Today’s proverbs address the nature of a fool and his certain end (Proverbs 17:10-11).
The “foolishness of youth” is an old adage adults use to summarize the actions of youth who defy authority and pursue the temporal pleasures of sin with abandon. Granted, there is a certain foolishness and naivety bound in the heart of youth [in fact, Solomon has a solution for that problem—“the rod” – Proverbs 22:15; 23:13]. Foolishness; however, is not exclusive to youth. Fools come in all shapes, sizes and ages. There are young fools and old fools; poor fools and rich fools; infamous fools and famous fools. Some fools are simple, silly and immature; some are thick-headed, stubborn and unwilling to hear or heed instruction and correction.
It is the latter, the thick-headed fool who has a propensity to do evil and make immoral choices, of whom Solomon writes:
Proverbs 17:10 – “A reproof [rebuke] entereth[stick; settles; descend] more into a wise man [understanding; prudent] than an hundred stripes into a fool [stupid; silly; immoral].”
Solomon states that a “wise man”, prudent, sincere and understanding need only be rebuked and he will desist from his error. The fool, however, will learn nothing though he suffer many times over for his sin. Pity the father and mother of such a fool! Pity the nation that believes “re-education” in a prison system designed to teach a fool rather than punish him will turn him from his evil ways. A fool is callous to punishment and rehab will not affect his heart or course.
Like the fool, an “evil man”, the subject of Proverbs 17:11, follows a rebel’s path to his own ruin.
Proverbs 17:11 – “An evil [wicked; sinful] man seeketh [strives after; desires] only rebellion [against human authority and God]: therefore a cruel [showing no mercy] messenger [civil authority, i.e. judge] shall be sent against him [for the purpose of punishing him].”
The wicked seem impervious to the inevitability of God’s justice and punishment. They sometimes appear to prosper regardless of the sorrow and suffering they have perpetuated on those who cross their paths. Solomon, however, assures his son “a cruel [merciless] messenger [judge]” will punish the wicked for his sin.
My friend, it is a great error to believe the wicked prosper because it seems justice is not served in a timely manner. I remind you that, though civil authority may fail to render justice and a corrupt judicial system appears to reward the wicked—God’s justice is not limited to man’s interpretation or this earthly life. The unwelcome “messenger” of justice may be sickness, disease, personal loss, sorrow and judgment before the throne of God.
Copyright 2014 – Travis D. Smith