Luke and I listen to the radio program Wretched Radio every morning while we eat our breakfast. Five days a week there is a free Podcast, which we always find enlightening, challenging, encouraging and refreshing to listen to while we munch on our toast. Like many other things, some clips stick more than others. A couple of months ago Todd Friel, the presenter, asked "What kind of fool are you?" He used the different fools of Proverbs as an example. I've recently been trying to read Proverbs every day, and as I kept on coming across references to "fools", I was compelled to look up the five different kinds of fool, because let's face it - Proverbs talks about foolish people as much as it does about wise.
Although English probably has the most words of any language, some of its terms are a bit vague. One example is the word "love". In other languages, there are different kinds of love. But in English it's just love, and we assume that love is different depending on the object of your affections. Similarly, Hebrew had a lot of different words for fool, whereas English just has "fool". So here we go:
Fool Number One
The Simple Fool
This person is, as the title suggests, simple-minded and lacks discernment. They open their mind to everything without the least bit of thought and are therefore at the mercy of everything. The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it Proverbs 22:3 (ESV).
These people haven't quite come to face the fact that actions have consequences, and because of this they are easily persuaded into doing wrong. They are extremely immature to the point where it is dangerous. This attribute, coupled with their curiosity and gullibility, means that these fools are headed for trouble and are at the mercy of others.
For at the window of my house
I have looked out through my lattice,
and I have seen among the simple,
I have perceived among the youths,
a young man lacking sense,
Proverbs 7:6-7 (ESV).
Fool Number Two
The Silly Fool
The silly fool's mouth is often the cause of his troubles. The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin (Proverbs 10:14). When things goes wrong, he becomes angry.
A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool's provocation is heavier than both (Proverbs 27:3).
Being completely convinced that he knows what is best, this fool rejects any kind of instruction. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7). He refuses counsel from friends or advice from family, instead only believing what comes from his own mouth. Unfortunately, many times it is only under higher authority or correction that the fool acknowledges his foolishness. If a wise person goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace (Proverbs 29:9).
Fool Number Three
The Sensual Fool
This fool is a person who seems determined to make wrong choices. Unlike the simple fool, this fool knows what is right and what is wrong, but chooses to do wrong. He deliberately rejects the wisdom of God.
The sensual fool, as the name suggests, focuses on immediate pleasure and revels in things that he should be ashamed of. A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes... (Proverbs 10:23).
This kind of fool is also unreasonable. His mouth continually gets him into trouble. The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating. The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives (Proverbs 18:6-7). It is this kind of fool that Proverbs gives the most warnings about because... a companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20).
Fool Number Four
The Scorning Fool
This fool loathes authority of all kinds, and utterly disdains God, their parents, and civil leaders. This type of fool has not only rejected truth, but has also embaced that which is abominable to God. He is completely deaf to rebuke. A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes (Proverbs 13:1). Those who attempt to lead him off the path of destruction will have to suffer his wrath. Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you (Proverbs 9:7-8).
Fool Number Five
The Steadfast Fool
This is the most dangerous fool of them all. He totally rejects God and His ways. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good (Psalm 14:1). This type of fool is self-confident and close-minded; he is his own god, freely gratifying his lower nature.
How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.