“As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).
Do you ever wonder why some people make the same mistakes over and over again? More importantly as I look at myself, why do I find myself making the same mistakes over and over again?
The book of Proverbs has much to say regarding the subject of “repeating folly”. The foolish person appears to take pride in being foolish: “Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, but a man of understanding walks uprightly” (Proverbs 15:21). The fool has convinced himself that he is right and everyone else is wrong: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15; cf. 14:12; 16:25). “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Rather than humbling himself before God and trying to learn, the fool considers lightly the consequences of his sin and deceives not only his own heart, but he works at trying to deceive others as well: “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit. Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor” (Proverbs 14:8-9).
As a result, the foolish person often finds themselves suffering hardship from their choices: “Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). The fool finds himself constantly having to endure punishment: “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool's back” (Proverbs 26:3). Moreover, the Scriptures say, “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools” (Proverbs 19:29). Punishment is afflicted upon the fool in an attempt to “beat” wisdom into him: “Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary; rebuke one who has understanding, and he will discern knowledge” (Proverbs 19:25). Furthermore, Solomon adds, “When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise; but when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge” (Proverbs 21:11).
However, often instead learning from his mistakes, the fool just continues to repeat them: “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him” (Proverbs 27:22). The foolish person often continues to defend himself and isolates himself from all those who would try to help him: “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). Solomon adds, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment” (Proverbs 18:1). Even though the foolish person is suffering the consequences of their own actions, they often turn against God and blame Him for their own self-caused misery: “The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord” (Proverbs 19:3). Solomon summarizes the foolish person: “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1).
As I read all these verses, I can say I have known a lot of people that fit Solomon’s description of a “fool”. However, rather than pointing a finger at them and patting myself on the back, I need to consider that I do not want to act like a fool. I need to be wise and be willing to accept correction: “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding” (Proverbs 10:13). I need to consider the path I am taking and the decisions I am making: “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 27:12). Today, I will strive to gain wisdom and not repeat my folly!
“Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear” (Proverbs 25:12).