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Cover Over Your Knowledge When Appropriate
Proverbs 12:23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
23 A prudent man conceals knowledge,
but the heart of fools proclaims folly.
A prudent man conceals knowledge: The Hebrew word that is most commonly used in Proverbs when discussing prudence is (עָרוּם arum), being used in a positive sense. Arum appears in Proverbs 12:16, 23; 13:16; 14:8, 15, 18; 22:3; 27:12, and it always has a good meaning. In Genesis 3:1, we are told that “Now the serpent [Satan using] was more crafty (arum) than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made.” Here it is the same Hebrew word, but instead, it refers to a prudent, clever, sensible person who uses sound judgment in showing his knowledge. Conceals his knowledge is literally “covering knowledge.” His covering (כֶּסֶא kese or כֶּסֶה keseh) knowledge means that he ignores, disregards, or pays no attention to his intelligence. He is slow to show all that he knows because of his humility.
but the heart of fools proclaims folly: Here, the heart of fools is a reference to the thinking, the mindset, or nature of fools. Fools (כְּסִיל kesil) hate knowledge as they lack good judgment. Their character is stupidity and rudeness, that is, one who completely lacks understanding, who is rebellious in his ways. The folly (אִוֶּלֶת ivveleth) of the foolish one is one who has the trait of acting stupidly or rashly because he is devoid of wisdom or understanding, the Hebrew noun focusing on the evil behaviors which occur in this state. Proclaiming (קָרָא qara) is the opposite of the prudent man who does not put his knowledge on display, in that the fool parades his foolishness everywhere he goes.
Covering or concealing one’s knowledge does not mean that we do not ever show or display our knowledge. Instead, it means we are to be prudent, clever, sensible people, using sound judgment to show our knowledge. We do not make a showy display of our knowledge as though we are bragging about it. In addition, maybe we are evangelizing to someone with little Bible knowledge. It might overwhelm the person if we overshare in explaining the Bible.