The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the LORD.
We might think of foolishness, or folly, as something typical of untaught children, or older youth who are still without wisdom informing experiences, or maybe even adults slow on the uptake. But in Proverbs, folly isn’t a minor fault producing minor inconveniences, and it’s not presented as a character defect that can be easily corrected. Proverbs paints folly as a morally reprehensible trait, dishonoring to God, destructive to its possessor and rendering a person unfit for the fellowship of others. Those who embrace folly, who fit the description of fools:
despise and hate knowledge- Proverbs 1:7, 22
slander others- Proverbs 1:7, 22
delight in evil as if it’s a sport to be played- Proverbs 10:18, 23
bring trouble on those with them- Proverbs 13:20
Foolishness isn’t a minor defect- it’s a God rejecting attitude and lifestyle. Folly isn’t an innocent lack of wisdom through inexperience but anger, bitterness, rage against our Maker.
Linking folly with rage isn’t a combination we’d normally make but God does. Rage is a vivid word coming from the Latin rabies, meaning madness. “Rabies” is commonly used now for the affects of a bite from an infected animal, leaving the victim out of his mind, responding to their surroundings inappropriately, self destructively antagonistic to anything or anyone around them. Historically a rabid animal was put down to end its own misery and to remove it as an unpredictable threat to those around it. Rabies leads to death; so does folly. Folly renders a person harmful to themselves and all those around them.
To continue in folly is to remain at odds with and antagonistic toward the God who created us, and who is the fountain of wisdom and life. To choose folly instead of wisdom and wisdom’s Source, is to rage against wisdom, life and ultimately God. The book of Proverbs is a tome meant to show the surpassing value of wisdom, founded on the appropriate, respectful fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7,29; 2:5; 9:10), as well as the awful destructiveness of folly.
Our culture embraces folly like a drunk on a binge. The knowledge of God is astutely avoided and the thought of fearing God and living a life oriented toward pleasing Him is commonly seen as onerous, outdated and foolish. This kind of giving over to folly isn’t just a rejection of God’s invitation to life (think of John 3:16) but a wholesale antagonism to God and His claims on us, His creatures. Our culture’s rejection of the wisdom that leads to life (1 Timothy 3:15) is a decision based in madness, a destructive rage against God, a commitment to a continued war with Heaven, a war that always ends with the death of the opposition.
“He who finds me (wisdom) finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. But he who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me love death”. Proverbs 8:35-36