- Proverbs 14:15
“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looks well to his going.” - Prov. 14:15 (Cf. ver. 8; 4:26; 6:1).
In many times and areas throughout history the idea of “simplicity” has been seen to be almost a virtue and a quality to be cultivated. But, interestingly, Solomon did not see it as such. Here in Proverbs 14:15 he lays out a contrast between what he calls “simplicity” and what he calls “prudence”. The word used for “simple” here is very close to the idea of sincerity and often refers to one who is open and/or honest or direct and without hypocrisy. Now, that does not seem at all negative to us - but the tendency of the definition, in Solomon’s time (nor in centuries after Solomon wrote this) was to apply it to the uneducated, inexperienced or unsophisticated and easily deceived or taken in by those sought to do so. In our more modern times, we might see this as applied to those have grown up, for instance and into “country” boys (not meant as they mean it on television).
Biblically, simplicity is associated with ideas like
- integrity (2 Sam. 15:11),
- without evil (Rom. 16:18),
- generosity (Rom. 12:8),
- a life of devotion to God (2 Cor. 1:12), and
- simply believing the gospel truth (2 Cor. 11:3).
God is said to “preserve” the simple (Ps. 116:6). Proverbs is filled with sayings about the simple, both good and bad (Proverbs 1:22; 14:15, 18; 21:11). As he uses this word in other places (see above) to speak of very positive traits, we must think that, in this instance he likely has those “good” character issue taken to an extreme that put the possessor in some danger of suffering some lack for their presence. This seems to use here in this verse where “simple” idea is contrasted with “prudence”. We can’t believe that Solomon is unaware of the true meaning of the word “simple”, but that he has some specific application in mind, and we see that application momentarily when he contrasts it with the concept of “prudence”.
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