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The Bible often contrasts the fool with the wise, but did you know that there are several types of fools? In my estimation, there are at least three different types apparent in the Bible which I will refer to as: the best, the worst, and the common fool.
The Worst and the Best
Maybe “best” isn’t the ideal word to describe a fool, except in the sense that it’s the best of the three types. This is a person who is not persistent and completely intentional in their foolishness (Ecc. 5:1). They are unwise because they are not taking God’s counsel. They are trusting in themselves, choosing to be self-sufficient instead of God-dependent.
In contrast, the worst type of fool is a person that is intentional and unashamed in their immorality and godlessness (Isa. 32:6). In fact, they go so far as to say there is no God (Psa. 14:1; 53:1). This is a person that deliberately pursues evil.
Most references to fools in the Bible are of a third type, which is what I typically think of when I consider the fool.
The Common Fool
“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” Ecc. 7:9
The common fool is a shameless person with little self-control. All you have to do is engage with them and before long they will reveal their foolishness (Pro. 12:16; Pro. 29:11; Ecc. 10:12). They think they are enlightened in ways that others don’t understand or relate to. They often gloat in their own abilities, talents, knowledge, or understanding — whether real or imagined.
The common fool despises advice and counsel (Pro. 12:15; 15:5), often reacting to it with unrestrained and irrational anger. They tend to scoff at instruction and mock the counsel they receive (Pro. 24: 9; 18: 2). This anger may come out of a sense of shame that they are being corrected. They especially don’t receive discipline or correction well, often going so far as to despise it (Pro. 1:7; Pro. 1:22).
With or without correction, a fool is quick to get angry, to quarrel, to stir up strife, and cause division (Pro. 11: 29; 14:17; 20:3; 29:9). They are quick to run their mouths and vent an inflammatory attitude with loaded accusations (Pro. 14:16; 18:6). In fact, Ecclesiastes 5:3 says that a fool’s voice is known by his multitude of words (Ecc. 10:14; Pro. 10:18).
I don’t know if you’re noticing a pattern or not, but anger is a basic characteristic of the common fool. In my observation, the more intellectual they are, the more likely they are to refer to their anger as being passionate. This is a way to remain unashamed of their foolishness.
Don’t Pity The Fool
To a large degree, a fool is a fool because they want to be a fool. Clearly, God holds them responsible for their foolishness. The common fool has deep-rooted issues that they choose not to deal with, and it produces a life that punishes the people around them. The biggest issue they have is that they don’t want help.
Unfortunately, they cannot remain humble long enough to receive counsel that could change their lives. If you try to help them you will end up bearing the brunt of their rage, which you will surely stir up. Therefore it is wise not to engage with fools (Psa. 1:1; Pro. 14:7; Pro. 13:20), except to show them love and give them good news (Rom. 1:14-15).