Proverbs 17:12

Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.


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Fools are dangerous! Wise men will avoid them. It is a universal fact that a mother bear robbed of her cubs is very dangerous. But such a ferocious animal is less trouble than a fool pursuing his perverse ideas. Solomon condemned fools and their brute lusts by his knowledge of bears. The wisdom is to spot dangerous fools and avoid them.

Some fools are merely lazy or stupid, so they are not very dangerous (Pr 17:16; 21:20; Eccl 10:15). While irritating and troublesome, they are not a great threat to a righteous man. Their folly will do them more harm than anyone else. And the folly of children and Christians can be corrected (Pr 22:15; 29:15; Luke 24:25-26; I Cor 15:36; Gal 3:1).

But other fools are malicious and scornful; they are very dangerous (Pr 21:24; 26:12; 27:3; 29:20,22). The wickedness of incorrigible fools cannot be corrected, no matter what you do (Pr 17:10; 27:22; 29:9). The Bible calls these profane fools, “sons of Belial,” or evil personified (I Sam 25:3,17; II Sam 23:6-7; I Kgs 21:10,13). They are brute beasts to be destroyed (II Pet 2:10-12). Wise men stay far from these wicked fools (Pr 9:6-8; 14:7)

A fool is in his folly when out of control and acting by base and profane passions. Rage is the anger of a fool (Pr 14:29; 29:22; Eccl 7:9). Consider Cain killing Abel (Gen 4:1-12). Simeon and Levi destroying a city against their father’s word (Gen 49:5-7). Doeg killing God’s priests (I Sam 22:9-19). Nebuchadnezzar heating a furnace sevenfold for good men (Dan 3:14-22). And Herod slaughtering Bethlehem’s little children (Mat 2:16).

What bear was ever as merciless and violent as these examples? Angry bears are brutishly stupid and vicious, but such profane fools are worse. Reader, it is your duty to learn to identify them and take pains to avoid them. And it is your duty to rule your lusts and passions to avoid being such a bear yourself. Consider how close the sweet psalmist of Israel came to destroying a household for one scorner’s ignorant remarks (I Sam 25).

There are three American brown bears – the grizzly, the Alaskan, and the Kodiak. A male Kodiak bear may weigh 1500 pounds or more. It is 10 feet tall when standing on its back legs. If you try to run, it can reach 35 mph, which you cannot! If you put up a fence, remember it can bite through ½” steel bolts! Will you climb a tree? It can also climb trees, if needed. Will you hide underground? It can dig much faster than you can shovel!

But Solomon did not use just any bear in this proverb. Most bears retreat at the presence of a man, if they are not disturbed or provoked. He compared a fool in his folly to a female bear robbed of her cubs. This creature, though smaller than the males, is much more aggressive and dangerous. She will ferociously and fearlessly attack any threat to her cubs. The proverb is designed to frighten. Such bears and such fools are dangerous!

David’s friend Hushai kept Absalom from pursuing his father by comparing David and his chafed mind to a bear robbed of her whelps (II Sam 17:8). And it was two such bears that tore 42 children that mocked Elisha (II Kgs 2:23-24). A wicked ruler over poor people is like a ranging bear, a hungry bear leaving its territory to find food (Pr 28:15). God compared His judgment of Israel to a female bear robbed of her cubs (Hos 13:8).

You know what bears look like and where they live. You easily avoid them. But can you spot dangerous fools as well? They show no fear of God: they are not holy; they are profane in speech and action; they are arrogant and selfish; they despise authority and scorn correction; they justify anything they wish; they are earthly minded; they are unmerciful; they are without natural affection; and they have a violent temper.

How can so-called Christians engage in angry yelling and temper tantrums in the privacy of their automobile or home? While called to follow the Lamb in speech and actions, they show themselves the children of the lion from hell (I Pet 2:21-25; John 8:44). And if they say, “That is just the way I am,” you know you have found a son of Belial. Get away!

Separating may be painful at times, but it is God’s order to avoid fools, especially the angry, scornful, and vicious kind (Pr 9:6-8; 14:7; 22:24-25; 23:9; 29:9; Matt 7:6; I Cor 15:33; II Thess 3:2). They do not deserve delight or honor (Pr 19:10; 26:1,8; II Kgs 3:14; Ps 15:4). Great men cut them off, even if they are family or friends (Ps 101:4-8).

These wicked men that cause so much grief to parents, wives, children, neighbors, and saints have their day coming, when the Lord Jesus Christ will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire to eternally correct all the inequities of these brute beasts (II Thess 1:7-9; Jude 1:14-15)! Are you ready and waiting for His appearance?