In general, a fool is someone that believes in himself rather than God (191). It is possible for a person to have a relationship with God and still be a fool (3684). Solomon described the fool that knows God, but does not understand his ways, as being unreliable, a bad investment with regards to doing God’s work (Proverbs 26:6-9). And yet, Solomon said, “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope for a fool than of him” (Proverbs 26:12). To be wise in one’s own conceit means that in one’s view or opinion it is possible to master the art of living. In other words, the man wise in his own conceit can figure things out on his own, he doesn’t need God’s input.
The word hope is often used figuratively in the Bible to convey the idea of expectations (8615). The word translated hope in Proverbs 26:12, tiqvah literally means a cord that is used to bind things together (6961) or as an attachment. In this sense, you could say that having hope is being attached to a certain outcome. You want something in particular to happen. The problem with being attached to a certain outcome is that we might be disappointed when things don’t turn out as we expect them to. That’s why it is foolish to get our hearts set on something that is not God’s will.
When I was a young Christian, I had my heart set on having a big family. After I was married, I had three children and then my husband had a vasectomy. For a long time, I thought he had made a mistake and might change his mind about having more children. When he didn’t, I became resentful and felt my husband had cheated me out of my right to have more children if I wanted to. Eventually, I became angry at God because I was stuck with a husband that didn’t want children. Now that I have reached the age where I am no longer able to have children, I realize that it was not God’s will for me to have more than three children. Because I have matured in my faith and understand God’s ways a little better, I am very thankful that I have three children. Compared to having no children, three seems like a big family.