Wisdom is Too High for a Fool
Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.
1. Solomon has made a number of important statements concerning knowledge and wisdom in this section.
a. Vs. 3 – Through wisdom and understanding, a house is built and established. (wisdom builds up a house and makes it firm)
b. Vs.4 – By knowledge a house is filled with riches. (wisdom prospers)
c. Vs.5 – A wise man is strong. (wisdom is strength)
d. Vs.6 – Wisdom is needed before engaging in major projects and making important decisions, like waging a war.
e. Vs.6 – There is safety in obtaining lots of wise counsel.
2. Solomon makes another statement about wisdom in verse 7: it is too high for a fool.
Wisdom is too high for a fool
1. The English word wisdom appears 54 times in the book of Proverbs.
a. However, this particular form of the word for wisdom appears only 4 times in Proverbs (and once in the Psalms).
b. It is defined as follows:
• Wisdom: i.e., the content of a specialized understanding. Wisdom; prudence; insight; the capacity to use knowledge properly.
• There is no real distinction in meaning – just different forms of the same root.
• In other words, it is a very COMMON word in this book of wisdom.
• Proverbs is a whole book about wisdom… looking at wisdom from every angle… how it behaves in various situations… how it is contrasted from folly… and its practical results.
2. This particular proverb makes one simple statement about wisdom: it is too high for a fool.
a. “Too high” defined:
• Exalted; lifted up; high; tall; lofty.
• It can be used in a bad sense: Haughty; arrogant; —but that is not the case here.
• Here it speaks of that which is lofty and exalted… high… and even out of reach.
3. Wisdom is too high for a fool in that it is out of his reach.
a. Wisdom is like the jar of cookies that are on a shelf that is too high for the little boy to reach.
b. As long as the fool REMAINS a fool, wisdom will be out of his reach.
c. Prov. 17:24 – The eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.
• In other words, he is looking in all the wrong directions—on purpose.
• The fool doesn’t really WANT to find it… for he knows deep down inside that true wisdom condemns him and his lifestyle.
• When Lady Wisdom cries out to him, he plugs his ears and looks in the other direction.
• Wisdom will remain out of his reach.
d. Prov. 14:6 – “A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not.”
• As long as he scorns wisdom, he will never find it—even if he seems to be seeking it.
4. Obtaining wisdom for the fool begins with REPENTANCE – a change of mind and heart.
a. First, the fool needs to change his mind with respect to who he is. He needs to see himself as a scorner and a fool.
• Prov. 1:22 – Fools hate instruction. That needs to change before the fool can reach and obtain wisdom.
» Fools are characterized by pride. “I don’t need any advice. I know it all.”
» The fool needs to humble himself and recognize his NEED for help… his need for counsel and advice.
» He needs to change his mind from “I don’t need any advice” to “I really need advice!”
» Thus, a fool first needs to see that he IS in fact, a fool.
» He needs to recognize his folly and to recognize the foolish things that he has said and done.
» Wisdom will always be out of his reach until he learns to humble himself.
• Prov. 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.
» Until the fool sees that his foolish ways are NOT right, wisdom will remain out of reach.
» Until he changes his mind about himself and his ways, the fool will remain in his folly, and wisdom will remain out of his reach… beyond him.
» He needs to change his mind as to who he is.
b. Secondly, he needs to change his mind concerning who GOD is.
• Prov. 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
» After acknowledging his sinful and foolish condition, the fool needs to acknowledge who God is—a God of all wisdom.
» A reverential FEAR of God is the beginning or initial step along the way to obtaining wisdom.
» True wisdom and knowledge are found in the Lord.
• Prov. 1:1-2 – The inspired words of this book are God’s words of wisdom designed to PROVIDE wisdom for the fool and the inexperienced.
» The fool needs to see that God’s WORD is a treasure chest of wisdom.
» This is quite a change of mind—a change of attitude.
» Before the fool assumed that he needed no wisdom, no counsel, and no advice.
» He needs to humble himself, see his need for wisdom and see GOD as the Source of all true wisdom.
» He needs to change his mind about who God is.
c. Thirdly, the fool needs to learn to LISTEN to the words of wisdom.
• Prov. 1:5 – A wise man will HEAR.
» This is a big step for the young fool.
» It is humbling for a “know it all,” to stop and listen to the words of advice from God’s Word or from a wise man.
» Prov. 18:2 – A fool has no delight in wisdom.
» Prov. 17:16 – Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?
• He will never listen to advice until he sees the value of it.
» The fool needs to first learn that wisdom is valuable and good… and that folly is, well… foolish!
» That requires a radical change of mind. Usually that comes with growing up… but not always.
» Some people never seem to grow up. Wisdom will always be too high for them.
• Prov. 10:23 – It is as sport to a fool to do mischief.
» As long as he is having so-called “fun” in his sinful folly, he will never hunger after wisdom.
» He will never seek after wisdom.
» Usually, his “fun” has to come to a halt before the fool turns around.
» Often times the Lord will allow his “fun” to become old… just not fun anymore.
» Sometimes his “fun” will have painful consequences that are anything but fun. This will often result in a change of mind and heart for the fool.
» But unfortunately, not for all fools. Even suffering the ugly consequences of their folly will not turn around the most stubborn of fools.
» And until there is that change of mind, they are in no place to LISTEN to the words of wisdom.
d. Fourthly, the fool needs to humble himself and TAKE the advice.
• He needs to actually DO what he is counseled to do by a wise counselor.
• Usually, when the book of Proverbs speaks about “hearing” words of wisdom, it implies more than just the vibrating of the eardrums. It usually speaks of DOING and OBEYING.
He openeth not his mouth in the gate.
1. Here Solomon states that the fool does not open his mouth in the gate.
a. The gate was the place in the ancient city where the legal and judicial matters were considered.
b. It was the place where the elders and the leaders of the city gathered.
c. It was the place where many important business deals were conducted by the wealthy men of the city.
d. It was the place where the wise men gathered for intelligent conversation to discuss the issues of the day.
e. The gate was the place where intelligent, wise, important, successful, and wealthy men gathered.
f. And the FOOL would not even open his mouth there! He is not part of that crowd and never will be.
2. In other words, the fool would never become a leader in the community.
a. The fool would never become a judge or a lawyer.
b. The fool would never become a city leader or tribal elder.
c. The fool would never become a successful business man.
d. The fool will have nothing to add to intelligent conversation.
• When the fool comes to the gate of the city, where the wise men of the city gather for intelligent discussion, he will have nothing intelligent to say.
• He won’t be able to open his mouth and join in on that conversation.
• The discussion will be “too high” for him.
e. As long as the fool clings to his folly, he will never be wise, wealthy, or successful.
f. He will never be a respected member of the community.
3. Others see in this statement a picture of the fool standing at the gate of the city to be JUDGED for some crime he has committed because of his folly.
a. When he stands before the Judge, he will have nothing to say in his defense.
b. His folly condemns him. His mouth is shut.
4. Either way, this serves as a serious warning to the youth: DO NOT remain a fool.
a. If you are still clinging to your folly, then NOW is the time to repent: Change your mind, your attitude, and then demonstrate the fruits of repentance by changing your behavior.
b. Then you will be well along on your way to wisdom.
c. Until then, wisdom will remain “too high” for you.
d. The cookie jar will always be out of your reach.
5. Prov. 1:1-5 – However, the purpose of this book is so that young, inexperienced people can BECOME wise.
a. Nobody should ever read this proverb and say, “Poor me. Wisdom is out of reach for me. It’s too high for me. I’m a fool and I’ll never be anything else.”
b. God doesn’t want wisdom to remain out of your reach.
c. It is very much IN your reach.
d. But it requires a heart that is willing to listen and follow.
e. If the heart is right, ANYONE can obtain wisdom.
f. The cookie jar is low enough for a little child with a right heart attitude of humility.
g. But it is high enough to be just out of reach for the arrogant fool.