HomeBible TopicsBible Topics: Foolishness

Definition: Behavior which is unwise or lacking in good sense or judgement. It can also mean behavior that is silly, shallow, or not to any positive, constructive end.

1. Some of the symptoms and manifestations of foolishness and the foolish:

* Psalm 14:1a [Unbelief in God:] The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.

* Psalm 107:17 [The foolish usually have many besetting sins:] Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

* Proverbs 1:7 [Despising instruction:] The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. [See also 1:22; 18:2.]

* Proverbs 9:13 [Loud and complaining noisily:] A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.

* Proverbs 10:23a [Displaying childish and immature behavior:] It is a sport [fun] for a fool to do mischief.

* Proverbs 12:15 [Self-confident:] The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

* Proverbs 14:9a [No fear of God:] Fools make a mock at sin.

* Proverbs 17:10 [Not receiving correction well:] A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

* Proverbs 18:6a [Exhibiting contentious behavior:] A fool’s lips enter into contention.

* Proverbs 18:13 [Rash, unprayerful judgments:] He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

* Proverbs 20:3 [Interfering in other’s affairs:] It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

* Proverbs 21:20 [Wasteful:] There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.

* Proverbs 27:22 [Stubborn:] Though thou shouldest bray [beat] a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

* Proverbs 29:9 [Argumentative:] If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.

* Ecclesiastes 5:36 [Excessive talkativeness:] A fool’s voice is known by the multitude of his words. [See also Proverbs 29:11.]

2. Foolishness is a reproach to those who fall into it.

* Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

* Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary [perfume maker] to send forth a stinking savor [smell]: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.

* Ecclesiastes 10:3 Yea, also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to everyone that he is a fool.

3. Persistently foolish children can become a disappointment to their parents.

* Proverbs 10:1b A foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

* Proverbs 17:21 He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

* Proverbs 17:25 A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

* Proverbs 19:13a A foolish son is the calamity of his father.

4. Foolishness is no laughing matter.

* Proverbs 3:35 The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.

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

* Proverbs 24:9a The thought of foolishness is sin.

* Ecclesiastes 7:25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness.

* Matthew 12:36,37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

5. Foolishness leads to mischief and ungodliness.

* Proverbs 15:14b The mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.

* Ecclesiastes 10:12a,13 The lips of a fool will swallow up himself. 13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end if his talk is mischievous madness.

* 2 Timothy 2:16 But shun [avoid] profane and vain babblings [Godless chatter]: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

6. Foolishness leaves us off guard, inviting accidents and trouble. Foolishness is dangerous.

* Proverbs 10:8b A prating [chattering] fool shall fall.

* Proverbs 10:14b The mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

* Proverbs 15:4 Perverseness [in the tongue] is a breach in the spirit.

* Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. [See also Proverbs 10:14b.]

* Proverbs 22:3 A prudent [discerning, careful] man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

* Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

* Proverbs 26:6 [Relying on a fool can cause problems.] He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage. [See also 13:17; 25:19.]

* Proverbs 26:18,19 As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, 19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport [just kidding]?

* Matthew 4:5,6 [Foolish dares are one of the Devil’s devices.] Then the Devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

* Mark 7:21-23 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts … 22 foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

* 1 Peter 5:8-9a Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith. …

7. Foolishness warrants correction and discipline.

* Proverbs 18:6b His [a fool’s] mouth calleth for strokes [invites a beating].

* Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

* Proverbs 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back. [See also 10:13.]

* Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

8. Some Biblical examples of foolishness:

* Matthew 7:26,27 [Jesus likened those who were disobedient to His Words as fools:] And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

* Matthew 24:37-39 [In the days before Jesus’ second coming, there will be those who foolishly won’t heed God’s warnings:] But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

* Matthew 25:1-13 [The foolish virgins were so shortsighted they didn’t take extra oil with them in their vessels:] Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. … 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. …

* Luke 12:19-21 [The rich fool who kept amassing more material things for himself, didn’t realize how transitory this earthly life is:] And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

9. Take a stand against foolishness and pray for a sober, mature spirit.

* Psalms 69:5,13a,14a O God, Thou knowest by foolishness; and my sins are not hid from Thee. 13a But as for me, my prayer is unto Thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: 14a Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink.

* Psalm 119:113 I hate vain [worthless, unimportant] thoughts: but Thy law do I love.

* Proverbs 9:6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

* Proverbs 14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.

* Proverbs 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

* 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

* Ephesians 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

* 1 Peter 1:13a Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober.

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