A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, but knowledge is easy to him who understands. Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit. Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor. (Proverbs 14:6–9—NKJV)

A fool has a weakness. His foolishness will become evident to a watching world, though his foolishness may not always be recognized for what it is by those who are themselves fools. Solomon spends a great deal of time in Proverbs distinguishing between foolishness and wisdom. We would be wise to learn his lessons.

In verse 8 the fool is described by a Hebrew word for dullness, a dullard. His folly is more fully described as an attitude of confidence married to latent weakness. The full weight of a fool’s folly is borne out in the Hebrew word for deceit, meaning something relaxed, loosened, deceiving, and causing to fail. It can be illustrated by a bowman of Solomon’s day, picking up a trusty bow, which upon inspection, appears to be in working order, but when put to the test of launching an arrow is found to be useless because the bowstring has lost its tautness. Simply, the apparent overconfidence of the foolish dullard is deceptive. His lack of teachability is his weakness.

I am fascinated by Solomon’s similitudes describing the differences between wisdom and fools. Leading up to verse 6, he has already described several qualities of foolishness: 1) Foolishness destroys his own; 2) Foolishness willfully avoids fearing the Lord; 3) The fool speaks words that are undependable and immature (a flexible twig); 4) The fool has no real harvest for lack of spiritual strength; 5) The fool makes subterfuge his habit.

As you review the verses at the top of this page, notice that Solomon builds on the fool’s qualities found in verses 1 through 5. Foolishness of heart produces a proud, mocking spirit which makes the fool unable to recognize the virtues of truth. He seeks wisdom but cannot find it, because mockery causes him to diminish and set at naught real wisdom. His folly of mockery requires that he prevail by cutting down to less than his own size anything which stands in his way, no matter what the cost. (Verse 6)

The next quality of a fool is that his speech betrays his emptiness to the discerning ear of the spiritually wise man. The very nature of his foolish counsel is described for us here as words that are obstinate, unmovable, and overweight brought on by inactivity. His foolish counsel is to no virtuous purpose. (Verse 7)

Solomon then brings us to the verse that contains our subject of the folly of fools, and teaches us that a fool’s appearance is deceiving. The reason for this is laid out for us in that the fool rejects the only answer to his soul’s need. A fool mocks (derides, cuts down to size, diminishes) sin. The Hebrew word for sin is the word guilt. It is expressive of the overwhelming soul-guilt for trespassing God’s holy law. It is also a word that is associated with the Old Testament sacrifice for the soul’s guilt of moral trespass—the guilt offering. For a fool, nothing is sacred but his own image, and therefore there is no room for accountability to God. His overconfident bravado betrays his brazen foolishness from which all who are spiritually wise must run. His weakness will be made known at the judgment, but is hinted at by his lack of teachability, humility, and his lack of spiritual fruit. (Verse 9)

Real wisdom builds its own (v. 1); it maintains integrity in the fear of the Lord (v. 2); its words are seasoned and true (v. 3); it produces a harvest (v. 4); truth is its habit (v. 5); it maintains a teachable spirit, leading to discernment (v. 6); it does not abide foolishness (v. 7); it sets the course for a man (v. 8); and divine wisdom humbles a man in his need, so that he finds gracious favor and delight from the Lord.

How does your life tend this day? Are you on the straight and narrow led by the wisdom from God above, or are you turned aside from God’s truth and bogged down in the mire of fools? Humbly repent of your trespasses and be wise. Trust and obey.