Silly Billy

The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.  Proverbs 10:21

Some years ago, I was sitting having tea with my good friend and fellow pastor, David Sparrow, as he reminisced about his time as a student at Treverton College. Here’s one of his stories:

With lunch finished the grade twelve class had made their way to the math classroom. The teacher, William Temple, was late for class so they posted a sentry and entertained themselves with some horseplay. But the sentry was lax and didn’t see Mr. Temple returning until the last moment. Only just nipping into the classroom ahead of the teacher he hissed; “Watch out! Here comes Billy!” and by the time Bill walked into the class the students were seated in quiet expectancy. But Bill had heard the hurried warning and was not impressed. He was upset with their familiarity and proceeded to lambast them. He complained that he was not treated like a professional and reminded them that his name was not Billy but Mr. Temple.

Finally the lesson got underway, and, as it progressed, a student, Walter Hesterman, swung his chair back, hooked it under a bookcase, and fell asleep. Bill soon noticed this and called out; “Wake up Hesterman!” Walter came too with a start, and as he did he succeeded in knocking over his desk. Bill was furious and barked; “Hesterman you silly little fool! Get on your feet!” As Walter stood up Bill snarled; “Now tell me Hesterman what are you?” To which the dazed youth responded; “I’m a Silly Billy Sir!”

This is certainly a story that reminds us that we live cheek by jowl with foolishness. Yes, most teachers know that “a prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly” for they are “quick to quarrel” Proverbs 12:23; 20:3. We recognize that “fools despise wisdom and discipline” and they also “hate knowledge” Proverbs 1:7,22. And we are saddened when we note that “fools die for lack of judgment” and “fools mock at making amends for sin” Proverbs 10:21; 14:9. Yet the greatest tragedy is when the fool “trusts in himself” and “says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” Proverbs 28:26; Psalm 53:1. This person must certainly be the prince of fools, a real Silly Billy!

Fools will be wise when sin they despise

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