Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 14:16
"A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless"
This is the Hebrew word yare, which means to fear in its basic root. It has been translated to be afraid, to be awestruck, cautious, dismayed, fearful, reverent, stand in awe, terrifying. The idea seems to be that there is a clear apprehension that brings a level of carefulness and tentativeness to any action. In this case, when the wise man encounters an action that is evil or would move him beyond the Ten Commandment, they become extremely tentative, concerned, and cautious. They then move away from that action to move more clearly back into the boundaries of righteousness.
On the other side, the fool is not fearful of getting near the boundaries of God but thinks that they can handle anything, and that the reward of evil is worth the risk of offending God and the consequences that He brings on that type of behavior.
This is the Hebrew word surwhich means to turn aside, avoid, leave, go away, etc. The idea is that one is moving away from the object in question. The wise man when they find that they are moving toward evil in what they are doing – they quickly want to move away from that pursuit.
This is the Hebrew word abarwhich means to pass over to, pass on, to go beyond, to bring over, etc. This is not the typical word for arrogant in the Hebrew. It is clearly the opposite idea to what Solomon said about the wise man. The fool (selfish, impulsive, and rebellious) person is not afraid when they spot the boundary of God in their actions but instead just bring themselves over it as though it were nothing. They want what they want, and they will not let something like the moral boundary of God stop them.
Let me make this specific. The wise person is trying to do a business deal, but they discover that they will have to lie to get the deal approved at a particular point. They back off the deal. The fool doesn't see a problem and just lies to complete the deal because the lie is not a part of the product – it is just a part of the process to accomplish the deal.
There are all kinds of these situations where teens, businessmen, housewives, ministers, teachers, doctors, and even seniors want to do a particular thing and hidden in accomplishing it is a lie, a rebellion, adultery, swearing, putting something before God, stealing, greed, violence against another. These actions are necessary parts of a particular course of action. You will decide whether you are wise or a fool in how you treat those possibilities. If you become extremely cautious and examine the alternatives, seeing if there is any way to accomplish the plan without the moral breech moving away from these actions if there is not, then you are a wise person. If you figure it is just one little white lie or only a little transgression and proceed, you are a fool. Your selfishness is getting the better of you.
Solomon also wants you to apply this to the people you know to be able to understand whether they are wise or foolish. He wants you to be able to see the "tells" of these two different lifestyles.
This is the Hebrew word batachwhich means to trust. Interestingly, it is translated bold, careless, confident, trusting, complacent. The idea is clearly that the fool keeps pushing forward when the moral breeches become evident; they trust themselves or something to get them out of the consequences or around the barriers to gain what they want.
The question that Solomon wants to ask is: Are you facing any of these morally questionable actions to get what you want? Be wise and move away from that course of action. Also, do you know people who consistently will pursue what they want even when it means "bending" the rules to get it? These people are to be marked as fools, knowing that they will begin to suffer the fool’s consequences. Do not put a lot of confidence in a fool’s counsel or actions, or it will sting you because you know that a fool will "bend" the rules even with you to get what they want.