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Proverbs 15:14


The mind of one who has understanding seeks knowledge,
   but the mouths of fools feed on folly.

My translation: the heart of the understanding will seek knowledge; but the mouth of fools will graze upon folly.

Following Proverbs 15:13 on the emotional disposition of the heart (Joyful or sorrowful), I am wondering how we read this all too standard proverb.  We’ve heard these words time and time again in Proverbs: Wise = knowledge, fools = folly.  What allows the standard proverb to be unique is its placement among other proverbs.  Sometimes they arise as a transition of subject matter (which may be the case here).  Other times, they are used to apply the unique thoughts of a section of proverbs to a standard lesson.  

We have finished a section on God’s judgment, and had one proverb on the disposition of the heart.  Now we have on on seeking knowledge and grazing on folly.  I am reading the connection two ways.

1) The heart, whether disposed to joy or grief, will seek reason and understanding for its enduring emotions.  Thus, the heart may seek knowledge, or it may be the recipient of grazing on folly.  

2) The concept of seeking/grazing holds my attention as the key, especially the grazing.  For grazing is not just the act of eating, but the constant eating in order to sustain oneself, and possibly fatten oneself.  Further, grazing suggests that we are led to a place that has food to eat, and we passively participate in the eating, despite what is in front of us.  This is the problem with fools, they do not seek what is good for them to ingest, to take into their bodies and influence their hearts.  They only absorb what is available around them without discernment.  

Whereas the act of seeking means that one has a goal in mind.  They are focused and discerning, discarding all that is not what they want.  Yes, they may spend time licking, chewing, and investigating things to make a decision on it’s quality, but they do not ingest it.

Thus, the disposition of the heart may cause it to seek/graze.  But also the seeking and grazing will influence the disposition of the heart.  And all of this stands before God.  It is why Israel is commanded to tie the commands to their foreheads and hands, and to recite them in all the places of their lives.  They are to seek true knowledge and allow it to influence the disposition of their heart.

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