Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
Proverbs 14:7

I suspect that each of us has had the unpleasant experience of talking with someone who knows it all. You know, the kind — the one who has an opinion about everything and has no problem offering it to anyone with ears. It is not that they talk too much, but that what they say is full of nonsense most of the time. Solomon gives wise counsel regarding these times. If heeded, it will free one from great frustration.

Simply put, he advises the wise to walk away from someone like that. He encourages the wise to refuse to be a party in a conversation with one who knows it all, refuses to listen to rebuke, and does not heed the counsel of those wiser and older than they. A few observations that run parallel to this appeal:

First, there is the simple reality that this world is full of fools. Solomon does not offer any sense of possibility. He utters a fact embedded in the advice. If (not when) you encounter someone who behaves in this manner — one that makes it plain that they will not listen — then the time is right to leave them to their foolishness and walk away. 

Second, there is a simple reality: fools usually don’t know they are fools. Those are the most dangerous kinds of people to talk to. They know more, always. It doesn’t matter what you know or what experience you have in various matters, they always know more. I have witnessed these kinds of people in the pews from time to time. The best course of action is to identify them and leave them to their ignorance. Typically they are unreachable, always needing to “push back” on everything you say. They cannot help themselves. 

Third, there is the simple reality that if you hang in with them in a conversation, you will become like them. A fool will wear you down and frustrate you, leading to sinful words. So, it is best to walk away. 

The applications of this exhortation are legion, but social media is where it should often be exercised. With the ability to speak on any given subject, social media creates a platform for the fool to vent his “knowledge.” I have seen it time and again. It is best to leave the fool to his own devices. Do you want to avoid being a fool? Listen more. Talk less, especially when dealing with the wiser, older, and more experienced among you. 

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