"Then they will call on me, but I will not answer: They will seek me diligently but they will not find me"
This proverb is a very real but frightful conclusion that fools suffer. When they are suffering the results of their foolishness and under the crushing weight of the consequences of their selfishness, then fools will look for wisdom; but it will be hidden from them. They waited too long to begin the search. There is a window of opportunity that will not be open forever.
Some have suggested that this is God talking and that He will not be open to the fool’s pleas for help and rescue, but that is not the case. It is wisdom that hides. The fool has been broken and there is no way to put that life back together fully. It is possible for that person to receive the forgiveness of God and receive the grace of God in their broken situation. But the fool must still live with the consequences of their actions whether that is prison, divorce, the wrong marriage partner, pregnancy, bankruptcy, being fired, being cheated, no job, no skills, no promotion, diseases, etc. What this proverb is saying is that when you spurn wisdom and act selfishly, impulsively, and rebelliously, you have a window in which you can change. If you miss that window, then you will suffer the consequences of your foolishness.
they will call on me, but I will not answer
Wisdom will be hidden from the fools for they now only want wisdom as another impulsive and selfish pursuit. They want it because it will get them out of the jam they are in. It is a level of justice that wisdom refuses to be turned into foolishness in the hands of the fool under pain. They are only interested in wisdom because it will rescue them and not because they really want to live a life of wisdom from here on out.
they will seek diligently but they will not find me
The very actions that would suggest a person has become a convert to wisdom will not work when the consequences of foolishness have already rained down on that person’s life. It is too late. That is the message of this proverb. There is a time when it is too late to choose a life of wisdom. Solomon is saying to choose wisdom before you get there. Make the choices to incline your ear to listen to wisdom early. Choose to fear the Lord and realize that there is someone beyond you who wrote the rule book to the game of life.
Unfortunately our society has a Bacchanalian point of view of the teens and twenties, believing that they can live a responsible life in their thirties. It doesn't work like this. If you live the life of the fool in your teens and twenties, you will have permanently altered the direction of your life.