Are you wise or simple? Proverbs- Week 7- Day 1

(8) The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit...(15) The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.

Proverbs 14:8, 15

Explanation:

The passage in Proverbs this week has a particular kind of poetic or narrative structure that was somewhat common in ancient near-eastern literature.  It’s called a “chiasm” or “chiastic structure”.  Chiastic structure, or chiastic pattern, is a literary technique in narrative motifs and other textual passages. An example of chiastic structure would be two ideas, A1 and B1, together with variants A2 and B2, being presented as A1,B1,B2,A2.   Let me give you an example from the New Testament:

A1  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,

            B1        neither cast ye your pearls before swine,

            B2        lest they trample them under their feet,

A2  and turn again and rend you.

Matthew 7:6 

In this example it is obvious that the dogs are the ones “rending”, and the swine are the ones who “trample”.  The first phrase (A1) corresponds to the last phrase (A2) and the two phrases in the middle (B1 and B2) correspond to each other.  Traditionally the innermost part of the Chiasm is what is being emphasized.  Chiasm’s can be as small as one verse, and as large as whole chapters.  It has even been suggested that Luke and Acts, 2 parts of one work by the same author, are written as a chiasm.

The scripture we are studying this week in Proverbs 14:8-15 are written in chiastic structure.  Consider the text this way:

  • A1(8) The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.  
    • B1 (9)  Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.  
      • C1 (10)  The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.
        • D (11)  The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.   (12)  There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
      • C2 (13)  Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.  
    • B2 (14)  The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.  
  • A2  (15)  The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
    Proverbs 14:8-15 

Now that you see the way the text is structured, you can see why I have highlighted the verses as I have.  Most of the time we “walk through the passage” verse by verse.  This week we are going to walk through the passage according to this pattern.  Today we have highlighted verses 8 and 15 (A1 and A2).

Notice that verses 8 and 15 both talk about two kinds of people.  Let’s look at what these verses say about each one.

First, we meet the prudent.  The prudent person seeks to “understand his way” in verse 8.  And in verse 15 the prudent man “looketh well to his going”.  These verses explain that a prudent person thinks about how they are living and what they are doing.  The prudent person is not haphazard about decisions and direction.  They take it very seriously.  They think and plan considering and seeking for what God wants, and how He has designed the world.

Next, we meet the simple and foolish person.  These are 2 descriptive names that describe the same kind of person.  In verse 15 you see the simple person as one who “believeth every word”.  In verse 8 the fool’s folly is deceit.  The idea is that they believe people who tell them lies, not looking to their way because they want to believe the lies they are being told.  They may believe every word because they don’t take the time to think about what they are being told and are therefore naive.  In contrast to the prudent who thinks carefully about their way, the fool does not and suffers for it.  It is their folly.

Application:

I think the application to today’s text is pretty clear, but can be as profound as you make it.  Which person are you?  Prudent or simple? Wise or foolish?

Are you a simple person?

  • A simple person does not take time to plan their lives.  Life happens to them and they react.  They do not think about the way they are living.  There is no introspection, evaluation or planning.  
  • A simple person takes what they are told only at face value.  A simple person never investigates or verifies what they are being told. They are easily deceived.  Have you ever questioned any of your basic assumptions?  You see, everyone has faith in something.  No person can know everything, but that does not mean you cannot know anything.  Do not become easy prey for the enemies of God.

Are you a wise person?

  • What habits or processes do you have to investigate your life?  Do you think about how you are living? 
    • Do you have a daily “quiet time” in which you talk to God and let the Word of God discern the thoughts and intents of your heart?
    • Do you have a plan for your time, called a schedule?  
    • Do you have a plan for your resources, called a budget?

Response:

As you have read the contrast between the simple and wise person today what actions do you need to take to begin to live wisely?

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