A Hot Head

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 21 & 22

* Poetry: Proverbs 12

New Testament: Acts 6

Proverbs chapter 12 has some very interesting proverbs that can walk us deeper into understanding the wisdom and knowledge that begins with the fear of Yahweh (cf. 1:7; 9:10). One of those proverbs is 12:16, which says, “The anger of a fool is known at once, but a prudent person conceals dishonor.”

Picking up on the conjunction “but” that connects the two lines together, this suggests that the parallelism in this proverb is likely antithetic, meaning the two lines are expressing opposing ideas. In the first line, the main idea is that the “anger of a fool” is readily apparent (i.e., “known at once”). The question we always need to ask ourselves when reading wisdom literature, especially Proverbs, is, “How is this proverb true?” In other words, “What circumstance could this proverb be accurately describing?”

Have you ever known someone who had a short temper? And what was the characteristic behavior of this individual that earned them this reputation? Probably they got angry easily, right? The first line is identifying that a fool is someone who has no control over their temper and quickly erupts at the smallest provocation. They are a “hot head” just waiting to blow. Given the wrong remark or facial expression from others, their attitude can turn sour in an instant and their anger flares up like a barrel fire.

On the contrary to this foolish behavior, the “prudent person,” who exercises self-control and discipline and has a “cool head” about them, “conceals dishonor.” Thus, unlike the fool that vents their anger immediately, unable to rule their emotions but makes an open show of their contempt, the “prudent person” covers over, overlooks, or does not give attention to the dishonorable actions of others. They do not respond in a like manner with unrestrained, emotionally charged reactions.

Thus, the point of the proverb is that a wise person recognizes the best way to handle criticisms or insults and does not react impulsively or irrationally by stooping to meet the fool at their level.

Have you ever just wanted to let someone have a “piece of your mind”? I sure have, and I bet you have too. But the self-restraint required to not vent one’s frustration or anger is part of living with wisdom. Did you know that learning how to rule over your emotions was exercising godly wisdom? It may not “feel” as good in the moment as it would if you yelled at the other person, but wisdom is not about what “feels” good—it is about what is good and right to do that glorifies Yahweh and aligns with his intention for how life is best lived. Therefore, the wise person must deny the temptation to give in to destructive emotions, like uncontrolled anger, that would inflict harm on others. Wisdom teaches how to build strong, healthy relationships and ways of interacting that promote peace and godliness. And that entails being able to keep one’s emotions in check.

-Jerry Wierwille

Reflection Questions:

  1. Give some examples of how temper can interfere with living a life that glorifies Yahweh. Any come to mind when you were the one with the hot head? How could it have played out differently with more self-control?
  2. How can you work on more self-control and discipline? Ask Yahweh, too.
  3. What does Yahweh value?

How to Be Stupid

Proverbs 12

Proverbs 12 1 NASB

As I read though this chapter, one of the things I noticed was a handful of verses talking about taking criticism and counsel, and what type of counsel we give others.  This starts in verse 1.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid.

When we mess up, how do we accept it being questioned or pointed out?  Do we want to grow and not make the same mistake again, or do we hate to be told we messed up?  This verse doesn’t pull any punches.  If you hate reproof, you are stupid.

Verses 5 and 6 continue this:

The thoughts of the righteous are just,
But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.
The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
But the mouth of the upright will deliver them.

Where are we getting our counsel from?  Are we listening to the righteous, or to the counsel of the wicked?  If we are listening to the wrong people, we have a serious problem.  Their words are lying in wait for blood.  They are working to drag us down with them.  We need to make sure we are surrounding ourselves with people filled with Godly wisdom, and listening to their counsel.

Verse 15 says:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

Maybe we aren’t listening to the wicked, but we also aren’t listening to the wise.  Instead we think we know it all and don’t need to get help from anyone else.  Maybe we are ashamed to admit we don’t know how to deal with a problem we have and because of that we try to deal with everything on our own.  No matter what the reason, we are a fool if we do not seek counsel.

We need to get counsel from wise and righteous people.  We also need to give wise counsel, and in some cases this may mean admitting we don’t know the answer.

There is a ton of other things we can learn from this chapter so take time to look it over.  The chapter ends with a familiar sentiment:

In the way of righteousness is life,
And in its pathway there is no death.  (Proverbs 12:28)


Andrew Hamilton

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