1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
3 When wickedness comes, contempt comes also,
and with dishonor comes disgrace.
4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked
or to deprive the righteous of justice.
6 A fool’s lips walk into a fight,
and his mouth invites a beating.
7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.
8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
9 Whoever is slack in his work
is a brother to him who destroys.
10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
11 A rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.
12 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
13 If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.
14 A man’s spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
16 A man’s gift makes room for him
and brings him before the great.
17 The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.
18 The lot puts an end to quarrels
and decides between powerful contenders.
19 A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;
he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the Lord.
23 The poor use entreaties,
but the rich answer roughly.
24 A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother – Proverbs 18:1-24 ESV
Fools make lousy friends. Sure, they can be the life of the party and a lot of fun to be around but their lack of wisdom and discernment make them a poor choice for companionship. As verse one points out, fools are inherently selfish and self-centered, focusing most of their energy and thoughts on themselves.
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment. – Proverbs 18:1 ESV
Fools can be manipulative, using others for their own self-aggrandizement. To a fool, people become little more than resources to be used and discarded. They have no real need for friends and even less desire for friendly counsel.
Fools have no interest in understanding;
they only want to air their own opinions. – Proverbs 18:2 NLT
A true friend is willing to say the difficult things that need to be said. They point out our flaws and lovingly correct our failings. But a fool has no desire to have his faults exposed and the opinions of others are of no interest to him. In fact, he prefers the sound of his own voice.
Fools’ words get them into constant quarrels;
they are asking for a beating.
The mouths of fools are their ruin;
they trap themselves with their lips. – Proverbs 18:6-7 NLT
Fools tend to be combative and confrontational because they don’t like to have their point of view challenged or their way of life critiqued. Their subjective opinion always trumps objective truth. And they display a strong penchant for putting their mouth in gear before their brain is engaged.
Spouting off before listening to the facts
is both shameful and foolish. – Proverbs 18:13 NLT
One of the lessons a fool finds difficult to learn is that his words have consequences. A fool finds it easy to speak his mind but fails to understand that his words can be damaging and deadly. Even the closest friends of a fool will find themselves suffering the withering onslaught of their tempestuous character.
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city.
Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. – Proverbs 18:19 NLT
Because the fool lacks wisdom and discernment, his words can be devastatingly destructive. His impulsive knack for speaking his mind puts his wisdom deficit on full display for all to see. And, in the end, his words take their toll on all those around him.
The tongue can bring death or life;
those who love to talk will reap the consequences. – Proverbs 18:21 NLT
Yet, Solomon reminds us that the opposite is equally true.
Wise words satisfy like a good meal;
the right words bring satisfaction. – Proverbs 18:20 NLT
So, why would anyone befriend a fool? What would possess someone to willingly associate with such a self-centered and narcissistic individual? The answer is that fools are typically charismatic and highly influential. They appear successful and popular. The biblical fool is rarely a stumbling, bumbling imbecile who suffers from a low IQ or a learning disability. They are usually intelligent and even highly successful. Their innate talent and persuasive powers can make them wealthy and well-liked. But somewhere along the way, the fool has rejected the idea of God.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. – Psalm 14:1 ESV
Their foolishness stems from their refusal to fear and reverence God. Because they have determined to reject the reality of God, they are doomed to live their life without His wisdom. The fool is not ignorant but he is unenlightened and spiritually devoid of divine guidance. And that is what makes him such a lousy friend.
A fool is essentially godless and operating under his own power and according to his own fallen nature. Without God, he is destined to make unwise choices, pursue unrighteous ends, and do irreparable damage to all his relationships.
There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24 NLT
Fools are fairweather friends. When the going gets tough, the fool gets going. In times of difficulty, a fool will bail on his friends and go into self-protective mode. But, according to Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Godly friends make great companions. When things heat up, they show up. In times of adversity, they prove the depth of their love by displaying their unfailing commitment to the relationship. Godly friends are faithful friends. They tend to mirror the character of God Himself. Wise friends have learned to trust in God. Through their own life experience, they have proven the faithfulness and reliability of God.
The name of the Lord is a strong fortress;
the godly run to him and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10 NLT
In times of difficulty, a fool will place all his trust in his wealth and resources. He will make a god out of his
The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense;
they imagine it to be a high wall of safety. – Proverbs 18:11 NLT
While a fool will abandon his friends and turn to his own resources for salvation, a wise friend will point the way to God. He knows from experience that God can be trusted even when times are tough. A wise friend encourages faithfulness. He models godliness. He promotes a life of obedience and trust in God. And Solomon goes on to point out that one of the greatest relationships a man can develop is that of a godly wife.
The man who finds a wife finds a treasure,
and he receives favor from the Lord. – Proverbs 18:22 NLT
A godly mate is one of the greatest gifts that God can bestow on a man.
Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life. – Proverbs 31:10-12 NLT
And a woman who finds a godly husband has received one of the most precious rewards that God can give. A godly marriage is only possible through the grace and mercy of God. He alone has the ability to perform math that can make two into one.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24 ESV
Two godly and wisdom-endowed individuals joined together by God in a permanent relationship that brings Him glory and honor. Two friends for life, blessed by their Creator with all that they need for living the godly life together. That is the essence of friendship on God’s terms. As Solomon would later record in the book of Ecclesiastes:
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT
Wise friends make great companions. But fools tend to make a fool out of everyone.