Why study Proverbs 3? This chapter is one of the most excellent in all this book as it teaches us to be wise, discerning, and gives us directions on how to bring it about. It begins with these words “My child.” And we are all children—But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children [John]. As God’s children we need wisdom and counsel to direct our steps, our thinking and our decisions. The author Solomon begins by stating two commands in verse one that every child should heed. (1) Do not forget his teaching and (2) Let your heart keep my commandments.
Jesus taught that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. [Matt] What is this heart; what is the underlying meaning? It is the inner man, the center for our moral, spiritual, intellectual life. Thus it encompasses who we are. Our heart can be uncircumcised or circumcised; it can be hardened or softened; wicked or pure; deceitful and desperately wicked defiling our entire being or it can be renewed by God’s love and grace making it tender towards him and his love.
Chapter 3 is thus filled with precepts and principles that will guide us and it all begins in the heart. If we choose to follow that step we will be rewarded to see this truth: Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless hisways! It is because of that principle we can trust that although our own understanding may lead us astray God’s never will because he plainly says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Is 55]. That is why we can trust in Him to guide us in the proper direction, to instill in us the proper understanding. God would never lead his own children astray! Remember this truth: God may not reveal to us each step we take but asks us to trust Him as we take each step. It is then that we can know without a shadow of doubt that “he will make our paths straight.”
Today we open the most precious Holy Word and read Prov 26. King Solomon in his wisdom has given us a chapter dedicated to helping us see with our eyes and mind that we may be discerning.
We have two English words that we can interchange: fool and dullard, which in Hebrew is the word [kesil]. The Jewish Study Bible defines it as: “The dullard is not merely a man of low intelligence. He is the kind of fool who is obtuse [that is not quick or alert in perception, author’s addition] because of smug overconfidence.” Why should we study the “fool or dullard?” Pro 10:13 “Wisdom is found in the words of the discerning person…” Discernment is a gift that God has rightly given to those who are serious about being wise. Solomon prayed for such discernment in 1Kings 3:9 “So give your servant a discerning mind…” Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil. “Just as our Lord did not forbid us from discerning the character of fools, the Book of Proverbs commends this assessment as a necessity for those who would be wise.” [Bob Deffinbaugh]
Prov 26: The Characteristics of the Dullard: 1-7: Because he is unwise, it is not fitting that he should receive positions of honor in which decisions for country and kingdom are needed. He has neither the skills nor the wisdom to make just decisions. Vs 3: they only say a fool/dullard learns is by the “school of hard knocks” and even then it must be as something that is not just once but ongoing! Vs 4 & 5 seem to be contradictory at first but at second glance we learn that there are times when a response is neither warranted or needed because it would only lead to further folly or there are times when we must answer them to protect them and ourselves. Vs. 6 and Vs 9 is a warning similar to Matt 7: 6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces.” A fool/dullard has no ability to appreciate or consider God’s Word as holy nor does he seek that. ICor 1:18 “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” Why is this? Vs 7 “he handles an aphorism about as well as a lame man can walk. The fool does not understand, has not implemented, and cannot explain the proverb. It is useless to him even though he repeats it.”
Prov 26: The Folly/Actions of the Fool: 8-12 vs 8: it is counterproductive to honor a fool just as it is so giving power and honor to one who is unprepared. Vs 10 he who hires a fool reaps what he has sown; a costly and foolish undertaking—folly! Vs 12 sums up this section. The dullard/fool is self conceited in his own eyes and although you spend generous amounts of time seeking to make him wise it appears to be a lost endeavor. They are smugly overconfident.
So what is the question we must ask ourselves today? Remember this principle when you read this chapter: The fool has many plans but God is the author and orchestrator of that which will bring about His work. If we are a parent it would be wise for us to discern if our children are leaning in this way recalling the wisdom of: Prov 22:6 “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” Or if this chapters speaks to ourselves and we see our reflection in the mirror it would be wise for us not to walk away as James indicates we might, and remain in our “folly.” We would be wise to learn from the character and consequences of the dullard and then implement strategies to be discerning. Here are two helps: 2Tim 3:16-17 “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.” Psa 119:11 “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You”