Proverbs 10:8

The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.


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Wise men love to be taught. They appreciate instruction. They want to be told what to do. They will listen and do what they are directed to do. They are submissive and obedient.

But fools do not like to be governed. They would rather talk. They want you to hear their opinions. They pour out nonsense without letup. They complain and object. They babble.

But consider well! There is more to this proverb than just a description of character – wise men will receive instruction; fools would rather talk themselves. There is a rule of success and failure here. Fools will fail and fall because of their character fault, and wise men will advance over them by their willingness to hear instruction and improve.

Noble men are thankful for someone to teach them wisdom and truth. Luke described the Bereans as noble for their receptive hearing of Paul (Acts 17:11). Israel under Nehemiah was eager and thankful to hear the Word of God taught to them, even though it raised a commandment that had not been kept in 1000 years (Neh 8:1-18). Consider both spirits.

But many fools would rather prattle and chatter about their own ideas, opinions, and experiences. A prating fool is one who talks too much, without value or profit. They use many words, maybe even eloquent or sophisticated words, but to no real or lasting value. Get away from such persons! They are going to fall, and they will take down those near them. They know nothing but that they love the sound of their own voice and words.

Measure your wisdom and your future life right now. Do you love to be taught, or would you rather teach? Do you love to listen, or would you rather talk? Do you think you can do it your way and be successful? Do not deceive yourself in these questions, for your prosperity and success depend on your honest assessment and absorbing the lesson.

Are others improved and made better by your speech, or do you fill the air with noise? Does your correspondence change lives, or is it merely a lot of blustery hot air? Do others ask your opinion, or do you give it without others asking? Are you wise, or a prating fool? Others know. Do you know? Stop talking. Start listening. Success is coming.

A prating fool may be a good typist, so you get long, profitless emails, rather than cauliflower ear from the telephone. Either way it is the prattle of a fool – lots of words saying nothing. The source is the same – a heart in love with itself, rather than a heart humbly craving to learn. May God save you from being, or hearing, a self-loving man.

Parent, correct this foolish trait by teaching children their proper place. A foolish mother will dote on her children’s words and opinions, and then wonder why she has a family of prating fools. The old adage is still wise – children should be seen, not heard. Their opinions are worthless; their words in the presence of others should be few. Human nature being what it is, such children will still talk too much when they are older.

Reader, are you quick to speak? Or are you quick to hear? Do you expect others to believe and obey you? Are you quicker to believe and obey them? Here you have an important test of your character and soul. Are you wise in the sense of this proverb? If you like to talk, you are in trouble. If you value your opinions, you are in trouble.

Of course, every man thinks his own opinions are better than others’. But wisdom knows this delusion of the human mind is from hell, motivated by the devil, and from a deceitful and desperately wicked human heart (Jer 17:9). The most foolish man on earth, the one without hope of recovery, is the one conceited about his own ideas (Pr 26:12; 29:20).

Wisdom despises your own ideas (Pr 30:1-3; I Cor 3:18-20). Wisdom cuts words in half (Pr 17:27-28; Eccl 5:2). Wisdom speaks slowly (Pr 29:20; Jas 1:19). Wisdom wants to be taught by God’s teachers – parents and pastors (Pr 1:8; 4:1-4; Mal 2:7). Wisdom only speaks when it has valuable, right, and certain things to say. Otherwise, silence is golden.

It is impossible to teach a prating fool. Before you finish a sentence or paragraph, they want to give you twenty or thirty paragraphs of their own. While you are speaking, they are antsy, preoccupied with their thoughts, and chafing to be able to speak again. These miserable wretches cannot say they are sorry or wrong, for they presume infallibility. It never registers that others do not want their opinions, for they also presume popularity.

Prating fools are as obvious as a loud siren. Listen for chatter. Look for quick opinions on every subject. You found him! You found her! Some have an answer for everything; some talk over everyone else; some do not believe in silence, ever. They are prating fools, and it is a holy privilege of wise men to identify and avoid them (III John 1:9-10).

A man married to a prating fool runs to the housetop or wilderness to escape the endless noise of questions, suggestions, corrections, reminders, anecdotes, and other belches from his wife (Pr 19:13; 27:15-16). The man who knew the most about women warned men to reject talkative women (Pr 11:16; 30:21-23; 31:26). Christian woman, if you have any wisdom at all, covet a meek and quiet spirit (I Pet 3:3-4). Receive the commandment!

Can you discover more about this prating enemy of sanity? They love the word, “But.” Listen for it. No matter what you say, they counter it with, “But.” They must get their two cents into the conversation. After five minutes of mindless ramblings, you realize they were always bankrupt, without two cents of sense, and you will avoid them in the future.

If there is no reflection on what you have said, but rather an immediate verbal response of their own, without much acknowledgement or submission to what you have said, you have found a prating fool. Make sure you are not one, and do not waste time with one.

Now forget the prating fool. He is going to fall, under the heavy blows of the Most High and the rejection of all good men. Are you wise in heart? Dear reader, this is the question. Are you wise in heart? Do you fit the description in the first half of the proverb?

Wise hearts are also very obvious. They love to receive the commandments of God and those He has put in positions of authority. Do you obey and honor your parents? Do you receive and obey their commandments? Do you love to hear preaching, so you can learn something else you should be doing to please God and men? Are you wise in heart?

As sure as the fool’s ruin is the result of his rejection of instruction, so your humble hearing and obeying of instruction will bring promotion from God and man. Do you grasp God and Solomon’s lesson here? Proverbs is a book of wisdom for your success. Here is the winning formula for prosperity: listen to God’s word and those in authority over you and obey their superior knowledge and counsel. You will soon be rewarded.