Leave the presence of a fool or you will not discern words of knowledge
This proverb is very helpful in that it says to get away from a selfish, impulsive, rebellious person because what they are saying is not knowledge. The selfish person has a way of talking that obscures truth. Even if they have a few facts sprinkled in the vat of reference to themselves, the facts are discussed in such a way as to see them in the wrong way. The proverb just says to get away from this person.
Who among us has not heard the arrogant person at a restaurant or somewhere else spinning out this theory of the world or life that is totally bizarre and loony? Usually there is a captive person who has to listen to this blather. This proverb suggests that one exit the scene. Their bizarre logic may suck you into thinking their way.
A foolish person has woven a whole way of thinking that supports their selfish way of life. It works for them and so it seems self-consistent.
or you will not discern words of knowledge
There is a double use of the word yada in this passage. The word discern is the word yada and the word knowledge is the word yada. The word yada means knowledge. It is experiential knowledge; knowledge that has been tested and proven true. Solomon is saying that if you hang around the selfish person, then you will not hear true, helpful information; you will instead hear their theories and conjectures. The conclusions of a selfish and rebellious person should not be meditated upon, so move away from the conspicuous notice of this type of person.
The proverb is trying to help us recognize types of people and what to do when we encounter them. We cannot just naively move through life accepting everyone at face value. Instead, realize that some people have given into sin in such a way that they need to be handled differently. Some have embraced real wisdom and they need to be embraced and listened to.
The book of Proverbs is really trying to prepare people for successful living in the real world – full of saints and sinners.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.