A Short Study of Proverbs 18:13
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” (Proverbs 18:13)
John Gill, commenting on this proverb, says this:
“The person ‘that answereth a matter before he heareth it’ is impatient and cannot wait to hear it out, but breaks in upon the speaker before he has finished what he has to say. He is rash and precipitate [i.e. reckless, hasty, impulsive], and he returns an answer at once, without weighing, considering, and thoroughly understanding what is said. Solomon says that such rash conduct ‘is folly and shame unto him.’ His answer must be a foolish one, and it must bring shame and confusion upon him. Men should be swift to hear and slow to speak.”
How shameful and foolish we all prove ourselves to be when we judge and speak before we know anything of the matter at hand. (The applications of this truth are countless.) This is shameful folly indeed. An ignorant uninformed mind cannot form an accurate judgment about anything under the sun, much less speak about things that it knows nothing about—this is a self-evident truth. Yet, who can count the number of people who do this very thing? They have made up their mind; yet, they know nothing. They speak up and speak out, “understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.”
Enough about other people. What about us? We all sometimes make up our mind about this, that, and the other, being totally ignorant of the facts. This is never to our advantage, but it is always to our own hurt, to the disparagement of the truth, and usually to the ridicule of another or others. When we engage in this sort of shameful folly, we are sure to misjudge, and we will always arrive at a false conclusion. (How can it be otherwise?) The doctrine of this wonderful proverb is very simple: when we judge without hearing and speak without knowing, we manifest shameful folly.