Proverbs 29 offers an opportunity to examine and consider the character of the proud, foolish scoffer and a man of wisdom (Proverbs 29:8-9, 11).
Proverbs 29:8 – “Scornful [scoffers; proud; haughty] men bring [huff and puff; kindle a fire] a city into a snare [note – same word as “bring” = kindle a fire; utters lies]: but wise men [good; wise-hearted men; intelligent] turn away wrath [anger; lit. flaring of the nose].”
The scoffer is a trouble to himself, his family and friends. Like an arsonist setting a building ablaze; the words and actions of a scoffer inflames emotions. His lies and deceptions kindle a fire of trouble for those close to him. By contrast, a wise man understands the power of well-chosen, timely words and, like a surgeon with a scalpel; he skillfully addresses the raging fool.
Solomon warns that reasoning with a contentious fool seldom brings peace to a family or friendship (29:9).
Proverbs 29:9 – “If a wise man contendeth [judges; reasons] with a foolish man [silly; quarrelsome; immoral], whether he rage [tremble; troubled] or laugh [indicating scorn; derision; mocking], there is no rest [quietness].”
Why is their “no rest” for those in the throes of conflict with a fool? Because, unlike the wise man who hears and heeds wise counsel, the fool rages and scorns those who reason with him.
Proverbs 29:11 – “A fool [lit. “fat headed” = self-confident, immoral] uttereth all his mind [lacks discretion; speaks in anger]: but a wise man [shrewd; skillful in the use of knowledge;] keepeth it in [praise or commendation; to still or soothe] till afterwards.”
A wise man exercises restraint and discretion with his words, but a fool lacks both. The wise know when to speak and went to be silent (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b), while the fool rages—unrestrained in his words and provocations.
Some reading this devotional blog might be ensnared in a contentious relationship with a fool. You are physically exhausted, emotionally drained and spiritually consumed by a conflict with someone you love.
I urge you to heed Solomon’s counsel: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him” (Proverbs 26:4). In a manner of speaking, don’t respond to a fool in the same way he/she addresses you. Don’t argue with them. Don’t return insult for insult. Don’t become entangled with them.
I close with the apostle Paul’s exhortation regarding how we should communicate with others.
Ephesians 4:29-32 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”