Proverbs 26:4-5 Dealing With A Fool

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:4-5
These verses in Proverbs might appear to say what is opposite of each other (“do not answer a fool”, “answer a fool”), but they are really saying the same thing—be wise in the way you answer a fool.






Basically a fool is someone who doesn’t know God (Psalm 43:1 53:1). They do not respect God; they mock God (Psalm 74:18, 22 Proverbs 1:7). 
Fools “despise wisdom and discipline” and “hate knowledge”. (Proverbs 1:7, 22).
Fools “…do not know that they do wrong” Ecclesiastes 5:1.
Jeremiah complained that his people were fools because they didn’t know God and worshiped idols (Jeremiah 4:22, 5:4, 21, 10:8).
Fools do not obey Jesus (Matthew 7:2625:1-13 Luke 6:46).
Jesus calls the hypocritical religious leaders fools (Luke 11:46).
Fools are those who do not consider eternity but think only about the things of this world (Luke 12:20).
Fools consider themselves wise but became fools because they did not consider God (Romans 1:22).
Fools do not believe and so perish (1 Corinthians 1:18, 20, 3:18-19).
Fools consider wisdom foolishness:
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
Fools are those who follow “the god of this age” 2 Corinthians 4:4.
When we did not believe in Jesus we were fools (Titus 3:3).
A fool is someone who acts (or condone others who act) any way he pleases and thinks just because he has “faith” he is OK:
“You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless “ James 2:20


In a sense everyone is a fool at birth:
“Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5 People are fools because of their sin.
Because of God’s love for His creation everyone is given a chance to become wise:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Jesus came “into the world” to save the world, but those who do not believe in Him are condemned:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:17-18
People do not believe in Jesus because “their deeds were evil” and they “fear that their deeds will be exposed”:
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19-20 People who do not choose to believe in Jesus remain fools.
Everyone can see that there is a God, but because of sin they become fools (Romans 1:22).
Fools become fools because of “their rebellious ways” Psalm 107:17
Choosing to sin makes a person a fool because (1 he is a fool to sin and (2 sin separates us from God and blinds our eyes to what is right and what is wise:
“The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.” Proverbs 14:6
Extortion and bribes turn men into fools (Job 36:18 Ecclesiastes 7:7).


A fool is resentful and envious (Job 5:2).
Fools are complacent (and wayward), which will destroy them (Proverbs 1:32).
“A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct” and detests turning from it (Proverbs 10:23, 13:19).
A fool “seeks wisdom and finds none…” Proverbs 14:6
“Fools mock at making amends for sin...” Proverbs 14:9
A fool is “hotheaded and reckless” Proverbs 14:16, “quick-tempered” Proverbs 14:17, and easily provoked (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
He doesn’t act “out of knowledge” but “exposes his folly” Proverbs 13:16, he doesn’t “spread knowledge” Proverbs 15:7 and he doesn’t seek knowledge but “feeds on folly” Proverbs 15:14.
Fools are led astray by wine and drinkers of wine (Proverbs 20:1 Hosea 7:5).
People detest fools (Proverbs 24:9).
“… a fool repeats his folly.” Proverbs 26:11
A fool “trusts in himself" Proverbs 28:26 and “is wise in his own eyes” Proverbs 26:12 and exalts himself (Proverbs 30:32).
A fool causes dissension (Proverbs 22:10, 29:8).
A fool doesn’t take warning (Ecclesiastes 4:13).
A fool is someone who does not fulfill the vow he made to the Lord (Ecclesiastes 5:4). Jesus said not to make vows (Matthew 5:33-37). Jephthah suffered greatly because of the foolish vow he made (Judges 11).
“…the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is.” Ecclesiastes 10:3
Because someone is in an important position does not mean he is wise:
“Fools are put in many high positions….” Ecclesiastes 10:6
It is not wise to have a fool for an employee:
“A fool’s work wearies him; he does not know the way to town.” Ecclesiastes 10:15



A fool brings sorrow to his father and mother (Proverbs 10:1, 15:20, 17:21, 17:25, 19:13) and “spurns his father's discipline” Proverbs 15:5 (Proverbs 13:2).


A fool’s constant rebellious complaining, talking about the harm he intents, not listening, spreading slander and lacking judgment bring him to ruin and even death (Proverbs 10:8, 10, 18, 21).
A fool doesn’t listen to advice (Proverbs 12:15), “shows his annoyance at once” Proverbs 12:16,  and “blurts out folly” Proverbs 12:23.
“A fool's talk brings a rod to his back…” Proverbs 14:3, and “every fool is quick to quarrel” Proverbs 20:3.
“Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool— how much worse lying lips to a ruler!” Proverbs 17:7
“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17:28

What a fool says will bring him strife and a beating:
“A fool's lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.” Proverbs 18:6
What a fool says will ensnare him:
“A fool's mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” Proverbs 18:7
A fool wants to give his own opinion and does not listen to others:
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” Proverbs 18:2, and “the mouth of the fool gushes folly” Proverbs 15:2, and a “…fool gives full vent to his anger…” Proverbs 29:11.
A fool is perverse:
 “Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.” Proverbs 19:1
Useless, even harmful “ a proverb in the mouth of a fool.” Proverbs 26:7, Proverbs 26:9.
There are those who are more foolish than fools:
“Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 29:20
“As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.” Ecclesiastes 5:3
“…a fool is consumed by his own lips. At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness--and the fool multiplies words.” Ecclesiastes 10:12-13
“For the fool speaks folly, his mind is busy with evil: He practices ungodliness and spreads error concerning the LORD; the hungry he leaves empty and from the thirsty he withholds water.” Isaiah 32:5-7
Fools argue and quarrel and don’t accomplish anything worthwhile (2 Timothy 2:23 Titus 3:9).


A fool’s money does him no good because he has no desire to use it wisely (Proverbs 17:16).
A fool wants to have more than he can afford (Proverbs 17:24).
A fool “devours all he has” Proverbs 21:20. is lazy (Ecclesiastes 4:5) and  and loves pleasure (Ecclesiastes 5:4).
A fool gains money by unjust means (Jeremiah 17:11).
A fool wants to get rich (1 Timothy 6:9).


Fools do not trust God or have His perspective. For instance, we are told not to fret because of evil men (Psalm 37:8). We are foolish when we do not understand that though the wicked seem so prevalent and powerful “they will be forever destroyed” Psalm 92:6-7.
Jesus calls those who do not understand the Scriptures foolish (Luke 24:25).
Christians are foolish if they do not understand the truths of God’s word or the ways of God (1 Corinthians 15:36 Galatians 3:1, 3 Ephesians 5:4, 17).


God “mocks proud mockers” Proverbs 3:32 and they will suffer the punishment of their ways (Proverbs 1:26-32, 9:12).
God causes shame to come to the fool (Proverbs 3:35).
Fools will be servants of the wise (Proverbs 11:29).
A foolish woman tears down her house (Proverbs 14:1) presumably by her sin.
Fools bring trouble on themselves:
“The…folly of fools yields folly.” Proverbs 14:24
Fools are punished for their actions (Proverbs 16:22). Unless punishment is severe, it will not keep a fool from his foolishness (Proverbs 17:10, 19:29, 26:3) and “…you will not remove his folly from him” Proverbs 27:22.
What a fool says will bring him strife and a beating (Proverbs 18:6) and will be "his undoing" and "a snare to his soul.” Proverbs 18:7.
Fools need to be punished in order for the simple to learn to act correctly (Proverbs 19:25, 21:11).
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!” Ezekiel 13:3
Israel is punished because her sins have reached the point where her sins cause her to consider the (true) prophet a fool (Hosea 9:7).


Job’s wife was foolish when she told him curse God and die because of his intense suffering. He answered her wisely:
“ His wife said to him, ‘Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Job 2:10 Thank goodness, she had her husband to set her straight.
Expect trouble if you confront a fool (Proverbs 9:7-8, 15:12, 17:12).
Don’t give a fool honor and its rewards. They are “not fitting for a fool” Proverbs 19:1026:1 (26:8).
We should avoid taking a fool to court:
“If a wise man goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.” Proverbs 29:9
Don’t ask a fool to deliver a message (Proverbs 26:6) and do not hire a fool (Proverbs 26:10).
Jesus said not to give what is sacred to pigs (Matthew 7:6). Ask God what you should say to a fool:
“Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known.” Proverbs 14:33
“Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the assembly at the gate he has nothing to say.” Proverbs 24:7
“For the fool speaks folly, his mind is busy with evil: He practices ungodliness and spreads error concerning the LORD; the hungry he leaves empty and from the thirsty he withholds water.” Isaiah 32:5-7

We are to love the foolish. Paul will suffer for others and make sure they understand Jesus’ free gift of grace to them because “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” Romans 1:14


Blessed are those who don’t associate with mockers (Psalm 1:1)
We are to avoid fools because they have no knowledge (Proverbs 14:7) and we will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20).
What fools say can appear to be wise, but it is deceptive:
“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” Proverbs 14:8
“Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.” Proverbs 23:9

Fools can make your life miserable:
“Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both.” Proverbs 27:3
 “It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke than to listen to the song of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:5

Doing good will silence the talk of fools:
“For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:15
God warns the foolish to “gain understanding” (Proverbs 8:5).



We are not to call anyone a fool or we will be judged (Matthew 5:22).
Paul calls his bragging (which was necessary to encourage the Corinthians to respect him) foolishness (2 Corinthians 11:1).
We should be fools for Jesus. The Apostle Paul brags “We are fools for Christ…” 1 Corinthians 4:10
Being this kind of fool is the opposite of the “fool” discussed in the rest of this article. It brings great reward.

2 comment(s) so far

Ariane Rosos wrote on Wednesday, October 10 2012

"Proverbs 29:30" should be Proverbs 29 verse 20.

Thanks Ariane! I changed it.

God bless! Jerri

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