Proverbs 24:9
A foolish scheme is sin, and a mocker is detestable to men.
The Nature of Evil ThoughtsR. Fiddes, D.D.Proverbs 24:9
The ScornerR. Fiddes, D.D.Proverbs 24:9
The Thought of FoolishnessE. Johnson Proverbs 24:9
Some Traits of Folly and SinE. Johnson Proverbs 24:7-10

It will be well to be on our guard against a possible mistake here; for next in importance to our knowledge of what things are wrong and hurtful, is our freedom from imaginary fears and morbid anxieties respecting those things which are perfectly innocent and pure. We look, then, at -


1. The serious but not taken thoughts of childhood or of uneducated manhood. It is not every thought which cannot be characterized as wisdom that must be condemned as "foolishness." The honest attempts of artless simplicity to solve problems or to execute commands may be honourable and even commendable failures; they are the conditions of growth.

2. The lighter thoughts of the cultured and mature, thoughts of merriment and frolicsomeness, moving to honest laughter, are far from being sinful. They are clearly in accordance with the will of the Divine Father of our spirits, who is the Author of our nature, with its faculties and tendencies; they are often found to be a necessary relief under the otherwise intolerable strain of oppressive care and burdensome toil. One of the most serious and one of the most kind-hearted and successful servants of our race (Abraham Lincoln) was only saved from complete mental derangement during the terrible time of the civil war by finding occasional refuge in humour. But what are -

II. THE THOUGHTS WHICH ARE HERE CONDEMNED? The thoughts of foolishness.

1. Our responsibility for our thoughts. Impalpable and fugitive as they are, our thoughts are a very real part of ourselves, and they constitute a serious part of our responsibility to God. That they do so is clear; for:

(1) On them everything in human life and action ultimately depends. Action depends on will, will on feeling, and feeling on thought. It is what we think and how we think that determines what we do and what we are. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Thought is the very foundation of character.

(2) Thought is free. We may be compelled to speak or to act in certain prescribed ways; but we are masters of our own minds, and we can think as we like. How we think depends on our own volition.

(3) We either choose deliberately the subject of our thoughts (by selecting our friends, our books and papers, our topics of conversation), or we are led to think as we do by the mental and moral character which we have been deliberate]y forming; we are responsible for the stream because we are responsible for the spring.

2. The sinful character of foolish thoughts. Foolish thoughts may be

(1) irreverent, and all irreverence is sin; or they may be

(2) selfish, and all selfishness is sin; or

(3) impure, and all impurity is sin; or

(4) unkind and inconsiderate, unloving or vindictive, and all unkindness is sin; or

(5) short-sighted and worldly, and all worldliness is sin (1 John 2:15-17). The conclusion of the whole matter is that if we would be right with God, "harmless and blameless," we must be right in our "inward thought" (see Hebrews 4:12); and that if we would be right there, in those central depths or our nature, we must

(a) place our whole nature under the direct rule of the Holy One himself;

(b) seek daily fop the cleansing influences of his Holy Spirit, the continual renewal of our mind by his inspiration;

(c) "keep our hearts beyond all keeping" (Proverbs 2:23), especially by welcoming, with eagerness and delight, all the wisdom of God that we can gather from his Word. - C.

The thought of foolishness is sin.
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE "THOUGHT OF FOOLISHNESS"? Folly and sin signify the same thing in Scripture. We are not to understand thoughts of pure speculation as simple acts of the understanding; nor even a thought of sudden and transient inclination towards sin, which arises in our minds before we are aware and which we endeavour to stifle. Though such thoughts are sinful in their first rise and tendency, when the imagination has been long heated or their hearts corrupted by any criminal excess or disorder. We are to understand by a thought of foolishness one of complacency. Such a thought as the will not only consents to entertain, but which the mind delights to dwell and dilate itself upon. These evil thoughts proceed from some vicious reigning passion, or perhaps presumptuous sin. To give way to such vain and foolish thoughts is an argument of a mind very much turned and estranged from God. Such impure and loose thoughts are directly contrary to the fruits of the Spirit, and to those precepts of Holy Scripture which require us to be spiritually-minded. Many mistakenly think there is no sin in dwelling on evil thoughts, so long as they abstain from gross external acts of sin.


1. Take care to be always usefully or at least innocently employed.

2. Carefully examine what those things are which have been most apt to excite evil thoughts in us. And refrain from company, books, and circumstances which influence us for evil.

3. Evil thoughts frequently arise from prevailing natural temper.

4. Live under a constant sense of God's presence and inspection over us.

5. All rules and directions will avail but little toward the better government of our thoughts without the illuminating and sanctifying graces of the Spirit of God.

(R. Fiddes, D.D.)

And the scorner is an abomination to men

1. He is one who runs counter to the general reason and maxims whereby the rest of mankind govern themselves. He places his greatest glory in those disorders which the rest of mankind are most ashamed of.

2. He is one who delights to walk in the way of sinners.

3. He would be thought of as believing that there is no God.

4. He delights in ridiculing those persons or things which have a more immediate relation to God.

5. The greatest effort of the scorner is against that order of men whose peculiar office it is to minister in things pertaining to God.

6. He makes it his business to confound the distinction of virtue and vice, to call evil good and good evil.


1. His common swearing.

2. His profaneness.

3. His confounding the distinction of virtue and vice.


1. Men generally entertain a secret esteem and veneration for religion.

2. Take care to keep ourselves at as far a distance as possible from the profane temper of mind of the scorner. Never think of God, or speak of Him, save with reverence. Be careful not to obstruct the influence of religious considerations on our hearts.

(R. Fiddes, D.D.)

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