Monday, September 18, 2006

being a fool ain’t what it used to be

I have been reading and rereading Proverbs (I am waiting for it to sink in – might take a few more times.) where the word fool occurs quite frequently. What do you think of when you hear the word fool? Most of us think of a simpleton, someone not too smart. Sort of like Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges, or Lou Costello of Abbott and Costello. Maybe the twit Bertie Wooster of Jeeves and Wooster fame? The OT uses the term fool sixty plus times. While I have not undertaken an exhaustive study of the multiple Hebrew words translated as fool, I do find the OT use of fool does not seem to fit our modern usage particularly well. What we mean by fool is more akin to simple, a word also found in English translations of Proverbs. A simpleton and a fool seem to be quite different in OT usage of the terms.

OT use of fool often denotes a vile person, devoid of or lacking moral character. Is there a modern term with that connotation?

The best I can think of is a jerk. If I told you the guy dating your sister is a jerk, you probably would assume I was speaking of his lack of character rather than his lack of brainpower. A great OT example is Abigail’s husband Nabal, man referred to in Scripture as a fool (1 Sam 25:25). Nabal was not a simpleton, but he was a first class jerk.

Check out these verses and see if they work:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but jerks despise wisdom and discipline.
~ Proverbs 1:7

He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a jerk.
~ Proverbs 10:18

A jerk finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.
~ Proverbs 10:23

The way of a jerk seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
~ Proverbs 12:15

A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a jerk is hotheaded and reckless.
~ Proverbs 14:16

A jerk finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.
~ Proverbs 18:2

It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every jerk is quick to quarrel.
~ Proverbs 20:3

Like tying a stone in a sling is the giving of honor to a jerk.
~ Proverbs 26:9

See what I mean?

Proverbs was given to give wisdom to the simple (Pr. 1:4). It is also used by God to point out what a jerk is but it takes the conviction of the HS for a real jerk to get it.


thisrequiresthought said...

very insightful
and funny.

Pat Noble said...

How about this one. Not from scripture but it is often quoted by Christians.

"He is no fool (jerk) who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
- Jim Elliot