Like a thorny bush in the hand of a drunk,
so is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
This is one of my favorite Bible verses of all. You can’t quote it without acknowledging the possibility that you are, in fact, a fool quoting the Bible.
This is ancient wisdom literature critiquing itself. This verse says that context is important. Any idiot can quote wise sayings or spout scripture. Wisdom is not the ability to pull verses out of the air, but the understanding that there are fitting words for fitting times. (You can watch my video about Proverbs and context here).
It also acknowledges the danger that someone confident of their own wisdom poses to themselves and others. This is part of the reason the term “Dunning-Kruger effect” has come into popular parlance. It refers to a situation in which someone doesn’t know that they do not know something. To put it bluntly, they’re too stupid to understand that they are stupid.
Wisdom is about knowing where we are not yet wise, knowledgable, or talented. Fools are supremely confident in their own knowledge. Wise persons know their knowledge and wisdom are unfinished.
Hence the state of the world.
Too often, not only Proverbs but the whole Bible has been used to promote ignorance and to harm others by those who are not wise, knowledgable, or talented. “Like a thorny bush in the hand of a drunk.” Bad theology harms its users and those around. Some folks are too inebriated to understand the damage they do to themselves and others.
(Some know or suspect the damage they cause—and do it anyway.)
Memorize this verse. But deploy it wisely 😉
Each Tuesday and Thursday I do a short reflection on a Bible verse from a devotional and social justice perspective. You can sign up to get a prompt via SMS here:
Text Of The Day