Tag Archives: foolishness

Talking To A Brick Wall

Proverbs 27:22

Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him. (KJV)
You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle. (NLT)

talking-to-a-brick-wallWhen you are talking to a fool, it is like talking to a brick wall. Why even bother? If talking to someone is like talking to a brick wall, the person you are speaking to does not listen.

Our verse today explains to us that even when a fool is put under pressure, the foolishness inside them will remain.

The website “Let God Be True” explains our verse this way:

A mortar was a cup-shaped stone vessel that held grain, so it could be pulverized with a pestle, a club-like instrument used to pound the grain. Braying the grain meant to beat, bruise, and crush it to powder. The metaphor is powerful! If you were to smash a fool in a mortar with a pestle, you could not drive away his foolishness and make him wise.

There is only one way for a fool to get rid of his foolishness – to fear the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

Lord, I pray that I will fear you more and more each and every day. I want wisdom to be my present and my future. I don’t want the Lord to see my life and say that it was like talking to a brick wall when He was speaking to me.

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Heeding Jim Croce

Proverbs 26:17

17 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

Helping Out

I once saw someone with her kids and minivan stopped on the side of the road. I had to stop and give them a ride.

She had said she knew someone who could help get the minivan, though she needed it as soon as possible. However, she was having some money issues, so it might be a while.

I had done my duty, and I could have stopped helping her right there. Instead, I called my friend who had a friend, and her van was towed to a garage.

Two days later, she and her kids were out of their apartment. They had been evicted for not paying rent. There were past-due bills stuck to the apartment door.

And I was stuck with the $600 storage and removal fees for her minivan that she never claimed.

Spitting into the Wind

Jim Croce was a folk singer a few decades ago who wrote about this very thing. In his song “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim“, he has these lyrics:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

 In the song, there is a man nobody messes with: Jim. He takes what he wants when we wants, and anyone who gets in his way gets trouble. It would be like grabbing the ears of a dog after you broke into someone’s house.

Jim learned this when he flirted with the wife of a man named “Slim”. He had never heard about Jim, and Jim finally messed with the wrong dog.

Sometimes there are things that come along in lie that common sense warns us is stupid and dangerous. Disregarding common sense in those situations can prove as dangerous as spitting into the wind or grabbing the ears of an angry dog.

Fortunately the Bible helps us understand some of the things that our common sense may not pick up on, and our friends can help us even more. (Which is one of the reasons Hebrews 10:24-25 was written.)

Great God, give us the discernment to know the situations that are not good for us, the wisdom to know when to act and not to act, and the strength to say “No” when we need to.


The Wise Servant

Proverbs 17:2

“A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.” 

The Wise Butler

I wish I could remember the details of it, but years ago I saw a movie that that was like this verse. Of course, the fact that a movie from Hollywood reminds me of a story in Scripture shouldn’t amaze me; many of the plots in movies are stolen from the Bible.

Nevertheless, I remember seeing something about a butler who had to manage a wild, rebellious, reputation-ruining heir. I just can’t remember if the butler wound up with everything, or not.

The Wise Servant

In this proverb we read of a servant who was smart enough to look out for the family’s interests, even if the son only cared about acting the fool. The servant wisely took charge over the unruly son, maybe even saying, “Your daddy put me in charge, so yes, I am the boss of you!

It was not uncommon in those days for a servant to be very close to the members of the family he served. It was not uncommon, even, for a servant to have part in the family’s inheritance  especially if the servant was considered a family member. So, it stands to reason that the wise servant, caring for the family that employed him, might have seen the profit of keeping his master’s son out of trouble.

Sometimes, it was even the case that a servant got everything, but his master got nothing. We read about that happening to Ziba, the former servant of Saul (2 Samuel 16:1-4).

The Shameful Son

There is another way to look at this, however. Even though the son was related by blood to the master, he was still subordinate to the servant. Whether it had to be that way, we don’t know. But the way this verse reads, the son might have been old enough to have been out from under the control of a tutor. He may have been old enough to have been the one to give the orders. Yet, because of his behavior, the servant was placed over him.

Let this be a lesson to us. Even though we may be children of the King, when we act up and begin to bring shame to His name, someone not even in the family may be used to discipline us. And, if it goes far enough, the blessing once due us may even go to someone else.

 


Just Zip It

Proverbs 12:23

“A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.”

My wife has an expression for the person whose mouth opens and gushes forth streams of idiocy which should have remained locked away in the reservoir of the heart.  She calls it, “a case of diarrhea of the mouth.”   Mark Twain must have had the same idea in mind when he famously quipped, “It is better to have people to think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

WHAT IS IT ABOUT US? 

What is it about us, that we think we have to speak even when we have nothing of value to say?  Is it that hearing the sound of our own voice makes us feel important?  Is it that we want to be perceived as intelligent, wise and knowledgeable, able to speak authoritatively concerning any and every subject?  Or is it that we are threatened by silence, as if we must fill the space between us and the others around us with words, lest a moment’s silence should become an awkward void?

A PERSONAL ISSUE FOR PREACHER-TYPES

I submit that the issue of Proverbs 12:23 is of tremendous significance for myself and my fellow “preacher-types.”  We are absolutely the worst when it comes to feeling obligated to fill the air with words.  I have just come away from a Sunday afternoon, pastoral visit with a senior citizen, a widow in my congregation.  She, like many women of her age and station in life, is lonely and doesn’t have company in her home very often.  Therefore when I visit, she enjoys the chance simply to chat away about loved ones, some of whom I know, most of whom I do not.  As she reminisced this afternoon, there was a moment in which I could hear my own voice, rising above hers, commenting on something she had just said.  Maybe I was simply trying to let her know that I was listening, that I was engaged in what she had to say.  But probably not.  It’s more likely that I just couldn’t stand being out-talked for even a few minutes.  I thought to myself, “If I were listening in on this conversation, I would conclude that guy (me!) is quite a jerk.”

IN THE PULPIT

Oh, and how about in the pulpit?!  I once had a seminary professor who warned my class that the greatest danger for preachers in the pulpit is that we’ll be tempted to say things that simply aren’t true—treating biblical principles as promises, projecting guaranteed outcomes, and so forth.  Is that anything other than “proclaiming foolishness”?  I had another seminary prof who often remarked, “Anyone who makes his living from his religion will eventually lose one or the other.”  How many “hireling” preachers have absolutely prostituted their faith in the pulpit, proclaiming foolishness, just to earn a paycheck?

ZIP IT UP

The proverb above tells us quite bluntly:  zip it up!  You don’t have to say everything you think. You don’t have to teach everything you know.  You don’t have to win every argument.  You don’t have to express every opinion.  You don’t have to weigh in on every debate.  If someone asks you for the time, you don’t have to lecture them in the craft of building a grandfather clock. It is far more prudent to keep a reservoir, a storehouse, of wisdom inside, from which you pull out treasures only when necessary (Matthew 13:52).  Knowing our propensity for gabbing when wisdom calls for silence, the great Peter Marshall prayed, “Great questions stand unanswered before us, and defy our best wisdom.  Though our ignorance is great, at least we know we do not know.  When we don’t know what to say, keep us quiet.”

WHAT A WISE MAN!

Twenty years ago I recall an elderly Presbyterian gentleman giving some tidbits of wisdom to me and several other young aspiring pastors.  He said, “Men, for your first year in ministry, at each meeting of Presbytery simply sit and do not say a word.  No matter how important the issue, no matter how heated the debate, no matter how much insight you might have about the subject, for your first year you are to say absolutely nothing on the floor of Presbytery.  After you have completed one year of silence, then you may make your first motion on the floor.  Your first motion should be, ‘I move that we break for coffee and doughnuts.’  Then the entire Presbytery will think of you, ‘What a wise man!’”

 

A wise old owl sat in an oak

The more he saw, the less he spoke

The less he spoke, the more he heard

Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?

 

  Father God:  Give us the grace of silence.  Through Christ our Lord:  Amen. 


A Timely Missing Post

Proverbs 9:6

“Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”

It has been a while since I last wrote a new post for Proverbial Thought, but in the process of re-posting entries I found that Proverbs 9:6 was not only left off the blog, but out of the book! (click here to purchase) That’s terribly embarrassing, especially since all the editing that has been done.

Therefore, this is a web exclusive!

Forsaking

The first word in this verse is an imperative: forsake.  It’s not a word that suggests temporarily turning away, but abandonment. To forsake something is like saying “to heck with you,” turning on one’s heels, walking out the door, slamming it, going to the airport, buying a plane ticket, arriving at the destination, then burning one’s passport.

Why are simple words hard to understand?

Foolish

If you have been reading Proverbs at all, even the least bit, you should be aware what foolishness is. Foolishness is man’s wisdom, not God’s. Foolishness is acting stupidly, even when you know there is a better way. Foolishness is rebellion, selfishness, seeking one’s own way, and never caring where the road leads, just as long as the trip is fun.

The “foolish” we’re commanded to forsake could be a combination of things. The “foolish” could be people, ideas, actions, philosophies, worldviews, attitudes, etc. There are foolish friends, foolish plans, foolish job opportunities, foolish desires, and foolish dreams – all of which lead down a bad road.

Forsake the foolish, and you might survive; don’t, and you’re in trouble.

The Way

The “way of understanding” can be interpreted as the “right” way, or even the way on which wisdom has already walked. It is the way in which people walk who walk in wisdom, seek wisdom, and love wisdom.

When we walk in the “way of understanding” we consider the consequences of each step and the direction we are going. The direction is a 180 away from foolishness.

Living

But why is it that so many are more likely to hold on to the “foolish” rather than travel in the way of understanding? Instead of walking out the door and leaving the old ways behind, why is it that so many are more apt to slam the door from the inside, lock it, and turn up the music? The reason is based on one’s understanding of “living.”

playstationOne beer company is famous for touting the “high life.” Another shows people partying away the night saying, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Everything from hotels to video game systems have encouraged consumers by promising, “This is living!”

Funny. Even kind of ironic, I must say. It’s hard to go down any path when you’ve locked yourself inside with computer game.

Timely?

Yes, this post is technically 2 years late. On the other hand, God knew exactly who would be writing it and what would be going on. As my daughter Katie looked over my shoulder and read the proverb about which I was to write, she said, “Well, that’s timely…”

This week we’ve dealt with foolishness, the foolish, and an unwillingness to forsake it. I have personally witnessed a close family member, blinded by a lack of wisdom, detail a specific plan for destruction. I’ve even faced down a foolish physical threat. Foolishness…simply foolishness.

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. – Proverbs 16:25

Forsake foolishness and live, or shut the door and die. The way is up to you.


Talking To A Brick Wall

Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him. (KJV)

You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle. (NLT)

talking-to-a-brick-wallWhen you are talking to a fool, it is like talking to a brick wall. Why even bother? If talking to someone is like talking to a brick wall, the person you are speaking to does not listen.

Our verse today explains to us that even when a fool is put under pressure, the foolishness inside them will remain.

The website “Let God Be True” explains our verse this way:

A mortar was a cup-shaped stone vessel that held grain, so it could be pulverized with a pestle, a club-like instrument used to pound the grain. Braying the grain meant to beat, bruise, and crush it to powder. The metaphor is powerful! If you were to smash a fool in a mortar with a pestle, you could not drive away his foolishness and make him wise.

There is only one way for a fool to get rid of his foolishness – to fear the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

Lord, I pray that I will fear you more and more each and every day. I want wisdom to be my present and my future. I don’t want the Lord to see my life and say that it was like talking to a brick wall when He was speaking to me.


Heeding Jim Croce

Proverbs 26:17

17 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

Helping Out

I once saw someone with her kids and minivan stopped on the side of the road. I had to stop and give them a ride.

She had said she knew someone who could help get the minivan, though she needed it as soon as possible. However, she was having some money issues, so it might be a while.

I had done my duty, and I could have stopped helping her right there. Instead, I called my friend who had a friend, and her van was towed to a garage.

Two days later, she and her kids were out of their apartment. They had been evicted for not paying rent. There were past-due bills stuck to the apartment door.

And I was stuck with the $600 storage and removal fees for her minivan that she never claimed.

Spitting into the Wind

Jim Croce was a folk singer a few decades ago who wrote about this very thing. In his song “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim“, he has these lyrics:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

 In the song, there is a man nobody messes with: Jim. He takes what he wants when we wants, and anyone who gets in his way gets trouble. It would be like grabbing the ears of a dog after you broke into someone’s house.

Jim learned this when he flirted with the wife of a man named “Slim”. He had never heard about Jim, and Jim finally messed with the wrong dog.

Sometimes there are things that come along in lie that common sense warns us is stupid and dangerous. Disregarding common sense in those situations can prove as dangerous as spitting into the wind or grabbing the ears of an angry dog.

Fortunately the Bible helps us understand some of the things that our common sense may not pick up on, and our friends can help us even more. (Which is one of the reasons Hebrews 10:24-25 was written.)

Great God, give us the discernment to know the situations that are not good for us, the wisdom to know when to act and not to act, and the strength to say “No” when we need to.