(Proverbs 27:3 KJV) A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.
What is “Wrath" (provocation NASB) (3708a)? The word means to vex and to make angry. We all know people who excel at pushing our buttons. They seem to get great delight in seeing our tilt button light up. You can see them coming with that gleam in their eye. They can get to you without breaking out a sweat because we are such easy targets. Want some examples? Let me share a few words: Abortion, guns, global warming, unemployment, health care. Shall I go on? In cases like this the problem is more our thin skin than their barbs. We can deal with this by not taking ourselves so seriously. In this case we tend to be the “fool” (191).
“Provocation” (3708a) which comes from a “fool” (191) is harder to deal with because we recognize its source. It is other people. Often they are people we must live with or work with. They are fools not because they disagree with us but because they disagree with God. Look at the many references in Proverbs contrasting the fool and the wise. These people are very hard to deal with.
We recognize it when it comes from someone else. Do we recognize it when it comes from us? That was a rhetorical question. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. The real point of the verse, I think, is to keep us from being provoking fools ourselves. We don’t need lessons in knowing people are a pain. We need lessons in not giving pain. We need to work at not provoking other people. I have what I consider an active sense of humor. Some people disagree with my analysis. Part of the command of love is to stifle my sense of humor when I am around those people. I should avoid certain topics that I enjoy and focus on what concerns them. I don’t want to be the stone in their life because when the time comes to make a serious contribution, they may not be willing to listen.
So? If you recognize it, apologize and work on change. If you don’t recognize it, hope for the best and saturate yourself in wisdom which is the only real antidote. The Holy Spirit can make you more sensitive if you really want Him to.