“Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.”--
Proverbs 10:14 (12:23; 13:3).


     We start with one of the more interesting aspects of this verse…  You’ll notice that the word “people” is italicized here, indicating that the actual ‘word’ men is not present in the original language (so to speak).  Where it actually comes from is the word ‘wise” that starts the verse.  This is a form that we see quite a number of times in both the OT and the NT.  It is a portion (or implication) of the ‘wise’ itself.  “Wise” is really an adjective, a descriptive word and is in the plural.  If it was with a noun (for instance, ‘Pastor’) it could be singular and be talking about each individual Pastor and be describing his ‘wisdom’.  As is it is making a general statement about all those who can be described as wise.  Then the verse tells us who may be considered a part of the group defined as ‘wise’.  Once again we note (as in prior studies on Proverbs) that ‘men’ here does not speak of males, but rather of anyone who fills the standard laid out in the verse.  
    That standard is a simple one.  It has to do with recognizing knowledge.  Knowledge, in this passage, is the Hebrew word “da’at”.  It does not speak of things like knowing how to physically do things, mow a lawn., fix a roof, etc.  It is speaking of more intangible things, like philosophy, theology, the basic way that the world and the universe works.  The idea is the hard things that makes life and living in it make sense.  As far as spiritual matters go, it would speak of theology, the way that God does things in the world, etc.  
    “Lay up…” is the Hebrew word ‘yi͙spĕnû (yispaynoo) and refers to the “storing up” of a quantity or supply of a thing for use later.  Interestingly, it is in what is called the “imperfect” tense that speaks of a past action that has abiding effect into the present.  It seems perfectly logical given the content of the verse here that gives us the idea of what it is that Solomon is telling us should be the object of our “storing up"”(or laying up as some versions put it).
    It is the act of a wise person to store up or layup knowledge, the understanding of how the world works and how God interacts with His people.  Conversely, he tells us, it is the act of a “fool”.  As we have seen before, the “fool” speaks of the stupid person, or one perhaps a senseless act (would be rendered “foolishness” in that context).  In the Bible, the single most foolish person is the one who denies the reality of God in the world.  
    This makes wonderful sense mated with the first part of the verse.  The “wise” man is one who seeks the knowledge of God and stores that knowledge up, gaining and gaining s deeper understand of the God of all men.  On the other hand it is the foolish one who does not.  He is, as Solomon says here, near to destruction, we have to conclude, Solomon is speaking both 
·        The destruction of being unable to function is a way that brings God’s blessing and fruitfulness as His child.
·        Likewise, it brings one nearer and nearer to eternal destruction and God judgment that will fall on those are the “foolish ones”.

    I think we can agree that, on the one-hand, that is the very definition of the foolish person.  On the other hand, it pretty much defines one who is wise!  The contrast is between the wisdom of those who store up knowledge, keeping it in reserve, to deal out as may befit time and circumstances, and the folly of those who, out of their emptiness, blurt out continually words fraught with mischief to themselves or others. The word “near” being an adjective, the last clause may be more intelligibly rendered, “The mouth of the fool is (a) near (speedy) destruction,” an ever-present source of danger.

Illustrations.--
·        Jacob and Daniel, and Mary, the mother of our Lord, all did wisely in laying up in their hearts knowledge which it would have been unseemly to proclaim at the time. 
·        Historically, Stephen and Paul had both stored up learning, which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was of great service in their disputations as Christian teachers. 
·        Samson, by rashness of speech, “swallowed up himself” (Judg. 16:17; Eccles. 10:12), and 
·        Nabal’s churlish, ignorant words, which were “as a burning fire” of dissension, proved a quickly destroying agency against himself, having been disrespectful to someone he ought not have messed with!

Application.—Happy he who early in life perceives the value of useful knowledge. No need to urge him to take pains to acquire it. As a miser is intent upon his savings, so will the studious youth be intent upon mental stores. Nor will he put them, as too many do, into an unretentive memory, “a bag” (as it were) “with holes.” No, for the exercise of memory will add strength to it, and he will retain at least a good residuum of what is thus accumulated. And then his wisdom will be not to display but to use this knowledge seasonably, for the instruction and benefit of others, rather than for his own glory; and to use what he has as a means of gaining more. Whatever my position in life, all useful knowledge will be of service, and tend to improve that position. There is a knowledge, moreover, which is acquired not from books but from men, from observation, from experience, and this is the most calculated to make wise; above all, if it be “sanctified by the Word of God, and prayer.” “The priest’s lips should keep knowledge.” The good steward will bring forth “out of the good treasure of his heart,” “things new” as well as “old,”—will be always increasing knowledge and experience. This, which applies primarily to the clergy, reaches to the laity as priests also in their degree (1 Pet. 2:9). By thus storing the mind and governing the lips, I shall be preserved, moreover, from the fate of those empty-headed praters who open their mouths continually, and always to do mischief (though it may be unintentionally), if not to others, to themselves.

 


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