Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 16:22
"Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, but the discipline of fools is folly"
This is the Hebrew word sekel, which means understanding. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says, "In many instances śākal is synonymous with bın (see okmâ for discussion of synonyms), but there is a fine distinction. While bın indicates "distinguishing between," śākal relates to an intelligent knowledge of the reason. There is the process of thinking through a complex arrangement of thoughts resulting in a wise dealing and use of good practical common sense."
This word for understanding, therefore, emphasizes the realization of the reasons a particular thing takes place. It is grasping the reason that is understanding.
The phrase a fountain of lifeis a picture of a bubbling spring of continuous clear water. The idea is that if one understands the reason why people do what they do or why a particular thing regularly happens, then all kinds of good things come from this grasp of the reason. One keeps finding new ways of using the reason why things happen.
On the other hand, Solomon says that the impulsive behavior that the fools want to do is the discipline for what they want to do. This is an amazing statement but realize it is true. The very thing that a selfish person is being tempted to do is the punishment and rebuke to not do it; but those who desire to be selfish, impulsive, and rebellious do not see the connection between their troubles and the things they want to do. They want to enjoy their foolishness with none of the consequences. This is just not possible.
The very thing that they are being tempted to do is the thing that is destroying their future. I have watched people want to say things in the heat of the moment and let the stuff fly and then wonder why they can't get a job or any love from the people they have just lambasted. I have watched as people have impulsively and selfishly pursued sexual perversion and then wondered out loud why they have a dysfunctional family or are racked with diseases and/or are gripped with guilt for the people they have abandoned to pursue their sexual fantasies.
Fools are held by the cords of their own sin. They know that they are being destroyed by their temptation and yet they continue to grasp and cling to the thing that is destroying them – whether that thing is a person, a drug, a drink, a food, a relationship, an object, some money, a job, a forbidden pleasure, etc. But note that the consequences of the temptation is immediate. They will get the stomach ache after too much candy.