The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. (Proverbs 12:6 ESV)
Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, was certainly powerful enough to call down legions of angels to stop his inevitable suffering and death on a cross. The same Jesus, the Word of God, became flesh and was made like us in every way; yet, when he was tempted by Satan, Christ did not succumb to his physical hunger but resisted the Devil. Jesus also became a true friend to sinners during his earthly ministry, yet he did not panic when Lazarus passed away. In these three situations, Jesus displayed righteous reactions. He could have hastily responded to provocation and destroyed those who sought to destroy him, but he knew his mission was to redeem his people from their sins through sacrifice. In fact, when he was reviled, he didn’t revile back (1 Peter 2:23). He didn’t cave in to temptation for immediate pleasure, either.
The son who follows Solomon’s instructions in Proverbs is always fully manifest in Jesus Christ. In our passage, one of the key characteristics of the wise son is that he reacts well in every situation. The foolish son, however, violently overreacts. His vexation is “known at once.” His words are rash (verse 18), and his heart is anxious (verse 25). This tendency to overreact causes him to utter deceit (verse 17), lie (verse 19), and lead others astray (verse 26). Here, the wise and foolish sons are not merely contrasted in the premeditated actions, but on their reactions in the midst of various contexts.
What about you and me? While we can acknowledge growth in our deliberate behaviors, can we acknowledge the same concerning our immediate responses to exigencies? How do we react under pressure? How do we respond to insults? How do we take disappointment? The way we respond at first is a test of our character. If we are to be wise like Christ, we will follow his example in reacting righteously in every situation, by God’s grace.