Men with Less Hope Than a Fool
by Wade Webster
It is a terrible thing to be classified as a fool by God. Through His word God warns that the fool will perish (Psalms 49:10), fall (Proverbs 10:8, 10), be put to shame (Proverbs 3:35), receive stripes (Proverbs 19:29), be afflicted (Psalms 107:17), and die (Proverbs 10:21). All of these punishments make clear that God has “no pleasure in fools” (Ecclesiastes 5:4). To be a fool is to be without hope. Yet, Solomon points out two men who have even less hope than a fool.
The Man Who is Wise in His Own Eyes
Solomon wrote, “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 26:12). Throughout the Bible, God warns man not to trust his own wisdom. Earlier in Proverbs, Solomon wrote, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7). Isaiah declared, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21). In like manner, Paul penned, “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits” (Romans 12:16). One only has to remember the examples of Nadab & Abihu and the children of Israel to see the devastating effects of choosing one’s own way (Leviticus 10:1-3; Judges 17:6). We must realize as Jeremiah did “that the way of man is not in himself” and that “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). We must learn to cease from our own wisdom (Proverbs 23:4). Likewise, we must learn not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Romans 12:3). Unless we follow God’s wisdom and not our own, there is more hope for a fool than us.
The Man Who is Hasty in Words
Solomon wrote, “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 29:20). The man that is hasty in his words is going to say many things that he ought not to say. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote, “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2). Likewise, James wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). The “heart of the righteous studieth to answer” that he might not sin with his mouth (Proverbs 15:28). He realizes that the tongue has the power of “life and death” within it (Proverbs 18:21). Although he realizes that the tongue can be controlled, he knows that he must never become over confident in his ability to control it (James 3:8). He is careful not to be hasty with his tongue because he realizes that the man “that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life” (Proverbs 13:3). He remembers that “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). He knows that if he is hasty to speak, he will sin with his mouth, and that there will be more hope for a fool than for him.
How sad it is that many people in our world today have less hope of enjoying eternal life than a fool does. As we have noticed, those who are trying to find their own way to heaven and those who are hasty with their mouths are worse off than a fool. May men learn to forsake their own way, choose the Lord’s way, and to keep their mouths and their lives from evil.
Source: The Searcher, November 9, 2008.