There are some words in the English language that always seem to evoke a negative response when we hear them. One of these words is “fool.” If we hear it applied to another, we will either think poorly of that person, or, if it is applied to a friend, we will rush to that person’s defense. If we hear it applied to ourselves, we are likely to take offense and respond indignantly. There are very few instances in which we let this term pass without reaction.
This seems to be true no matter what language one uses. In the scriptures there are several words in the Hebrew language, and in the Greek language, that are translated by the English word “fool.” One of the Hebrew words is nabal, which means “senseless.” This is the word that was used by David in Psa. 14:1, where he said, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” This word was also the name of the man who refused to give aid to David and his men in 1 Sam. 25:1-12. When his wife, Abigail, learned of this affront, she took provisions to David and his men in order to keep them from taking vengeance on her husband. In 1 Sam. 25:25 she told David, “Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him, but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.”
In the New Testament there are two words that are translated “fool.” One of these is moros, from which the English word “moron” is derived. Jesus used this word in Mt. 5:22 when he said that the one who said, “You fool” to another would be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. This word means “stupid,” or “dull.” The Lord used another word in Lk. 12:20, when He told the parable about the rich man who tore down his barns to build bigger barns. In the parable, God said to this man, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” The Greek word in this place is aphron, which means “without reason.”
It is important to notice that none of these words refer to one’s mental capabilities. Even though we sometimes hear the word “moron” used to speak of one with diminished mental faculties, this is not inherent in the words in the original languages. What we do see consistently present in all of these words is the idea of a lack of sense with regard to the realities of life. In other words, a fool, as defined by the scriptures, is one who refuses to believe something that is obviously true.
This is certainly the case in David’s use of this word in Psa. 14:1. Only a fool refuses to believe in the existence of God. The natural universal and everything in it shows the unmistakable imprint of God’s hand. This is such obvious evidence that Paul said that there is no excuse for not believing in God (Rom. 1:20). One has to be “senseless” to look at the physical realm and conclude that it just happened by accident.
This lack of sense, or reason, was the problem with the rich man in the parable. He refused to honor God for the blessing of abundance that he had received. He was a fool because he took no thought of his eternal destiny. This is the issue with many today who refuse to believe the plain teaching of scripture with regard to salvation, the church and acceptable worship. God’s commands on these subjects are clearly and simply stated in the scriptures so that all may understand them and comply with them. Jesus said that those who do the will of the Father will enter heaven (Mt. 7:21). Only a fool will ignore this warning. Don’t be a fool. Obey the Lord’s will.