Our "proverb poem" about dealing with a fool continues today. Yesterday we ended with a seeming contradiction: don't answer fools or you'll be considered a fool and answer fools so that they don't continue in their folly. The poetic imagery continues in the next set of verses:
It is like cutting off one’s foot and drinking down violence, to send a message by a fool. The legs of a disabled person hang limp; so does a proverb in the mouth of a fool. It is like binding a stone in a sling to give honor to a fool. Like a thornbush brandished by the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. Like an archer who wounds everybody is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard. Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who reverts to his folly. Do you see persons wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for fools than for them. (Prov. 26:6-12)
I think, in part, what Solomon is saying in many of these verses is someone who is a fool will act according to type all the time - so don't expect them to be any different. Solomon never really defines "fool" for us, though. A fool is not someone who is uneducated; an uneducated person can be wise and the most highly educated can be a fool. A fool is someone who lives his or her life contrary to God's ways of wisdom. Prov. 14:1 says: "The fool a says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good."
Meditation: Focus on the last verse in particular. Why would Solomon, after repeatedly criticizing the actions and thoughts of a fool, say there is more hope for fools than for people who are wise in their own eyes? Could it be that when we think we have all the answers, we forget to turn to God for anything and even drown out God's voice? The fool may say in his heart there's no God - but then someday find out he was wrong. The man who believes himself to be wise may know there's a God - and think God unnecessary.