Why should we read and study the Proverbs? Here we receive additional reasons why knowing and studying this material is so important to us.
We begin with the biblical fact that we are fallen due to sin. This is so important for us to understand, because it reminds us that we are so prone to being deceived and led astray. Far too many people do not begin with the sinfulness of the human heart as a starting place for learning and wisdom. We tend to deceive ourselves in thinking that we cannot be deceived. Thus we tend to be naive and don't question ourselves in our decisions and in our natural way of thinking. Here is where the wisdom of God is our greatest friend. Solomon writes that the proverbs are written to give prudence to the naive and discretion to the youth. Let's take a look at both o these things as we consider a little bit of wisdom today.
The naive are the ones who are simpleminded and foolish. The Hebrew word here refers to the person who is naive and too simpleminded when considering the complexities and challenges of life itself. They do not have suficient understanding or perception to properly grasp how to make decisions in life. The naive are very broadminded - but not in a good way. What they need is skillfulness in discerning things. They need an ability to detect subtleties in life. The word for prudence actually means a craftiness which we usually consider a bad thing. But for the one who is wise it is the ability to see through things - and to detect trickery and the kind of thinking that sets traps. In Joshua 9 when the Gibeonites deceived Israel with their appearance - Joshua was deceived because he did not use the proper prudence to detect the craftiness of these wicked men. Because Joshua simple trusted his eyes and the supposed honesty of the Gibeonites motives and words - he was deceived and led astray.
Unfortunately we live in a fallen world where appearances do not always relfect the truth of a situation. This is why we need God's perspective and counsel in all matters. Yes, it would be wonderful if all men and women were perfectly honest - but they are not. There are amazing subtlties in life that can only be properly understood by knowing God and going to Him for wisdom and understanding.
The second half of today's proverb says to us that the youth needs knowledge and discretion. All of us have been and have known youths who know everything. They have no need for anyone to share additional knowledge - nor do they need to know the ways of mankind - because they know everything. This is definitely a product of of sin entering our world. We desperately need for the youths in our lives to hear and increase in knowledge. It is only by adding knowledge and a better skill in distinguishing things that have subtle differences that they will grow in wisdom. Without such a growth in wisdom, they will find themselves in serious trouble - and as we learn often in Scripture - deceived and led astray from God's ways. Therefore we need to keep our minds and our hearts open to God's Word and the teaching of His Spirit concerning wisdom. God wants us to have a greater ability to detect and discern His ways and paths. If we keep our hearts wide open to Him - we will know that wisdom and will be kept from many problems that might otherwise trip us up in life.