The Fool, the Simple, and the Wise


A quick search for ‘the fool’ in my Bible tool quickly turns up 15 verses. There are no verses where God has anything good to say about a fool.

Psalms 14.1, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. And exactly the same again in Psalms 53.1, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

So first, we see that a fool believes there is no God. He makes himself his own god, and that will always lead to his downfall. With himself as god, he is corrupt, he commits abominations, and does no good.

Romans 1.21, 22 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

There seems to be some difference between a fool and the simple. The fool sets himself up as god; the simple is just stupid, following hither or thither, wherever he is led by another. To be simple is to lack wisdom, to lack understanding: Proverbs 7.7 (I) beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding.

The simple fall into trouble; the fool makes trouble: Proverbs 1.32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. Proverbs 14.15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.

But the Bible offers hope to the simple: Psalms 119.130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. Psalms 19.7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

Wisdom calls to both the simple and the fool: Proverbs 8.5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

A personal note: As a retired teacher of the mentally disabled, I will just say that anyone can be stupid. Stupid is not a matter of brain capacity, it is a matter of will and of temperament. Many of my severe/profound mentally impaired students had their wits about them and were productive contributors to our community. Other of my students were stupid, there was no getting around it.

Contrary to the famous quote by the character William Hundert in ‘The Emperor’s Club’ (“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.”), God’s wisdom can change anyone.

So, we must be careful and consistent in proclaiming God’s wisdom. We do not know the hearts of those whom God has created, and it is not ours to judge as to whether anyone is wise, simple, or foolish. A Jesus noted, Matthew 5.22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, (empty, foolish. o empty one, i.e. thou worthless) shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, (dull or stupid, i.e. heedless, blockhead, absurd) shall be in danger of hell fire. And as the apostle Paul noted, Romans 1.15 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.

We serve a great and mighty God, and He can change anyone’s heart: Hebrews 12.11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Pray to God, and ask Him to search your heart Psalms 139.23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. Pray God to reveal and root out any errant foolish thoughts or simple ways; pray God for His wisdom: James 1.5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

The antidote to foolishness and simplicity: WISDOM!

Wisdom is a wonderful thing – you NEED wisdom!

Proverbs 4.7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Proverbs 2.10-12 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things.

Ecclesiastes 7.12,19 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it…. Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.

For further reading, I recommend Proverbs, Chapters 8 & 9

Other notes:

Proverbs 12.15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Proverbs 10:21 The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.

Proverbs 1.32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them.

Proverbs 12.1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.

Fool: stupid fellow, dullard, fool, morally bad, despising wisdom and discipline

  • Strong’s Hebrew: 3684. כְּסִיל (kesil), 70 Occurrences translated to English fool or stupid
  • Strong’s Hebrew: 5036. נָבָל (nabal), 18 Occurrences translated to English a fool, or foolish
  • Strong’s Greek: 878. ἄφρων (aphrón), 11 Occurrences translated English fool or foolish
  • Strong’s Greek: 3474. μωρός (móros), 12 Occurrences translated English fool or foolish
  • Strong’s Greek: 877. ἀφροσύνη (aphrosuné) 4 Occurrences translated English as foolishness

Simple: perhaps open-minded, open to wisdom or folly, believing every word, lacking, needing, tendency to bad sense, easily entice or misled

  • Strong’s Hebrew: 6612. פֶּ֫תִי (pthiy), 19 Occurrences translated to English simple or naïve