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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 23:9 the hearing of a fool

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, January 19, 2019

9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
  for he will despise the wisdom of your words.

The ancient Hebrews gave the name “fool” to the man-shaped constellation we call Orion. I wonder whether this was because that fool only rises after the harvest is over, and he rides high in the sky all through the rainy winter season.

A fool is hard to bear. Talking to him is like trying to mend a broken dish with glue; it will only fall apart again the first time you try to use it (Sirach 22:9). He doesn’t pay attention to what is said; the fool runs away at the mouth like a child, but unlike a child, he never outgrows it. His mouth and his passions always lead him around like a bull with a ring in its nose.

Talking to a fool is like throwing your wisdom into the air with the threshing. Most if it will be lost, and the fool will pick up scraps of what you said and toss them back with all of their meaning gone.

Listen to what the apocryphal Sirach says about the fool:

10 Whoever tells a story to a fool tells it to a drowsy man;
  and at the end he will say, “What is it?”
11 Weep for the dead, for he has left the light behind;
  and weep for the fool, for he has left intelligence behind.
  Weep less bitterly for the dead, for he is at rest;
  but the life of the fool is worse than death.
12 Mourning for the dead lasts seven days,
  but for the foolish or the ungodly it lasts all the days of their lives.
13 Do not talk much with a senseless person
  or visit an unintelligent person.
  Stay clear of him, or you may have trouble,
  and be spattered when he shakes himself off.
  Avoid him and you will find rest,
  and you will never be wearied by his lack of sense.
14 What is heavier than lead?
  And what is its name except “Fool”?
15 Sand, salt, and a piece of iron are easier to bear
  than a stupid person. (Sirach 22:10-15)

The word for “fool” in the Greek translation of this verse is the same one used in the New Testament: aphron, “the not-wise.” Paul’s definition of this person is one who asks, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” (1 Corinthians 15:35). His answer is: “How foolish (aphron)! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (1 Corinthians 15:36). The fool rejects the doctrine of the resurrection because he does not want to imagine his dead body crumbling into dusty decay like a broken seed in the soil. But this must take place, Paul says, so that the new life will come. Death ends the dominion of sin through the victory of Christ. His burial in the grave (Mark 15:46) sanctifies our graves, tombs, urns, or whatever other resting places our bodies might have. Even those Christians whose bodies are lost in the sea or in space or in the savagery of war will be raised, for even Moses’ body is known to God, even though no one else knows what happened to him or where he is buried (Deuteronomy 34:6).

God’s judgment on fools, especially those who turn away from him, is clear: “hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Should you not fear me? declares the Lord. Should you not tremble in my presence?” (Jeremiah 5:21-22).

If I am to be a fool, let me be foolish in the eyes of the world rather than in the eyes of God. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). What better thing have we than the power and promise of God? We have the cross for our very own; the resurrection will be ours, and heaven is our certainty. Thanks be to Jesus, who suffered at the hands of fools to give us everlasting life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



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