The problem with a fool is . . . that he is a fool. I know that sounds like double talk, but the problem is that until the heart of the fool is changed by a work of God, nothing you do will move him from his foolishness. This is not an issue of education or of environment. It is a heart issue - nothing more and nothing less. Today's proverb tells us that no matter what you do to the fool physically - he will not have his foolishness depart from him. You can even put him into a giant mortar with a pestle - and yet even crushing him in this environment along with some grain will not cause his foolishness to depart from him. Just a note: not sure why the grain is put in there - guess it would make wise-guy flour for making some kind of spiritual bread later?
Too many see foolishness as a "learned" behavior. They see it as something that can be fixed by merely by having someone be better educated. If that were true - then the most educated among us would be the wisest. The problem is that many who become very educated get to the point where they reject God in the midst of their supposed knowledge. What they prove in that moment is that they are the exact opposite of wise - for the fool is the one who says in his heart that there is no God. Often very educated men are smart in a classroom and yet very stupid morally. Such examples remind us that God says that we are to guard our hearts with all dilgence. Your mind is important, but not as important as your heart.
No matter your education level, the truth is that you are fallen. You are sinful - and will remain sinful until God's grace changes your heart. As a sinful man or woman, you will make choices that will amaze you. I do not speak of wise choices - but ones that leave you thinking, "Why in the world did I do that?!" The reason you have such moments is that apart from the Spirit of God teaching you the word of God - and then the Spirit of God enabling and empowering you to walk out the Word of God - you will eventually act like a fool. I don't know about those who will read this - but I for my part - even with the work of the Holy Spirit - still have foolish moments in life.
What does this proverb mean for us - who desire to live as wise men and women? It means that we need to give ourselves to a view of change among the foolish that is centered in the gospel and the grace of God. If you cannot get the foolishness out of a man by grinding him in a mortar and pestle with grain - then all thought of human resources being enough to deal with fools and foolishness should be abandoned. This is a God-sized problem - that can only have a God-sized solution. The good news for us though is that God in His wonderful mercy and grace has provided a solution, not based on either our moral or financial abilities. His solution is based out of His own infinite resources of love. He will change us because He has chosen to love us - and will do that because of what He has done in Christ Jesus on the cross. As a result we will no longer have to report to the mortar and pestle room for regular crushings so that we can become wise men and women. This is a good for us, because when I read this proverb I see such a proposition as a very painful one.