These two verses give us a simple picture of the results of wisdom and folly. We can take them together because there is a parallel between the first and forth lines, and the middle two lines. The outside lines deal with what each says, and the middle lines deal with what each gains. So let’s look at each.
What wise people say is contrasted with what fools say. What we are on the inside comes out of our mouths. Our true character spills out. The fool “is asking for it.”
The text says that the fool “invites” ruin. Why would someone invite ruin into their lives? I can think of many people who make choices, dumb choices, and then try to talk their way out of the consequences. They justify their actions, often by blaming another person. Someone who drinks too much alcohol is inviting ruin. If you spend more than you earn, you are inviting ruin. Eating too much of the wrong things invites ruin. Neglecting the important relationships in your life invites ruin. With each of these, and many more, the fool will excuse their behavior and they do so with their words.
The wise person gives out wisdom by the very words spoken. Their lives match their words. It is not that the wise person is pretending or being fake, it is that what they have put into their lives spills out. They have taken the time to discipline themselves and fill up on God’s wisdom. What they have put is comes out. Of course it takes effort to fill up on wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom is a long term project. It doesn’t happen overnight. And it is a process that is never finished. The wise continue to learn.
The fool ends up getting disciplined for his actions. The rod is a symbol and sometimes an instrument of discipline. We tend to not use physical punishment in this country. People go to jail rather than getting a public beating. But we tend to punish and not discipline. Discipline is intended and designed to bring about a change of heart. Jail is about making the public feel safer. We put the “bad guys” behind bars. But little is done to change the heart.
In the end the wise person has something to show for the path he has chosen. He has stored up knowledge. I remember a professor at college who exemplified this concept. When you were around him he just overflowed with a joy that was contagious. Without even trying he gave out wisdom. And his life matched his words.
Are you storing up knowledge or inviting ruin?