Probably the most well known verse in the Bible about the definition of a foolish person is Psalm 14:1 — The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” The apostle Paul seems to build on that concept when he writes in Romans 1:20, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
But the book of Proverbs was specifically written millennia ago to clearly contrast the dismantling ways of foolishness with the restorative properties of wisdom. According to the NIV Study Bible Notes, “Proverbs was written to give “prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young” (1:4), and to make the wise even wiser (1:5). Acquiring wisdom and knowing how to avoid the pitfalls of folly lead to personal well-being, happy family relationships, fruitful labors and good standing in the community. Although Proverbs is a practical book dealing with the art of living, it bases its practical wisdom solidly on the fear of the Lord (1:7).”
Here, then, are several proverbs warning us not to be fools:
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:22 (CEB)
How long will you clueless people love your naïveté, mockers hold their mocking dear, and fools hate knowledge?
Proverbs 3:35 (AMP)
The wise shall inherit glory (all honor and good) but shame is the highest rank conferred on [self-confident] fools.
Proverbs 9:6 (KJ21)
Forsake the foolish and live, and go in the way of understanding.
Proverbs 9:13-17 (CSB)
Folly is a rowdy woman;
she is gullible and knows nothing.
She sits by the doorway of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city,
calling to those who pass by,
who go straight ahead on their paths:
“Whoever is inexperienced, enter here!”
To the one who lacks sense, she says,
“Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten secretly is tasty!”
Proverbs 10:1 (CEV)
Children with good sense make their parents happy, but foolish children make them sad.
Proverbs 10:8 (ESV)
The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.
Proverbs 10:14 (DARBY)
The wise lay up knowledge; but the mouth of the fool is near destruction.
Proverbs 10:18 (DRA)
Lying lips hide hatred: he that uttereth reproach is foolish.
Proverbs 10:23 (ERV)
Fools enjoy doing wrong, but the wise enjoy wisdom.
Proverbs 12:16 (EHV)
A stubborn fool immediately lets his annoyance be known, but a sensible person overlooks an insult.
Proverbs 13:16 (EXB)
Every wise [prudent] person acts with good sense [knowledgeably], but fools show how foolish they are [display stupidity].
Proverbs 13:20 (GNV)
He that walketh with the wise shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be afflicted.
Proverbs 14:1 (GNT)
Homes are made by the wisdom of women, but are destroyed by foolishness.
Proverbs 14:7-9 (GW)
Stay away from a fool, because you will not receive knowledge from his lips. The wisdom of a sensible person guides his way of life, but the stupidity of fools misleads them. Stubborn fools make fun of guilt, but there is forgiveness among decent people.
Proverbs 14:15 (ICB)
A foolish person will believe anything. But a wise person thinks about what he does.
Proverbs 14:16 (HCSB)
A wise man is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is easily angered and is careless.
Proverbs 14:29 (KJV)
He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
Proverbs 15:2 (LEB)
The tongue of the wise will dispense knowledge, but the mouth of fools will pour out folly.
Proverbs 15:5 (TLB)
Only a fool despises his father’s advice; a wise son considers each suggestion.
Proverbs 15:7 (MSG)
Perceptive words spread knowledge; fools are hollow—there’s nothing to them.
Proverbs 15:14 (MEV)
The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
Proverbs 15:20 (NOG)
A wise son makes his father happy, but a foolish child despises its mother.
Proverbs 15:21 (NABRE)
Folly is joy to the senseless, but the person of understanding goes the straight way.
Proverbs 17:12 (NASB)
Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.
Proverbs 17:24 (NCV)
The person with understanding is always looking for wisdom, but the mind of a fool wanders everywhere.
Proverbs 17:25 (NET)
A foolish child is a grief to his father, and bitterness to the mother who bore him.
Proverbs 17:28 (NIrV)
We think even foolish people are wise if they keep silent. We think they understand what is right if they control their tongues.
Proverbs 18:2 (NKJV)
A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
Proverbs 18:7 (NLV)
The mouth of a fool is what destroys him, and his lips are a trap to his soul.
Proverbs 20:3 (NLT)
Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.
Proverbs 21:20 (NRSV)
Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, but the fool devours it.
Proverbs 23:9 (TPT)
A rebellious fool will despise your wise advice, so don’t even waste your time—save your breath!
Proverbs 26:11 (RSV)
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool that repeats his folly.
Proverbs 28:26 (TLV)
Whoever trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will escape.
Proverbs 29:9 (VOICE)
When the wise go to court against a fool, there will be ranting and raving but no resolution.
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