As a pastor, I have been amazed at the difference among Christians when it comes to accepting instruction. Some never seem to learn! Many believers remain keenly aware of God’s leading, submitting to every nuance of His internal prompting, but many other churchgoing followers of Christ insist on learning the hard way. They are exposed to the same truths year after year, but wisdom fails to soak in. Multiple warnings from family and friends go unheeded. Brushes with disaster fail to alter their course. Even as they sit in the rubble of sin’s consequences, they typically ask, “How did this happen? Why am I suffering?”
When I came across three types of individuals in Scripture, I began to understand these people struggle with a common problem. They are people of opposition; they oppose God’s instruction. These rebels come in three varieties, each described in Proverbs by Solomon and his fellow wise men. We will examine each of these three over the next few days.
Wise King Solomon called the first opposing group “the simple-minded.”
The Hebrew noun peti is based on a verb that means “to be spacious, open, wide.” It carries the idea of being completely open, undiscerning, unable or unwilling to distinguish between truth and falsehood; of being easily misled, quickly enticed, and easily falling prey to deception. The naive are susceptible to evil and easily influenced by any opinion. They are usually unable to cope with life’s complexities, especially if the situation requires a great deal of mental effort.
In Hebrew culture, children are expected to be simple-minded. They lack the education, experience, and training to be discerning. Therefore, parents had the sacred duty to protect naive young ones from deception and to equip them for adulthood. Few tolerated simple-minded adults, however. Except in cases of mental impairment, adults remained naive by choice and therefore deserved to suffer the consequences of their simple-mindedness.
Reading through Proverbs, I found several traits of the simple:
I looked out through my lattice,
And I saw among the naive,
And discerned among the youths
A young man lacking sense,
Passing through the street near [the harlot’s] corner;
And he takes the way to her house,
In the twilight, in the evening,
In the middle of the night and in the darkness.
Suddenly he follows her
As an ox goes to the slaughter. (7:6–9, 22)
“Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,”
And to him who lacks understanding she says,
“Stolen water is sweet;
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
But he does not know that the dead are there,
That her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (9:16–18)
The naive believes everything,
But the sensible man considers his steps. (14:15)
The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the naive go on, and are punished for it. (22:3)
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
In Embraced by the Spirit, we step away from the heat of theological battle that analyzes and criticizes and move quietly and closely to the One who has been sent alongside to help.