We are in Proverbs this summer, with a different topic
Billy Graham read a psalm and a chapter of proverbs every day.
Psalms helped him stay right with God,
and proverbs with other people.
In May we will study “the fool” in Proverbs.
We all behave foolishly at times.
Yet there is a person called a “fool” in Proverbs
that has several consistent characteristics.
Why would we even want to label someone as a fool?
Shouldn’t we leave that kind of judgment to God?
I believe He gives us these signs
about fools in Proverbs for two reasons:
1. To consider if we are behaving like a fool
2. To learn how to protect ourselves if we have:
a child who is a fool,
a spouse who is a fool,
or a parent or sibling who is a fool.
The Bible, especially Proverbs, provides needed wisdom.
As you will discover this month, the fool may be very religious,
and claim to be a Christian,
but in his heart, he says there is no God.
A true fool is never a true child of God,
and in fact, Jesus warns that calling a brother a fool without
cause puts you in danger of the fire of hell.
(We’ll discuss this theologically complex warning this month.)
Last week, when we closed our Proverbs’ friendship study
we looked at the importance of having “a filter,” of being
discreet and sensitive. Several of you commented that
people with autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s…etc.
may lack a strong filter, and we need to show grace.
In the same way, we must be cautious about labeling someone as
a fool, for we may be wrong.
Let me tell you a story.
(Yes, another pickleball story.)
In my heart, I wondered if a man at pickleball was a fool, but I knew I didn’t know. He seemed easily angered, was loud, and corrected others frequently. So, I just preferred to play in a different court than he was in, and was usually able to manage that.
When a ball flies out of your court and disrupts another court’s volley, whoever gets the displaced ball throws it back to the right court. But if it is this particular man who gets the ball, he often makes a scene, demanding to know not just which court needs it, but which player is serving next. Then he makes sure the person he throws the ball to thanks him. Last week I put up my hand to show that it was our court that needed the ball back. This man threw the ball to me and then I threw it to the next server. This made him angry and he yelled across the gym: “DEE, WHY DID YOU TAKE THE BALL WHEN YOU WEREN’T SERVING NEXT?”
What bubbled out of me, admittedly in anger, was: “BECAUSE I CAN’T THINK THAT FAST!”
I thought, O foolish Dee, now you are in for it.
But instead, he cooled down, and said to his teammates, but loud enough for the whole gym to hear“Oh! Okay! My bad.” That was it.
I was flabbergasted and humbled, realizing: he isn’t a fool for proverbs says a fool will not receive rebuke. There’s something else going on. I suspect, from knowing and loving families with someone on the autism spectrum, that that or something like it may be it — and that what he needed was grace, not condemnation. It is a serious thing to label someone wrongly as a fool, which I had come close to doing.
I want to take the month to really study this and then, when you are sure someone fits the biblical description of a fool, you can take the measures necessary to protect yourself, and possibly, your loved ones. You can also measure yourself, to see if you are behaving like a fool.
We’re going to begin our study therefore with one whom, in God’s sovereignty, was named Nabal (which means fool.) In this story, we have a true fool (Nabal), a man behaving foolishly (David), and a woman (Abigail) who knows how to deal in godly wisdom with both a fool and with one who is behaving foolishly. There will be times for all of us when we need the wisdom of Abigail. I love the message you’ll hear, and Stuart Olyott asks, “I’ve always wondered why more parents don’t name their daughters Abigail!)
Peter Paul Rubins 1628
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- How have you seen God move in your life in the last 24 hours? (This is what we call the God Hunt — if you are unfamiliar with this, go to this post: https://deebrestin.com/2019/04/slowing-down-seeing-more/)
Monday: The Story
3. Read 1 Samuel 25 as an overview and:
- Summarize in a few sentences what happened.
- How had David and his men treated Nabal’s shepherds according to what the servant told Abigail in verses 15-16?
- What stood out to you and why?
4. Share a God Hunt from the last 24 hours.
5. Find everything you can about Nabal.
6. How does Nabal illustrate these characteristics of a fool according to Proverbs?
- (Proverbs 12:15 — will not listen)
- (Proverbs 14:15 – hotheaded)
- (Proverbs 11:29 – brings ruin on his family)
- (Proverbs 17:12) – is dangerous)
7. Share a recent God Hunt.
Wednesday: David and Abigail
8. How is David behaving foolishly — and how is this inconsistent with his general character?
9. Describe what Abigail does and how she entreats David.
10. If you are married to a fool, when is it important not to submit to him and how do you discern this?
11.How does David’s response to Abigail give evidence that he is not a true fool?
12. How is God speaking to you through this story? If He is — this is a God hunt!
Thursday-Friday: Character Bad, Flawed, and Beautiful (Stuart Olyott)
13. Share your comments or notes from the above message.
14. What can you learn from Abigail on how to diffuse a bad situation? Look carefully.
15. Is there a way you might have an opportunity to apply this?
16. What is your take-a-way this week and why?
17. What was your favorite God Hunt of the week and why?