Last week I began the final edit of a book for a friend. It’s a delight to read and an easy work to revise. He has the gift of words and, specifically, of writing. If I weren’t a servant of God, I’d be tempted to envy. He makes reading a joy, and learning a pleasure.
Not everyone has such a gift, and that’s a fine thing, since it’s God’s plan. But some people have what might be called an anti-gift.
Proverbs 26 enlightens the reader about the actions of fools. Among them is the use of a proverb in the mouth of fools. They are not only inept, their bad usage screeches against the ear.
Like legs that hang limp from the lame, so is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard, so is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
Proverbs 26.7, 9
The fool makes listening painful. Not only does he not make sense, he makes nonsense. He causes pain.
Such grating use of words and of the proverb makes your average Joe ask how he can avoid such foolishness. Here are some paths to pursue.
First, recognize the need for wisdom. The proper creation and use of a proverb demands it. A proverb is a pithy expression of wisdom. One does not create them from air, nor can they be used without proper understanding. See wisdom’s value. “How much better it is to acquire wisdom than gold; to acquire understanding is more desirable than silver” Proverbs 16.16.
Second, learn by listening. Hear the words of the wise. Observe what they say and how they speak. Much listening must occur before one gains the knowledge and the right to speak. It all starts by “making your ear attentive to wisdom” Proverbs 2.2.
Third, ask God for help. “But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him” James 1.5. The author’s context is trials of one’s faith. Fools have no idea how to consider life’s afflictions. They come up with all sorts of twisted explanations.
Fourth, consult the source of wisdom, the Bible. Read it often. Memorize it. For all the talk about the Bible, few actually give it the serious study it requires. This lack of attention is true foolishness. In Scripture is the best kind of wisdom, that leads to salvation, 2 Timothy 3.15.
Fifth, prepare ahead of time. Proverbs may look simple, but they can contain complex thoughts. Boiling down a truth into a proverb isn’t for weak stomachs. Here, the hard pursuit of wisdom applies. “… seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God” Proverbs 2.4-5.
Don’t be a fool when it comes to the use of proverbs. Be wise, and the proverbs will roll off the tongue with a blessing for all who hear.