Counseling the Fool (Part 2)

From the series:

by Tim Sullivan


The premise of this blog series is that there are various types and degrees of foolishness. This post will present the biblical terms related to folly, exhibiting the successive degrees of foolishness, and then revealing the heart of a fool.


The gullible will believe anything, they are unable to discern or think through their steps (Prov.14:15). They are a type of fool. Gullible fools are open-minded and have difficulty discerning right from wrong. They live their lives in such a way as to bring about harsh consequences; they lack sense (Prov. 1:32; 7:7).


The blockheaded fool lacks discretion because he cannot keep a secret. He spreads folly wherever he goes (Prov.12:23; 13:16). The blockhead does not learn from experience, so they continue to make the same mistakes over and over again (Prov. 26:11). They are emotionally driven and given to anger (Prov. 29:11). Their emotions control them. They plant and harvest additional folly and reap what they sow, which often brings about difficult consequences (Prov. 14:24; Gal. 6:7,8).


The airheaded fool is the one who is morally deficient and spiritually lacking. He thinks his way is right and, unlike the wise, he does not listen to advice (Prov. 12:15). The fool is convinced that he does not need help or counsel from anyone and is not teachable (Prov. 15:5). One can pick out an airheaded fool by how they respond to their parents, grandparents, guardians, teachers, coaches, bosses, and other authorities in their life. They think that they know what is best and cannot be persuaded otherwise. 


The deadheaded fool, “says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The nabal is an unbeliever who is spiritually dead. In Job chapter two, Job refers to his wife as an nabal since she believes it to be wise to curse God. The most prominent nabal in Scripture is a man who is actually named Nabal. He is a harsh, rude, and evil man who is an ungodly jerk (1 Sam. 25).[1]


Scoffer, scorner, and mocker are all-synonymous with snark and describe him well. The snark is a fool, but a fool on steroids. They take folly to the next level. Bruce Waltke says, “The most hardened apostates are the mockers.”[3]

Below is a simple tool to help you identify some key features in the types of fools you might counsel. Once you have an idea of where they are spiritually, it would be prudent to think through what your next steps would be in helping them change.

Spiritual Diagnostic Grid

       [1] Smith, James E. 1 & 2 Samuel. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 2000. 294 n. 2 notes: “Other passages present the nabal as an embarrassment to his father (Prov. 17:21), a glutton (Prov. 30:22), a hoarder (Jer. 17:11), and even a practical atheist (Ps. 14:1). Most significantly, a nabal was one who refused to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty (Isa. 32:6).”

       [2] “Scoffers, Scorners, and Snark.” Timothy Keller. Accessed November 14, 2018.

       [3] Waltke, Bruce K. The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. (Eerdmans Pub., 2005). 114.

Read more in Part 3