The Simple and the Wise
1.) The Simple Defined.
a. Most often in Proverbs, we see a contrast between the foolish and the wise or prudent. Here is a contrast between the SIMPLE and the wise or prudent.
b. Strong’s: naïve; foolish; open-minded in the sense of open to anything.
c. Dictionary of Biblical Language: persons that are easily deceived or persuaded, showing lack of wisdom and understanding, yet having some capacity to change this condition.
d. It speaks of one who is simple (not deranged), but inexperienced; untaught; easily deceived.
e. Prov. 7:7 – the simple ones (youth) are defined here as being void of understanding.
f. Prov. 22:3 – the simple are defined here as those who are unable to perceive danger or evil or calamity before them… and who usually plow head first into it… to their own detriment.
• This verse is repeated word for word in 27:12. God doesn’t want the youth to miss this point!
g. Rom. 16:17-18 – the simple are deceived easily by false teachers. They are gullible in spiritual things too.
h. Thus, in summary: the simple LACK understanding; they cannot perceive danger or evil; and are easily deceived.
2.) The simple BELIEVE every word…
a. Believe: same word as used in Gen. 15:6 – Abraham believed the Lord. (Trust; rely upon; rest in; believe.)
b. Faith is good—only as long as it rests on the right foundation on truth.
c. The problem with youth and the inexperienced is that they lack the discernment to recognize what is and what is not a good foundation. They believe anything.
3.) It is the nature of youth to be inexperienced and gullible.
a. Little children believe every word.
• They very often believe fairy tales… the tooth fairy… Santa Clause… monsters under the bed…
• Because of this, they can be easily lured away and kidnapped by perverted men by something as simple as a piece of candy… or by a story of a lost kitten.
• The inexperienced child believes every word.
• This is the nature of little children. It’s not their fault that they are immature and inexperienced. It is natural for a young child.
b. Teenagers are a bit more sophisticated, but are still inexperienced in life.
• And while it is GOOD that they have more discernment than the toddlers and elementary grades, it can be MORE dangerous because they THINK they are also experienced… when they are not.
• A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous… especially when accompanied by pride. (I don’t need you to tell me what to do… I can handle things on my own…)
• They can be lured by drug pushers who tell them how awesome marijuana and cocaine are. The simple ones believe it.
• They can be convinced that speeding and racing in a car is harmless fun and no one will get hurt… we’re too smart for that!
• They watch stupid, extreme stunts on TV and think they can try it at home and not get burned.
• Teenagers are not to be blamed for their youth and inexperience either—UNLESS they have been told the way of wisdom and reject it.
• Lady Wisdom cries to such: “How long ye simple ones will ye love simplicity?”
• They are culpable for that kind of willful simplicity…
• Just because you THINK you can handle something, doesn’t mean that you CAN handle it.
• Solomon is not finding fault with teenagers. It isn’t your fault that you are inexperienced. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be seasoned and experienced except through TIME… years of living.
• But it IS the fault of young people, when they reject sound advice from those who ARE experienced.
c. Young men are lured away by the words of an immoral woman… and believe her.
• Prov. 9:4 – the simple one is one who is immoral… and is deceived by the immoral woman… and thus susceptible to the awful consequences of immorality.
• Prov. 9:13-18 – the simple woman calls simple youth to immorality… the simple is one who is OPEN to anything… gullible… not thinking of the consequences.
• The simplicity of youth extends to many other areas of life as well.
d. The simple often spend their money foolishly…
• They lack the discernment to know the difference between a wise purchase and a foolish purchase.
• They can easily be hoodwinked by a smooth talking salesman.
• PT Barnum made a fortune on such folks: a sucker is born every hour.
• No wonder Solomon constantly speaks about the value of getting good advice… counsel… and the folly of rejecting good counsel.
e. Solomon was a keen observer of human nature. He recorded his inspired findings for us.
• The young and inexperienced are gullible. They believe every word.
• And yet they often will NOT believe the truth.
• To prove the point—there are probably some young people who are saying to themselves: “I am not gullible!”
• The problem is, that when you lack experience and discernment, you usually don’t KNOW that you lack it. And that perpetuates the problem… and makes it even worse.
• It’s one thing to lack understanding and know it… and therefore seek wisdom. That’s the beginning of wisdom.
• It is another thing to lack understanding and NOT know it… hence, not seek it because you think you already have it.
• Wisdom demands that the youth acknowledge their lack of experience. That’s the first step on the road to true wisdom…
• This is not an intellectual or IQ issue. This is a matter of the HEART—humility!
• And once your inexperience is humbly acknowledged, then SEEK help, guidance, and understanding from older folks who DO have experience!
• This is where parents come in. The youth are hearing thousands of voices crying out to them to do this or that. LISTEN to your parents! Parents are older than you… and have more experience than you… and want the BEST for you… much more so than your equally gullible peers!
• A young person is well on his way to LEAVING simplicity behind and BECOMING wise… when he recognizes his need… when he recognizes his inexperience… and is able to appreciate the experience and wisdom of older folks!
• There is nothing wrong with the youth being immature or inexperienced. That’s what youth is all about.
• But there IS something wrong with youth being immature and inexperienced… and REJECTING guidance from those who have experience.
4.) Prov. 22:3 – the simple are unable to foresee evil, and hence, are susceptible to the awful consequences of such simplicity.
a. Hence, the book of Proverbs… it was written so that the simple MIGHT OBTAIN the kind of discretion and wisdom necessary to keep them from trouble… from falling and failing.
b. To achieve moral and spiritual maturity, the naive are encouraged to receive prudence (?Prov. 1:4?).
c. Proverbs is written so that the inexperienced—the simple—might become wise… and that this would prevent them from learning life’s lessons the hard way… and suffering for their folly for years to come!
5.) But of course, SIMPLICITY is not confined to the youth and inexperienced.
a. There are a lot of older folks who are foolish too… and simple!
b. There are older folks who believe every word. (John the Baptist in PA!)
c. Many believe in evolution… we evolved from apes. (or starfish!)
d. Many older folks are spiritually gullible too—hence the proliferation of false doctrine and cults… full of simple people who love simplicity… and will not listen to God’s Word.
1. The terms:
a. The prudent man:
• Prudent: wise; subtle; shrewd; crafty; sly; sensible…
b. Looketh well: to discern; understand; consider; to perceive; has insight.
• This is usually the result of learning… both through guidance and wisdom of others and from gaining experience through the school of hard knocks.
2. Wise prudent men stop, look, and listen and think carefully.
a. Prov. 4:26-27 – Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
b. The simple hear someone make a suggestion and say, “Yea, that’s a good idea. Let’s do it!”
c. The prudent man THINKS about it long and hard before he commits himself to it.
d. He wants to think about the consequences… where it will lead…
e. And a spiritually wise man will want to think about “is this God’s will? Can I do this for God’s honor and glory? Is this good for my spiritual life? For my testimony?”
3. Prov. 22:3 – the prudent man SEES the potential trouble spots ahead hides himself from that which is dangerous, evil, not productive or fruitful.
a. Youth and inexperience get something in their head and plow right ahead without thinking… and often pay a price.
b. Wisdom waits… stops… takes a deep breath… and thinks… and prays… and seeks guidance… and observes dangers and decides against it.
c. Wise men think. Wise men are more conservative. He proves all things.
d. The simple rush into anything.
4. As a Christian, it is good to have a healthy dose of skepticism.
a. Eph. 4:14 – children are tossed to and fro by false teachers. The wise are not.
b. I John 4:1 – believe NOT every spirit, but try the spirits!
c. Acts 17:11 – the Bereans were more noble because of their healthy dose of skepticism. They listened, but they searched the Scriptures too to make sure.
6.) Prov. 21:11 – the simple one CAN learn and become wise. (19:25)
a. This is one reason why we have been spending Wednesday nights in Proverbs for the last four years.
b. Prov. 1:4 – proverbs gives subtlety to the simple.
c. Our kids need to hear such things… even the verses and themes that are repeated!
d. Of course it’s good for us older folks too! We can always use more wisdom, discernment, and experience!
7. The word of God teaches the simple to BECOME WISE
a. Psalm 19:7 – the word of God makes WISE the simple.
b. Psalm 119:130 – the Word gives UNDERSTANDING to the simple.
c. Prov. 1:22 – Lady Wisdom cries out to the simple ones to abandon their simplicity and come to her for wisdom.
d. In a sense, this is what growth and maturity is all about… gradually leaving behind the foolish and simple ways of youth… and come more and more to rely on the way of wisdom.