Sunday, 26 April 2020
4.Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
5Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
These two verses seem to be a glaring contradiction. If you examine these two verses, they are complementary and not contradictory to each other. The purpose of Proverbs is to teach then the sons of Solomon and now to all of us who read so that we can be wise in the Lord. The beginning of wisdom is to fear the LORD. How to read Proverbs and how to apply it calls for wisdom. Proverbs provide guidelines or a recommended way of action in living. Proverbs are general observations but no guarantees. Proverbs don’t make you wise themselves. But how you use and apply Proverbs wisely and appropriately makes you wise.
7 Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless,
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
9 Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
In Proverbs 26.7 and 9, Proverbs are good but in the mouth of fools are useless. In answering or not answering a fool calls for discernment and wisdom. “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” Proverbs has much to say about fools. Fools despise wisdom (Pro.1.7,22, 10.21,23.9); they are right in their own eyes (Pro. 12.15); they are deceitful (Pro. 14.8) and scornful (Pro. 10.23, 14.9).
Proverbs gives the wise instruction as to how to deal with fools. Instructing a fool is pointless because his speech is full of foolishness (Pro.15.2, 14) and he does not want wisdom and understanding (Pro. 18.2). It is futile to try to answer a fool. Do not stoop to the fool’s level by answering his silly questions or arguing with him as if he were a sensible man.
The next verse Pro. 26.5 says, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” Here, it says, “Answer a fool … lest he be wise in his own eyes”. There is a time and place for us to answer a fool and not be silent. There are situations where the wise need to appropriately respond to a fool’s foolishness with words of rebuke and instruction. To let a fool speaks his nonsense without reproof encourages him to remain wise in his own eyes. In this way, it exposes the foolishness of his folly.
Therefore, there is no contradiction in verses 4 and 5. Both principles are right. There are two English idioms that we are very familiar with. These two idioms are true for different people during this lockdown. Especially, when the person you love very much is away during this lockdown, most likely it is appropriate to say, “Absence makes the heart grows fonder”. On the other hand, if a couple has just a platonic relationship, well the separation is “Out of sight out of mind”. In Ecclesiastes 3.7b, it says, “a time to be quiet and a time to speak”. Jesus used both approaches. When the leading priests and the elders, accused Jesus, “Jesus remained silent.” (Matt. 27.14). The religious authority demanded to know by what authority Jesus was doing all the miraculous things. “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” replied Jesus. (Matt. 21.23). Jesus being Christ, He used both these principles to silence his adversaries.
There are a few things we can learn from these two verses of Proverbs.
- We need to ask God for wisdom and discernment in a given situation to know when to be silent and when to speak up.
- When we do speak, may our aim be always to build up or to bring someone closer to Jesus, even when correcting or reprimanding a person. May our speech always be gracious and seasoned with salt, that what we say, will be like “a golden apple served on a silver platter.”
- Keeping silent is not as simple and easy when you are under attack. It takes God’s wisdom and will power to be silent. Even in silence, you are speaking.
27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17.27-28
4. The real wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord, and that wisdom gives us the ability to know how to apply the Proverbs appropriately in our daily lives.
Prayer for today
Father, it is very comforting to know that You are highly lifted up, You reign over all the universe that you have created. We are eternally grateful, puny as we are You know our names. Lord, we are encouraged that You take care of the birds of the air and flowers of the fields, and surely You will take care of us, your children too.
Father, we thank You for the homes you have given to us. We are thankful for the roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes to keep us warm and shoes to protect our feet. We thank you for harmony in the home.
Father, in your wisdom you allow the Coronavirus to become a pandemic. Lord, in this pandemic, You have given us extra time to reflect on many things of which we have taken for granted. Forgive us, Lord, be it in our business, or living our lives as if You are not around. We do things just to please ourselves. Our selfishness has caused so much brokenness in our homes, in places where we work, our church and in our community. O Lord, we pray for awakening and quickening of your spirit in each of our lives. Thank YOU that we belong to You, teach us to live lives that is pleasing to you. May You be the centre of our lives.
Lord, we confess that we are foolish but we often think we are wise. In our foolish ways, we have caused so much pain to one another in our homes. With the new extension of the MCO, grant us your wisdom as we relate to each other. Give us grace when we talk to each other, grant us wisdom and discernment as to when to speak and when not to speak. If we do speak, Lord, give us words that are loving and gracious both the speaker and the listens be encouraged and build up.
Father, thank for answering our prayers for baby Adriel. Thank you for sustaining him day by day, strengthen his heart and his lungs, give him the ability to breathe normally without the help of the oxygen mask. Grant him, complete healing Lord. We praise you for the miracle you have done and continue to do. We want to give You all the praise and glory.
Thank you for the Lord’s Day. Help us to worship Jesus, our resurrected Lord and Saviour, in each of our homes. Bless the worship team, the technical team and the Speaker, Dr. George Tee. Use him, Lord, to minister to each of our hearts. May we have a satisfying worship by having a fresh encounter with You.
We ask and give thanks in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Pastor Isaac Yim
在箴言26.7和9中，箴言是美好的，但在愚昧人的嘴里却是无用的。在回答或不回答愚昧人时，我们需要敏锐和智慧。 “不要照愚昧人的愚妄话回答他、恐怕你与他一样。”箴言中有许多关于愚昧人的教导。愚妄人藐视智慧和训诲（箴言.1.7,22，10.21,23.9）; 愚妄人所行的、在自己眼中看为正直（箴言12.15）；愚昧人的愚妄、乃是诡诈（箴言14.8）和愚妄人犯罪、以为戏耍．（箴言10.23，14.9）。
下一节箴言 26.5说：“要照愚昧人的愚妄话回答他、免得他自以为有智慧。”在这里，说：“要照愚昧人的愚妄话回答他、免得他自以为有智慧”。有时候我们需要回答愚昧人，而不只是一味的沉默。在某些情况下，明智的人需要用斥责和指示的言语适当地回应愚昧人的愚蠢。放任愚昧人去胡言乱语，而不去指责他们的话，就是纵容他们自以为有智慧。这样，就暴露了他自己的愚蠢。因此，第4节和第5节没有相互矛盾。这两个原则都是正确的。有两个我们非常熟悉的英语短句。在这封城期间，这两个短句对某些人来说是如此的真实。尤其是，在封城期间，你非常心爱的人不在身边时，很可能应该说：“久别情更深”。另一方面，如果一对夫妇的关系并不是那么好时，那么这种分离就是“眼不见为净”。在传道书3.7b中，说：“静默有时、言语有时”。当大祭司和长老指责耶稣时，耶稣使用了两种方法。“耶稣仍不回答、连一句话也不说。” （马太福音27.14）。宗教领袖们要知道耶稣是仗着什么权柄行神迹时，耶稣回答说、我也要问你们一句话、你们若告诉我、我就告诉你们我仗着甚么权柄作这些事。” （马太福音21.23）。耶稣是基督，他用这两个原则使他的对手沉默。