Overcoming the Anger of Fools
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To overcome the anger of fools, God provided helpful insights into fools and their anger. As we know and understand the ways of fools, by God’s power and revelation we can overcome the anger of fools. Therefore, we can study God’s word, the Bible, for divine help in overcoming the anger of fools.
Knowing the Anger of Fools
A fool’s anger is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor.
The first step in overcoming the anger of fools means that you must understand the anger of fools. God wrote that a fool does not contain his anger. 1God used the Hebrew term כַּעְס֑וֹ meaning His anger. God used different words for anger in the Old Testament. The term כַּעְס֑ describes the provoked anger of God. For more information, see The Angers of God (free .pdf download). Generally, something provoked the angry response from God. Here, something may have provoked the anger of the fool. In contrast to the fool, God remains righteous when He experiences anger. Therefore, we know that anger does not make a person foolish, but not controlling the anger makes a man foolish. Fools have outbursts of anger as a product of their flesh (Galatians 5:19). 2The outbursts of anger (θυμοί) mean that anger comes pouring out (see Matthew 2:16; Luke 2:48; Angers of God, p. 66ff.). Therefore, fools disclose their nature by their outbursts of anger. Many fools cannot discuss anything without their anger exploding fairly quickly and splashing upon everyone in the conversation. In contrast, the prudent man conceals dishonor. 3The term “prudent man” (עָרֽוּם) conceals (כֹסֶ֖ה–qal participle, masculine singular) dishonor (קָל֣וֹן). The prudent man acts shrewdly towards the things he knows and experiences. He does not react with outbursts of anger which characterize foolishness. Therefore, we know that a prudent man confronted with dishonor from fools and their outbursts of anger contains and conceals the dishonor and does not lash out in reciprocal anger. Overcoming the anger of fools means that we know their anger, where it lives and why they live angry.
Summary of Knowing the Anger of Fools
♦ Fools do not contain their anger.
♦ Fools splash their anger upon others in their presence.
♦ The anger of fools controls them, rather than God controlling their anger.
♦ Prudent men conceal dishonor, especially when fools dishonor them.
♦ God controls the emotions of prudent men so that they conceal dishonor and they do not lash out in reciprocal anger.
Anger Resides in the Bosom of Fools
Do not be eager in your spirit to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.
The second step in overcoming the anger of fools means you must understand the eagerness of fools to be angry in their hearts. Fools remain eager to be angry. 4The term תְּבַהֵ֥ל (piel imperfect, second masculine singular) describes intense, disturbing and terrifying action (Judges 20:41; 1 Samuel 28:21) and hasty action (2 Chronicles 26:20). Solomon described “angry” fools. The term כַּעְס֑ describes the provoked anger of God. When applied here to humans, it speaks of a provoked anger, with something triggering that anger to burst out of the fool. This anger relates directly to their spirit. 5The term בְּרֽוּחֲךָ֖ describes the locus of the eagerness to be angry. The anger comes from the spirit of the fool. The spirit of the fool acts with haste to pour forth intense anger. They have evil spiritual anger pouring forth from their evil spirit (compare the work of the flesh in Galatians 5). Not only do fools have outbursts of anger stemming from their spirits, they also live eager to be angry. Their anger rests in their bosom. 6The term יָנֽוּחַ describes: (a) resting after exertion (Exodus 17:11; Exodus 23:12); people resting after conquest of land (Exodus 10:14); the Spirit resting upon a person (Numbers 11:25-26). The anger settles in the bosom of fools and lives there. 7The term חֵיק describes place where the heart resides (Job 19:27). The bosom describes a place where a mother nurses her child (Numbers 11:12). The Psalmist David described his prayers as returning to his bosom (Psalm 35:13). David also prayed that reproach would return sevenfold to his neighbors who reproached Adonai (Psalm 79:12). From the other uses of the term bosom, we see that the term bosom means a place of emotion. In the case of fools, anger rests in the hearts of fools. God does not describe a temporary anger in fools, but an anger settled in the hearts of fools, ready to explode intensely from within the bosom of the fool. Therefore, remember that the anger of fools constitutes an abiding presence in their bosoms, with their hearts eager to be intensely angry. Never forget the settled anger in the bosom of fools. That explosive, intense anger does not go away without the grace of God focused upon the anger resting in the hearts of fools. Overcoming the anger of fools means we remember that anger lives in the bosom of fools.
Summary of Anger Resides in the Bosom of Fools
♦ Fools have a tendency to be eager with their anger.
♦ Fools have hot coals of anger in their bosoms.
♦ Fools have angry spirits.
♦ Fools explode with intense anger springing from their bosoms.
Fools Despise Knowledge,
Wisdom and Instruction
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The third step in overcoming the anger of fools means we learn that fools despise knowledge, wisdom and instruction because they do not fear Yahweh first. Yahweh explained the difference between angry fools and wise people. Wise people live by knowledge, fearing Yahweh as the Head of knowledge. 8God described fear of Yahweh (יִרְאַ֣ת יְ֭הוָה) as the head (רֵאשִׁ֣ית) of knowledge (דָּ֑עַת). See also Psalm 86:11. In contrast, fools live in ignorance and emotion, despising wisdom and instruction. Wisdom from God comes from learning the ways of God. He is the beginning of knowledge. Wise people live according to the knowledge they learned from God. That knowledge includes the knowledge of Yahweh’s wisdom, which only Yahweh teaches. First, Yahweh teaches fear of Yahweh. 9Psalm 86:11 Only then does Yahweh teach knowledge of His wisdom. In other words, first we must learn to fear Yahweh, and only after we fear Yahweh will we learn from Yahweh the knowledge of the ways of Yahweh, including wisdom. Remember, the ways of Yahweh are not the ways of man. 10See Isaiah 55:9. By keeping the ways of Yahweh, we avoid acting wickedly against Elohim. 11See 2 Samuel 22:22. See also 2 Samuel 22:33; 1 Kings 3:14; Psalm 81:13.
Fools despise both wisdom and instruction. 12Fools (אֱוִילִ֥ים) despise (בָּֽזוּ–Qal perfect, third masculine singular) wisdom (חָכְמָ֥ה) and instruction (וּ֝מוּסָ֗ר). Therefore, they will not learn the ways of Yahweh or His wisdom. 13Fools despise wisdom, so speaking wisdom to them will only cause them to despise the wisdom of your words (Proverbs 23:9). Overcoming the anger of fools means that we must expect that they will never learn to overcome their anger until they learn the fear of Yahweh first. Because fools despise wisdom and instruction, they live with anger in their bosoms. Until they take the first step of truly fearing Yahweh in their hearts, they will never learn about wisdom and instruction from Yahweh. Overcoming the anger of fools means that we understand that fools despise knowledge, wisdom and instruction, because they do not fear Yahweh first.
Summary of Fools Despise Knowledge, Wisdom and Instruction
♦ Fools must learn first to fear Yahweh.
♦ Fools despise knowledge of Yahweh and His ways.
♦ Fools despise wisdom.
♦ Fools despise instruction.
♦ Fools cannot learn wisdom and instruction, without first fearing Yahweh and receiving His instruction.
Man of burning anger stirs up contention, and long to nose angers causes rest [of] strife.
The fourth step in overcoming the anger of fools means that we understand that burning anger stirs up contention. 14The burning anger (חֵ֭מָה) of man stirs up (יְגָרֶ֣ה–piel imperfect, third masculine singular) contention (מָד֑וֹן). See The Angers of God. In contrast to the burning anger of fools stirring up strife, the person slow to nose anger promotes rest which ends strife. Therefore, responding to the burning anger of fools with more anger only prolongs the strife and contention. By avoiding an angry response to anger, we promote rest and end strife and contention stirred up by the burning anger of fools. The anger of fools stirs up anger in others, but we contain our anger and promote rest so contentions end with us. Overcoming the anger of fools means that we must never respond to the anger of fools with with our own anger which promotes strife.
Summary of Burning Anger Stirs Up Contention
♦ Fools with burning anger stir up contention.
♦ Fools cause contention in groups because of their burning anger.
♦ Never respond to the burning anger of fools with your own nose anger.
♦ End strife and contention by promoting rest which ends strife and contention.
Turning and Stirring
A gentle answer turns away burning anger, but a harsh word stirs up nose anger.
The fifth step in overcoming the anger of fools concerns a gentle answer. 15The term gentle (רַּ֭ךְ) describes a soft tongue (Proverbs 25:15). The gentle answer turns away burning anger. 16The term burning anger (חֵמָ֑ה) describes passionate, explosive anger. See The Angers of God. When God controls your emotions, then God will also control your tongue and the answers it gives. When you allow an angry fool to control your tongue by making you angry with his words and actions, then God no longer controls your emotions and actions. Because this proverb states a general rule, a gentle answer often turns away anger. When anyone utters a harsh word, they stir up anger. 17The terms “harsh” (עֶ֝֗צֶב) describes the painful sorrow of childbirth after God cursed the woman (Genesis 3:16). The term “stirs up” (יַעֲלֶה־–hiphil imperfect, third masculine singular–notice the causative element here) describes the seven cows coming up out of the Nile river (Genesis 41:2). The harsh words cause the nose anger of people to rise up. 18The “nose anger” (אָֽף) describes the powerful anger bursting forth. See The Angers of God. In other words, the proverb shows how the words of one person can provoke a response from the other person so that both people escalate the bad actions of the other. Words reveal the spiritual condition of each person at that moment. Those words cause a series of actions in each person as more and more words are spoken. Happily, a gentle answer turns away nose anger. Overcoming the anger of fools means that you must not react to the anger of fools with your own unrighteous anger. Never let anyone except God control your emotions or words.
Summary of a Gentle Answer Turns away Burning Anger
♦ A gentle answer turns away burning anger.
♦ Fools say harsh words which stir up nose anger.
♦ Never let the anger of fools stir up your nose anger.
♦ Always let only God control your words and emotions.
Do Not Speak
Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the discretion of your utterances.
The sixth step in overcoming the anger of fools means we do not speak wisdom in the hearing of a fool. Wise people use great discretion regarding what they say, when they say it, and to whom they say it. Not only do fools despise knowledge and instruction, they also despise hearing the discretion of the utterances of a wise person. 19The term “despise” (יָ֝ב֗וּז–Qal imperfect, third masculine singular) focuses upon the “discretion” (“שֵׂ֣כֶל”) of “your utterances” (“מִלֶּֽיךָ”).” See the same root verb for “despise” used in Proverbs 1:7. Therefore, the wise person will strive to show discretion when speaking, because you will not always know beforehand that you are speaking with a fool. Likewise, wise people must understand that fools despise what you say, even when you speak wisdom to them. 20Consider the words of the Lord Jesus about casting your pearls before swine, so that they do not turn and rip you (Matthew 7:6). Overcoming the anger of fools means that you understand that fools despise the discretion of your utterances and so you must not speak wisdom in the hearing of a fool.
Summary of Do Not Speak in the Hearing of a Fool
♦ Do not speak in the hearing of a fool.
♦ Use discretion in all that you utter.
♦ Fools will despise the discretion of your utterances.
♦ Fools also despise knowledge, wisdom and instruction and the fear of Yahweh.
Do Not Pasture
Do not pasture with man of nose anger and the man of burning anger do not go, lest you will learn his ways, and take a snare for your soul.
The seventh step in overcoming the anger of fools means you do not pasture with a man of nose anger or a man of burning anger. 21The term “pasture”(תִּ֭תְרַע–hithpael imperfect second singular means in this context to spend time with, as shepherds who pasture their sheep together. The term “learn” (“תֶּאֱלַ֥ף”) means that you learn the angry ways of the angry man. The term “snare” (מוֹקֵ֣שׁ) means that you lay a snare before yourself because of your anger. Finally the snare operates “towards your soul (“לְנַפְשֶֽׁךָ). God warns against spending time with fools, because you may learn their angers. Once those angers become a part of your life, then you have laid a snare for your own soul. Therefore, God warns against spending close time with angry people because you may learn their ways of anger, which ultimately result in snaring your soul.
Summary of Do Not Pasture
♦ Do not pasture with men of nose anger and burning anger.
♦ God warns us that pasturing with angry men means we learn their ways by prolonged contact with them.
♦ Anger acts as a snare for the soul.
♦ We overcome anger by avoiding close relationships with angry people so that we do not learn their angry ways.
God provided very clear guidance on overcoming the anger of fools. God revealed that anger resides in the bosom of fools, ready to spring out when provoked. Therefore, we must be careful what we say to fools. We overcome the anger of fools with a gentle answer that turns away wrath. While fools reject wisdom, knowledge and instruction, we know that the we must fear Yahweh and trust Him to help us overcome the anger of fools.