Proverbs 19:3

The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.
– Proverbs 19:3

The word for perverteth means to twist, or ruin. The sense of the first phrase is that a man given to folly comes to ruin (Proverbs 13:6). The word for fretteth means to boil, or be enraged. A man’s folly is his own undoing and it kindles his anger against God.

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Proverbs 18:13

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
– Proverbs 18:13

The word for answereth means to turn back, or return. Here it speaks of making a reply to some matter, which is a word or something said. The word for heareth means to hear intelligently. The word refers to listening with understanding, or comprehension. The first phrase speaks of making a hasty reply, or we would say, jumping to conclusions. The proverb speaks of speaking on a matter without knowing what you are talking about and the parallel phrase plainly labels it folly. Such folly leads to shame, or disgrace. It is a disgrace to be so foolish as to speak to something we don’t understand. This proverb pairs well with Proverbs 18:2 and Proverbs 18:17.

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Proverbs 18:1

Chapter 18 continues the “Proverbs of Solomon.” These proverbs continue as primarily two-line parallels and touch on various topics, such as speech, pride, and friends.

Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.

– Proverbs 18:1

This proverb’s wording is a little odd and various renderings have been put forward. The key is in the word for intermeddleth, which means to be obstinate, or against. It can be used to describe a defiant outburst. The desire mentioned is the man’s own desire. In other words, he is self-seeking and self-serving. So the man intent on his own way separates from others because he does not want their advice (Proverbs 12:15).

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Proverbs 17:18

A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.
– Proverbs 17:18

The word for surety means a security, or guaranty. The phrase striketh hands refers to entering into an obligation to pay the debt of another, hence putting up the security, or collateral. The phrase void of understanding could be put more homely as, without a brain. Solomon touched on this in one of his addresses in Proverbs 6:1-5. It is generally portrayed as foolish in Proverbs to become surety and usually comes with negative consequences (Proverbs 11:15).

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Proverbs 17:12

Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.
– Proverbs 17:12

Meeting such a bear would be alarming and threatening, but the proverb shows it’s more dangerous to meet a fool in his folly. A bear robbed of her whelps is a figure in Scripture to express brute strength and terror (2 Samuel 17:8; Hosea 13:8). The proverb doesn’t necessarily liken the fool’s rage to the bear’s. Such a bear cannot be reasoned with, is consumed with venting, and cannot easily be stopped. So it is with a fool in his folly (Proverbs 17:10; 10:23; 18:6; 29:11).

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Proverbs 16:22

Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.
– Proverbs 16:22

The word for understanding means prudence, or good sense. It appears several times in Proverbs and throughout the Old Testament. It was the word used to describe Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:3. We would say she had a good head on her shoulders. Practical wisdom is a life giving blessing (Proverbs 3:22; 14:30), as wellspring of life indicates (Proverbs 10:11; 13:14; 14:27; 18:4). The second phrase is a contrast to the life giving blessing of wisdom. The word for instruction means chastisement, or reproof. Such correction coming from fools is useless, worthless (Proverbs 15:2, 28). If we press the antithetical parallel further, rather than giving life, folly leads to destruction and death (Proverbs 5:23; 14:1).

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Proverbs 15:21

Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
– Proverbs 15:21

Foolishness in Proverbs is a choice, or it is a consequence of rejecting wisdom’s instruction and correction. This proverb identifies folly as joy to those who are destitute of wisdom, or without understanding. Fools delight in folly as a sport and pleasure (Proverbs 10:23; 14:9). The word for understanding means intelligence and reason. It describes one who is skilled in discernment. The word for upright means straight, or direct. The discerning ones deliberately choose the way that is good (Proverbs 14:16; 16:17). This is a man who has good sense and considers the end (Proverbs 22:3).

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Proverbs 14:29

He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
– Proverbs 14:29

Being slow to wrath is a mark of wisdom as self-control (James 3:17; Proverbs 16:32). Here the man is of great understanding, or intelligence. The phrase hasty of spirit means short of breath. It indicates one who is impatient and rash in words and actions. Such a man lacks self-control and particularly over his anger. This is a mark of folly, or lack of wisdom (Proverbs 14:17; 25:28; Ecclesiastes 7:9). The word for exalteth means to raise up and it here refers to a public display. Elsewhere, Solomon noted that fools promote shame (Proverbs 3:35). This proverb is one place that links patience with wisdom, so the implication is to grow in patience we must grow in wisdom.

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Proverbs 14:24

The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.
– Proverbs 14:24

The wording of this proverb is difficult. The first phrase speaks of the rewards of wisdom as riches. This is consistent with the call of wisdom and the promise to those who acquire it (Proverbs 3:16; 4:7-9; 8:18). The point of wisdom is not temporal wealth but spiritual riches (Proverbs 11:4). The contrast emphasizes the reward of fools is folly. Foolishness is sown by fools and folly is harvested. The point could be the irremediable nature of the fool in his folly (Proverbs 17:10; 27:22). He is joined to it and always returns to it (Proverbs 26:11).

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