At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it,Proverbs 18:13
it is folly and shame unto him
This verse is found in the same chapter as Prov. 18:17, and is a close brother to it. When you hear one person present his case, everything seems compelling and reasonable—up until the cross-examination starts. At that point, you discover that there was quite a bit more to the story.
The sin of jumping to conclusions is addressed in a different way in this verse, but it is in effect the same sin. A person who answers too quickly, or too abruptly, is a person who is answering before he actually knows what the question is.
Too often we try to mortify the sinful reactions of our flesh when what we really need to do is mortify the wrong-headed analysisdone by our flesh. Suppose there is someone whose default settings cause them to “find fault” with someone else whenever something goes wrong. That someone is usually in the immediate proximity, and so the instant “analysis” is that they did something wrong that “caused this unfortunate event.” And then, supposing the person with these negative settings to be a sincere Christian who wants to do right, he spends all his spiritual energy trying to mortify those feelings of resentment over the wrong-doing of others.
To take an absurd example, he wakes up one morning to find his dog dead in the neighbor’s driveway. He assumes immediately (and erroneously) that his neighbor ran over his dog, and so he spends a great deal of time mortifying the sin of resenting his neighbor. But he is mortifying the wrong sin. He actually needs to be mortifying the sin of jumping to conclusions. He needs to inculcate the virtue of withholding judgment.
Before we can learn how to appropriately respond to any situation, we have to understand what that situation actually is. If we do not do this, then we are answering before the question is even out. Because this kind of analysis is frequently so quick, it is easy to mistake it for insight or wisdom. But this proverb says that this is not quick-witted, but rather hasty-minded. And to be hasty in this way is folly and shame.