The Wise Fool

Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

While the term “Wise Fool” might seem an oxymoron, it contains more truth than we might want to admit.

Everyone has a bit of fool in them.

No one person is entirely wise in every area of their life. But there are ways not to portray ourselves as fools or keep from doing foolish things. 

The Book of Proverbs alone has more than half of all the appearances of the words fool, fools, foolish, or foolishness. The writers of Proverbs use the word fool as the antonym of the wise. One could ascertain that anytime the fool appears, we should do the direct opposite.

Even though we may all have that bit of fool in us, there are ways to guard and keep it under control. You see, an adage has been used by many throughout the ages based upon this very scripture. 

“Better to be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Being thought a fool, or even acting such, brings some very harsh judgments from God.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Proverbs 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?”

Proverbs 3:35 The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”

Proverbs 9:13 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.”

These verses are a small sample of over eighty references within the Book of Proverbs alone. 

I want to be thought wise, wouldn’t you? It is in that vein I write to you this morning.

To keep silent when I may have a comment or an opinion on a matter does not mean I should always open my mouth. God tells us that to refrain from speaking will put me in company with those counted as wise. 

To take it a step further, I need to search out what it is I may have said to see if it is indeed true and right. A fool grows wise, who will seek answers before they speak.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

Often, the way of a fool is to stand to their beliefs even though they are untested, or worse, untrue. So, the second thing one might do to go from ‘fool’ to ‘wise’ is seeking counsel from a wise person.

The ability to listen to constructive criticism and correction takes character, humility, and a thirst for learning that most fools lack. Remember, it said in Proverbs 1:22, “… fools hate knowledge?”

If fools hate knowledge, we must grow within us a desire to continuously learn and grow. 

Proverbs 13:16 Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.”

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines prudent as:

“PRU’DENT, a. Cautious; circumspect; practically wise; careful of the consequences of enterprises, measures or actions; cautious not to act when the end is of doubtful utility, or probably impracticable.”

Most of us would say it simply means possessing ‘common sense.’

Practical wisdom is not something one comes by or a trait with which you’re born. It is learning from those who have experience and wisdom and finding a way to apply it to our life. 

Just because we may see the presence of foolishness, I pray your heart desires to grow from it to be found wise.



  1. Thanks, Paul. Especially as we move through this Covid virus and people start to get edgier due to confinement, etc. this is especially timely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are all susceptible to succumbing to “cabin fever.” We have tried to make sure to get out (keeping social distancing, of course) for fresh air and much needed vitamin D (sunshine!)


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