Proverbs 12:23 

23A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness. 

Paul writes in Romans 8:29 that God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Proverbs assist us in that process, directing us in the way of wisdom and teaching us what it is to imitate our Lord’s character. Today we are instructed to be prudent not foolish.

Webster defines “prudent” as “cautious; circumspect; practically wise; careful of the consequences of enterprises, measures or actions; cautious not to act when the [outcome] is of doubtful utility, or probably impracticable.” The man of prudence thinks before he speaks or acts. Solomon tells us later that, “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit” (14:8). In other words, whereas the prudent man considers carefully what the consequences of his actions will be, the fool charges ahead and relies on deceitfulness to make his foolish decisions succeed. And even as the prudent man considers the consequences of his actions, so he weighs dangers appropriately, “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself” (Pr 22:3a). Hence, Solomon tells us today that “a prudent man conceals knowledge.” He doesn’t reveal all that he knows. He chooses carefully to whom to entrust the knowledge that God has given him, knowing that knowledge is a precious treasure.

Whereas the prudent man doesn’t reveal all that he knows, the fool reveals all that he doesn’t know, “the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.”  The fool speaks glibly and frequently gets himself in trouble. Like Nabal, he curses a David and has to be rescued by the prudence of his wife. Like Esau, he sells his birthright for a pot of stew, believing he’ll be able to deceive his brother Jacob in the end. Like Ananias and Sapphira, he lies to the Holy Spirit and imagines that his lies will never be found out. But “the complacency of fools shall destroy them” (1:32) and “shame shall be the legacy of fools” (3:35). A “prating fool will fall” (10:10) and “die for lack of wisdom” (10:21). “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool’s back” (26:3).

So what of you? Are you a prudent man or are you a fool? Do you think before you act? Do you weigh your words before you speak? That gossip that you spoke to a friend. That insult that you offered your sibling. That curse that you flung at your boss. That slur that you uttered against your co-worker. Do you think before you speak? Indeed, do you weigh carefully if the knowledge you are thinking of sharing needs to be shared? That anxiety that you revealed to your wife, does she need to be burdened with it? That rumor that you heard about your friend, does he need to know it? A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.

Reminded that we are to be prudent men and women and children who are circumspect and practically wise, let us acknowledge that we are often foolish, that we often speak when we should be silent, act when we should wait, reveal when we should conceal. And as we confess our sin to the Lord and seek His forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us kneel as we are able.