Proverbs 10:23

ESV Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.
NIV A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.
NASB Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, And so is wisdom to a person of understanding.
CSB As shameful conduct is pleasure for a fool, so wisdom is for a person of understanding.
NLT Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible.
KJV It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

What does Proverbs 10:23 mean?

Proverbs repeatedly says that wisdom begins with a reverent humility before God (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). A foolish approach is to sneer at godly wisdom and hate those who teach it (Proverbs 9:7–8). Terms like "scoffer" or "scorner" were used previously when referring to those who are arrogant and snide when confronted with truth (Proverbs 1:22; 3:34). The person who rejects God's wisdom—regardless of their education or intelligence—is labelled as a "fool" (Psalm 14:1; Proverbs 8:5; 10:8).

One of the clearest signs of ungodliness and foolishness is treating sin or abuse of others as if it's funny. A fool laughs when he plays mean tricks on others. He thinks of sin as entertainment. He takes pleasure in transgressing God's commandments. Contemporary TV and movies contain numerous comedic episodes that demonstrate this fact. The ranks of stand-up comics include many men and women who tell dirty jokes that bring rounds of laughter from their audiences—not because the humor is especially good, but because hearing filthy terms makes people chuckle. However, someday laughing at sin will come to an abrupt halt. God has promised to punish the offenders when Jesus returns "to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way" (Jude 1:15).

A wise person understands the seriousness of sin and takes pleasure in wisdom (Proverbs 10:23). He delights in doing what is right in the sight of God. Like Jesus, he delights to do God's will (Hebrews 10:7). Knowing what is right, and doing what is godly, is not merely an act of duty for a believer. It's meant to be fulfilling and joyful, as well.
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