The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1
Fool – Answer this question: Since the Hebrew worldview is about proper action, not proper thinking, what does the word nabal (fool) mean? Those who have a Greek metaphysics will think of the fool as someone who is intellectually diminished. In politically correct speech, we would call these people mentally challenged. But the Bible is not Greek. It is Hebrew, and in the Hebrew culture a fool is not someone who has difficulty thinking. A fool is someone who is disobedient, someone whose behavior is not in alignment with God’s truth. A fool has a low Moral Quotient (MQ), not a low IQ. The word “fool” is a measure of the end product, not the means. From the Hebrew perspective, there are a lot of fools in this world. Some of them are quite intelligent, but they are fools nevertheless.
How do we know that the fool says there is no God? It’s simple. We see how these people behave. They act as though no God watches them. They make decisions that do not follow God’s instructions. They think that they can get away with it. They are the worst kind of fools because their actions make them enemies of God. The consequences of their moral degradation are severe because they chose to be fools. Diminished capacity had nothing to do with it. This is personal, deliberate insanity.
Now, before we go merrily on our way thinking that the Hebrew word nabal only applies to liars, thieves and adulterers, we need to take a look at the kinds of behaviors that characterize a fool. A good place to start is in 1 Samuel 25, with a man named Nabal. What did he do? He refused to offer assistance to David. He insulted David. He was arrogant. He died for this stupidity. He did many of the same things that we would be inclined to do if we were confronted by men sought by the king. Instead of listening first to God’s direction, Nabal consulted himself. He listened to his own instincts for self-preservation and power. The result was disastrous. Sometimes a low MQ isn’t as obvious as cheating and stealing. But it is always connected to a failure to listen to God.
Jesus echoed the same warnings about fools in Matthew 5:22. To call someone a fool was to judge him morally corrupt. You better know what you’re saying before you take on God’s role as judge. There is danger in such arrogance. The best measure of a fool’s MQ is self-examination. When I see moral corruption in someone else, it is almost always because I have some familiarity with the subject. It’s more than likely that I recognize the problem because the other person acts as a mirror, not a lens. Logs and planks must be removed before specks.
So, this insight into the heart of a fool really becomes a self-critiquing tool. Where am I out of alignment with the character of God? Where have I said to myself that this small indiscretion doesn’t matter? Where have I acted as though I can get away with it? Most fools are found in the dark. Much better to live in the light, even if living in the light means letting others see me as I am.
Today, look into your closet. See if there’s a fool hiding there.
Topical Index: Obedience