Proverbs 23:9

ESV Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.
NIV Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.
NASB Do not speak to be heard by a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.
CSB Don't speak to a fool, for he will despise the insight of your words.
NLT Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.
KJV Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

What does Proverbs 23:9 mean?

Not every conversation is worth having, because not every person is willing to converse reasonably. It is foolish to hold a conversation with a fool. Other proverbs note how some people sneer at what they don't understand and respond to other views with anger (Proverbs 9:7; 22:10). Trying to speak rationally with such people is like trying to put out a grease fire with a squirt gun. Not only does it not work, but it makes the situation worse. It makes no difference how true or how valuable an idea is; if the hearer refuses to even consider it, then the attempt itself is wasted. Often the "fool" of the book of Proverbs is depicted as stubborn and thickheaded; his problem is not his intellect, but his intent.

This applies even to important topics. As much as a believer is compassionate and wants to share the gospel with everyone, he must realize that some people foolishly resist the truth. They harden their hearts and minds and mock the gospel. Jesus said, "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not cast your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you" (Matthew 7:6). Other Scriptures underline the idea that godly people should avoid pointless arguments (Titus 3:9–11; 2 Timothy 2:23; Proverbs 29:9).

The fool has a false philosophy and does not want to consider the gospel. His mind is made up, and he has steeled his will against changing it. The content of the message has no value when the listener's intent is against it. Another example of people clinging to wrong beliefs and foolishly setting their minds against the truth comes from John chapter 5. There, a group of religious leaders opposed Jesus. He told them: "You search the Scriptures because you think that in then you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life" (John 5:39–40).
What is the Gospel?
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