How a Wise Man Spots a Fool

Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday morning and evening, April 1, 2001, at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia. 


By Michael D. O’Neal                  Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church                  Albany, Georgia

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 14:7; 13:16-25

Text: Proverbs 13:20

Proverbs 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Introduction: Today is April Fool’s Day. The history of the holiday is somewhat questionable and seems to be traced back to a change in the calendar, when the first of the year was moved from April 1 to January 1. Traditionally, it is a day when it is considered acceptable to deceive people, as long as no harm is done.

I believe that we should use every opportunity we can to evaluate things in the light of God’s word. The Bible does have something to say about the subject. The word, “fool,” is found in 62 verses of scripture; “fool’s” (possessive) in seven verses; “fools” in 42 verses; “foolish” in 52 verses; and “foolishness” in 20 verses.

In our text, the Bible warns about becoming a companion of fools. How does a person identify a fool? The Bible gives us plenty of characteristics of a fool. I want us to learn them so that we can 1. avoid the companionship of fools and 2. avoid the characteristics of fools.


Ecclesiastes 5:3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

A. The fool has a surplus of words

  • Ecclesiastes 10:14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?
  • Who talks the most in your family? That is probably the most foolish person in the family.
  • When you and your friends are gathered together, who does the most of the talking? That is probably the most foolish person in the group.

B. The fool has slanderous words

  • Proverbs 10:18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.
  • To slander someone is to say an accusation against someone without verifying that it is true.

C. The fool has scoffing words

  • Psalms 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
  • An atheist doesn’t truly BELIEVE there is no God; he just SAYS there is no God.

D. The fool has swift words

  • Proverbs 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
  • Proverbs 29:20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
  • A fool talks without considering a matter first.
  • Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
  • 5. One of the most foolish types of programs on television is the average news commentary with two or more people “debating” the issues. They have nearly every characteristic of a fool’s speech that the Bible gives!


Ecclesiastes 10:3 Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.

A. A fool has stumbling steps

  • Ecclesiastes 2:14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

B. A fool has sinful steps

  • Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

In the story of the Prodigal son, the fool was the young man who decided to leave home and waste his inheritance. When he came to himself, he decided to return to the Father’s house. The most foolish thing a man does is to reject the gospel. The most foolish thing a Christian does is to reject his Father’s fellowship and go the way of the world.


Proverbs 14:16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

A. A fool has a stout (haughty, proud) spirit

  • Proverbs 28:26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
  • Proverbs 14:3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.
  • A fool promotes himself; a wise man humbles himself and lifts up Jesus!

B. A fool has a stubborn spirit

  • Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
  • A fool is stubborn; therefore, he is not teachable.
  • Proverbs 15:5 A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.
  • Proverbs 23:9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.
  • A fool is stubborn in rejecting the truths of the Bible about salvation, about service, about sin and separation, about service.

C. A fool has a swift spirit

  • Proverbs 13:16 Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
  • A wise man is swift to hear, but slow to speak, slow to get angry, and slow to make a decision that requires contemplation:
  • As I quoted about a fool’s speech: Proverbs 29:20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
  • Proverbs 19:2 Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.

D. A fool has a striving spirit

  • Proverbs 20:3 It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
  • A fool gets into arguments all the time.
  • That is because …

E. A fool has a seething (soon-angry) spirit

  • Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
  • Proverbs 12:16 A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.


Proverbs 10:23 It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

Sport is what makes a person happy. It is pleasure.

A. He enjoys mischief

  • We think of mischief as a harmless joke or prank, but in the Bible it is more serious than that.
  • Mischief in the Bible is anything that is harmful to another person.
  • This is one of the seven things that are an abomination to God, according to Prov. 6:18.

B. He enjoys meddling in the affairs of others

  • Proverbs 26:17-19 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears. 18 As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, 19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?
  • He is willing to lie about others in order to stir up a fight.
  • He is a gossip. He is always talking about other people to try to make people angry at them.

I am afraid that many of us have been unaware of what marks a fool. I am afraid that many of us are companions of fools. I am afraid that many of us are foolish in our own ways. Let us not be foolish, but wise. Let’s be kind and witness to all people, but let’s not have fools, but wise men, as our companions.

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