Proverbs 12:23

Prov. 12:23 "A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness."
Proverbs 12:23 Bible-Believing Church Buffalo NY
Another proverb, another contrast.  This time, a prudent man is pitted against a foolish man and more specifically, the ways in which they manage what they know.  A prudent man is a circumspect man, very aware of his surroundings.  A foolish man is the opposite, only concerned with himself.  Because he is circumspect, the prudent man acquires knowledge about God above him, the world around him and people among him.  But because a foolish man is only concerned with himself, he acquires what he thinks is knowledge when in reality, it's utter foolishness.  A fool is unable or at least unwilling to see life through any other perspective but his.  He thinks he sees life clearly when in truth, he's blinded by his own conceit.

In this portrait, Solomon paints the picture of two men both of whom have plenty of information in their hearts.  Because of his virtue, the prudent man possesses information that is accurate and meaningful.  The fool however, because of his lack of virtue, possesses information that is incomplete and useless.  Despite the obvious difference in heart content, Solomon's portrait includes the mouth of the foolish man wide open while sealing the prudent man's lips shut.

Why would a man who has accurate and meaningful information be silent while the man with very incomplete and useless information be sharing that nonsense?

The answer to that question is the revelation of the proverb.  Virtue has a way of putting meaningful knowledge in our heart and even more impressive, keeping it in our heart.  Prudence is the virtue that opens our eyes to our surroundings.  It is the virtue that helps us read the room and see down the road.  Prudence is not fear nor concern; it's understanding of the totality of life.  Prudence is the virtue that takes a step back and shows us the whole picture.  For that reason, she is a CALMING PRESENCE in our HEARTS.  When we want to speak up, she points us to the big picture in order to remind us that it's not necessary to make a big deal out of something so small.  When we want to share sensitive knowledge, she pulls us a step backwards so as to show us the big picture and ultimately, help us realize sharing sensitive knowledge would do more harm than good in the long run.

Unfortunately, it is human nature to want to say what is in our heart or as we put it, to "get it off our chest."  Jesus put it this way in Matthew 12:34, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."  Without virtue, skewed and inaccurate information is deposited into our heart all day long and as fast as it goes in, it comes out.  Without virtue and circumspect, we only see what we see, we only hear what we hear and we only think what we think - we lack perspective.  This results in thinking we know best, which when our conceited thoughts hit our heart, it can't wait to send those thoughts & opinions back out through the mouth.  As soon as fools think, they speak.  As soon as fools have an opinion, they share it.  "The HEART of fools PROCLAIMETH foolishness."

Prudence not only puts genuine knowledge in the heart but she also calms the heart's natural urge to proclaim what it knows.  Prudence is that virtue that brings knowledge to the heart and tucks it in bed, quietly sings a lullaby, putting it sound asleep.  She tempers the heart's appetite to speak.  She calms the heart's instincts to empty itself of all information to anyone who has an ear.  Prudence is the virtue that convinces the heart to become a hotel for knowledge rather than a transportation terminal for knowledge.

Foolishness sees no value in concealing anything in the heart.  Foolishness sees no purpose in saving knowledge for a future time or a better place.  Foolishness trusts everyone and respects no one.  Foolishness is only concerned with being heard and with being admired as the one with all of the information.  As a result, the heart of the foolish is a springboard of information - as soon as a thought or an idea hits the heart, it comes flying out of the mouth.  Prudence however, softens the heart and enables the heart to absorb thoughts, ideas and knowledge so that the mouth doesn't speak so quickly.  Prudence teaches the heart how to conceal knowledge or "keep secrets."  Prudence calms the heart so that it can properly use knowledge in time at the right time with the right people for the right reasons.

Feel that tug on the back of your shirt?  That's prudence trying to get you to take a step back so you see the importance of holding off on sharing some knowledge at this time.  It would be wise to welcome her into your heart as she'll bring a much-needed calming presence.

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