Prov. 14:15; 22:3; 8:5; 1:32
Yesterday we looked at the mocker, so today is Mr. Simple’s turn. Unlike the first man, this one has some hope. He hasn’t completely turned away from God’s ways, but he has some major problems, as we’ll see.
So what do we mean by this term? In English the word's not always pejorative; we sometimes say that someone has “simple” tastes (as opposed to refined or ostentatious ones). Politicians will often try to present themselves as having a “simple man” background, by which they usually mean lower to middle class. But the term here has absolutely nothing to do with one’s place on the economic or social scale.
Here it's used for someone who doesn’t think clearly about the issues and dangers of life. Another word might be “naïve.” They aren’t evil, and they don’t consciously set out to rebel against God. But because of the world in which we live, and the sinful tendencies we’ve inherited, they’re going to eventually drift onto a self-destructive path unless there’s some direct intervention. Let’s look at some characteristics of this guy, and then we’ll briefly discuss the prevention/cure for his ailments.
The first word that comes to mind when Solomon holds him up for study is “gullible.” He believes whatever he hears, and fails to put the latest rumors to the “smell” test: Does this make sense? Another proverb tells us that “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines,” which obviously applies in nonlegal settings as well in the courtroom; in other words, critically examine what you hear, and hold it up for skeptical scrutiny. This is especially serious when it comes to spiritual matters. How many immature Christians have fallen for heretical nonsense because they heard it from a man who has “Reverend” or “Pastor” in his title?! In journalism school they have a famous slogan: “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” That goes double for anything that any preacher or pastor says from the pulpit.
The second word that should be stamped on this man’s head is “unprepared.” We need to follow the example of the Boy Scouts and “always be prepared” for what lies ahead of us. Take for example a man who has a severe drinking problem. He wants to be sober and turn his life around. So would it be wise for him to be hanging around bars and “friends” who are pressing drinks into his hand? If you know that you have a problem with a certain form of temptation, then you’re following in this guy’s footsteps if you fail to take precautions against what you know is coming.
On a personal note, the verse above has a special significance for me. When I and my future wife were courting, 22:3 was our "slogan" verse when it came to our dealings with each other. We both knew what type of temptations we faced in the sexual arena, and we made an agreement with each other that we were going to do things God's way instead of what our feelings or hormones told us to do. We didn't go into my house together unless someone else was there, we mostly met in public places, and made a conscious choice not to give any opportunity to the temptation to indulge in something we'd regret later. And it worked: By his grace, we were both complete virgins on our wedding night.
So what’s the cure/prevention for this man’s problem? Well, the third verse advises him to “gain prudence.” And where do we get that? Well duh, from wisdom! Prudence is one of the characteristics of wisdom which are listed in the first chapter, remember? And how do we get wise? Well, we said it before: We have to develop a deep and abiding relationship with the Source of all wisdom. But a big part of that is reading his word which he’s given to us. That’s the best resource for seeing beyond appearances and into what’s really going on in the world
Folks, this isn't a game. This is not an option. The final verse for today warns us that the “waywardness of the simple will kill them.” Remember, left to ourselves--just drifting along in life--we'll inevitably end up on a path that’ll wreck--and finally end--the life that God’s given us. The only way for us to avoid it is to consciously decide--by his empowering grace--that we’re going to do things his way, no matter what.
Yes, Lord, I will. I don’t trust myself, I trust you. Thank you for your grace which not only forgives but keeps me from falling in the first place.