Solomon brings into focus the typical attitude of a fool when he wrote. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkens unto counsel is wise” (Prov. 12:15). Let us ponder the proverb and think on its practical application.
Characteristics Of A Fool
(1) A fool refuses to listen to reason, for no one can teach him anything. He will not listen. He is headstrong. He feels that others ought to listen to him, for he is “right in his own eyes.” It is an insult to his intelligence to suggest that he might be in error on some point. Advice is that which a fool never takes. He feeds on flattery. He had rather die than think or reason.
(2) A fool imagines that he is never wrong. He is “wise in his own eyes” (Prov. 3:7). Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa. 5:21) The fool sees all his ways as right. He despises others, especially if they attempt to convince him that he is wrong about anything. How frustrating it is to deal with someone whose mind is like concrete – thoroughly mixed and firmly set!
(3) A fool imprisons himself in his own ignorance. There is no greater hindrance to attaining wisdom than the notion that one already has all there is. How harmful is the folly that closes the door on the freedom that one could have through wisdom. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:32). But so many of the Lord’s hearers acted as fools; they saw but they did not see; they heard but they did not hear (Matt. 13:13-15). Prejudice was the lock on their prison door of ignorance.
The fool sees himself as an enlightened man; God sees the darkness that hovers over his heart. The fool considers himself to be free; God knows that he is enslaved by ignorance. The fool sees himself as right in his actions; God pronounces him wicked.
(4) A fool feels sufficient in himself. Jeremiah said it best: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). It is the part of wisdom to acknowledge that man does not have all the answers; we must look to God’s revelation, the Bible, to find direction for our faltering steps.
Value Of Counsel
A fool remains a fool because he will not admit the need for advice. In contrast, “he that hearkens unto counsel is wise.” This does not mean that all counsel should be heeded. The Bible gives many examples of bum advice that people received. Job’s wife advised him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). Job had the good sense to reject such foolish counsel. Rehoboam did a foolish thing when he forsook the counsel of the old men and acted according to the advice of the young men (1 Kin. 12).
The right counsel will bring needed reformation. Good advice will help us to avoid many pitfalls. The reception of sound suggestions and criticisms will aid in the solving of many problems and overcoming difficulties. If we truly want to be wise, let us adhere to the words of the psalmist David, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps 19:7). As Paul instructed a young Timothy, “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15). “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (Jam 1:5).