Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 17:12
"Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly"
Solomon, in rather graphic terms, tries to help us understand that it is not wise to try and stop a person who is hell-bent on being selfish. How many times have you thought that you could talk someone out of doing something that was clearly the wrong thing to do? What you almost always end up with is anger, accusations, judgments, and pain. When someone is determined to be selfish, it is unwise to try and talk them out of it or try and stop them. They have decided to go to the discipline of fools, and we often must let them experience this lesson before they will be ready to listen to us.
Let me be crystal clear in explaining this. This means that you will be mauled when you try and give sound advice if a person has already experienced the first pleasures of the folly or they have committed themselves to doing what they want, no matter what. In Hosea 13:8, there is a reference to a mother bear being separated from her cubs and the raging damage she will do to the person who gets between her and her cubs. The idea is that we marry our selfishness with a vengeance and will not be dissuaded in the midst of the doing of it. It is better to back up and give the fool space to learn the lessons of moral stupidity than to try and stop them when they are in the midst of the intense pleasure of the foolishness. It will turn around. There will be other times to talk to them when they will listen.
Solomon is trying to tell us that it is foolish on our part to try and confront the man when he is in bed with his adulteress. It is foolish to try and convince drunks to try and stop drinking when they have a bottle of vodka in front of them.
Where does this actually apply:
When someone who falls in love with someone who is not good for them but makes them feel good.
When a business deal is exciting and interesting even though it is shady or immoral.
When someone is enjoying how wonderful they are through expressions of pride, arrogance, self-promotion, superiority, classism, racism, or other forms of "I am superior to you."
When someone has found a way to swindle, con, or steal other people's goods and hasn't been caught yet.
When someone still wants to medicate their deep emotional pain rather than work through it.
When someone is starting an affair.
When someone feels like they need to tell someone off just to get their feelings off their chest.
The idea seems to be that when someone has decided to be a fool and they are enjoying the good side of their decision, wait until that part is over before you try and talk with them. The consequences will come. There is a wise time to have the contrary discussion, and it is not in the midst of their chosen folly.
Solomon is pleading with us that we would be wise about when we confront people or try and help them. It is much like trying to help a drowning man. If you approach too early or in the wrong way, they could drown you. Remember, you can only help people who want help. Some people are so welded to their selfishness that they don't want help. No one is looking for help when their form of foolishness is going good.