10:21 NLT

The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice, but the tongue that deceives will be cut off. ~Proverbs 10:31 NLT

The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words. ~Proverbs 10:32 NLT

What did you say?In chapter 10, the book of Proverbs shifts emphasis from avoiding immoral behavior to contrasting godly and ungodly words. Excerpted above are eight verses from chapter 10 that fit this theme of words.

These eight verses compare the words of a wise, godly person with the words of a wicked, foolish person. Proverbs 18:21 says, in part, “The tongue has the power of life and death…” You can see both at work in this chapter: some words lead to life. Others lead just as inevitably to death.

Verse 19 sums it all up nicely: too many words can be careless. Excercise discretion by keeping it to yourself.

What words are coming out of your mouth? Or appearing in your emails, tweets and Facebook posts? You have the power – literally – of life and death in your words. Ask God to help you choose wisely today.

I would have…

How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you - when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. ~Proverbs 1:22-27 NIV

Fools mock sinThe first chapter of Proverbs is an introduction to collection of wise sayings and insights about both God and people. This passage, however, is a specific warning: those who reject God’s wisdom are, in a very real sense, rejecting God himself.

The first two questions are rhetorical. Simple (foolish) people love their foolish ways. They are comfortable in their foolishness, and are annoyed at the perceived interference of God. Mockers enjoy making fun of God, and fools reject the knowledge of God.

This passage does indicate that God is ready and willing to reconcile with you when you do finally listen. But there is no good news for those who continually reject the Lord’s advice, guidance and wisdom.

When calamity comes upon the person who has rejected God, the Creator himself will laugh at that person’s distress. Overwhelmed by your troubles while you mock God? The Lord will not come to your assistance. Yet even for a mocker and a fool, Psalm 51:17 still promises:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Isaiah 57:15 further reinforces this idea:

For this is what the high and lofty One says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

If you come to the Lord with a broken heart, truly sorry for your disobedience, he will not reject you. He is eager for you to turn from your rebellion and wants reconciliation with you. Ask the Lord for forgiveness and restoration today.