“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”
Some proverbs, such as this one, are pretty simple and straightforward. But on the other hand, as some product warning labels make abundantly clear, what should be obvious to most needs to be spelled out to others. Here are some examples:
- “Don’t drive with shade in place” (warning on inside of cardboard sunscreen).
- “Not for drying pets” (warning for microwave).
- “Surface may be hot when turned on” (stove instruction manual).
- “May cause a fire” (warning on box of matches).
If there were no stupid people in the world, the above warnings would be unnecessary. However, I am sure there have been people amazed when their hands were burned on a stove eye or by a match. I am positive that someone tried to sue a company because the microwave killed her wet cat.
In this proverb God has placed a warning label on stupid people. Yes, I said “stupid” people, for that is what the word translated “foolish” (סִיל – kesil) actually implies. The Lord wants us to know that it is not good to just stand and listen to what fools have to say, especially when you realize that what they are saying is void of any knowledge.
So, to put this proverb another way, “When you find yourself in the presence of a stupid idiot, don’t bother listening to what he has to say; walk away.”
Now, it may seem ridiculous to make such a statement, but consider why it is important to not listen to what a fool has to say:
- A fool does not accept instruction, so arguing with him is pointless.
- A fool would love to frustrate you and make you angry as you try to argue your point.
- If you listen to a fool long enough you might begin to believe the stupidity he preaches.
Lord, we need wisdom to be discerning. Help us to recognize those who lack words of knowledge. Help us to know when to contend and when to walk away. Help us to know the difference between a fool and someone who is open to the truth.
 Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 493.
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