Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he has no heart to it?
The term "fool" is not used in the modern sense of a man without reason; but rather in the sense of an unreasoning man. The term is applied much as we apply the term "wicked man." The figure in the text is one drawn from commerce. It represents a man who has been given a sum which he is to invest. He spends part of it in dissipation, part in unwise and unprofitable commodities, and some part in shadows and cheats and pretences; and when he has expended that sum he is a bankrupt. Wicked or foolish men have committed to them a price or a capital, and what is the use if they have no heart to use it right? What good does it do them if they do not employ it as they should? The idea that men are sent into this world for a purpose, and that they are equipped for the accomplishment of that purpose, is given in both the Testaments. Men comprehensively have committed to them, in bodily organs, and in their mental equipment, a power singularly complex, but wise and efficient, and as compared with the agencies of nature in its adaptations to the work of life, surpassing the human frame itself. Natural laws are the great agencies of nature that are being used or fructified by the volition of man. Each man stands at the centre of a sphere of possibilities where he, through knowledge, may come to control natural law and work in his limited sphere as God works in the infinite sphere. Then there is the good name and fame which descends to many of us from our parents. There is a presumption that stock and blood will tell, and that a good father will have good children. It is invaluable to a young man beginning life to have the kindly expectation, the generous sympathy and goodwill of those to whom he comes. What a price is put into the hands of the young in our time in the matter of education; if a man has a heart for knowledge, if he has an ambition to acquire it, and if he is quick to discern, the eye, the ear, every sense becomes the minister of education. Alas! that there should be so many who care nothing for it! Closely connected with this is the capital of bodily health. Good health is a wonderful help to morality, to nobility of character, and to calmness and decision of judgment and action. Next is the capacity of industry. I believe fervently in enterprise, but I also believe fervently in the good old-fashioned notions about patient industry. Every person has that in him by which he can win a moderate success in life by simply doing, day by day, the right things, however humble a sphere he may be in. To many have also been given the invaluable qualities of integrity, honour, and fidelity. These are very valuable from a commercial point of view. A man who is honest, and truthful, and full of integrity, when he has finally been proved, has everybody engineering for him. Then look upon life as a very solemn thing. God has given you one life, and has put capital into your hands, and sent you into this world to buy immortality. Do not squander that price. Listen to the voice of wisdom.
(H. Ward Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?