Though you grind a fool in a mortar,
grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them. (Proverbs 27:22)
Solomon is talking here about some tools that were very familiar to his hearers, but that we don't think about much, today. A mortar is a bowl, and it's typically made of very hard wood, ceramic, or hollowed-out stone. The pestle is a heavy object with one end larger than the other, which is usually made of wood (or porcelain for medicinal grinding). Whatever you wish to crush or grind is placed in the mortar and then the pestle is used to grind or crush the substance. Sometimes a mixture would be made by crushing more than one substance together in the mortar. This system was used in food preparation, as well, in removing the husks or hulls from grain, so that it could be ground for flour.
Though it is not impossible for a foolish person to be reached by the Holy Spirit, a fool will continue to do evil, no matter how he or she is pressed or punished. Solomon says it is the identifying mark of a foolish person. Look at what the prophet Jeremiah said:
Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?A foolish person is not willing to change. It is part of their nature to do what they do, and many times they do not even believe that there is a God. Jeremiah said that the people "hardened their faces and refused to repent."
You struck them, but they felt no pain;
you crushed them, but they refused correction.
They made their faces harder than stone
and refused to repent. (Jeremiah 5:3)
Is there something in our lives that God has pointed out to us, that we need to correct, or get rid of? Has He nudged us and reminded us of that sin? Will He have to place us in a "mortar" of hardship in order to get our attention, or will we repent --- turn away from that sin and become more like Him? Through prayer and study of His word, He can gradually change us into the person that we can become; we can reach our full potential, and be used by Him for His glory. Perhaps we need to pray and ask our Father to show us the "foolishness" that is lurking in our lives, and help us to root it out.