Some Simple Advice for the Simple-Minded

1 Does not wisdom call?
    Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
    at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
“To you, O men, I call,
    and my cry is to the children of man.
O simple ones, learn prudence;
    O fools, learn sense.
Hear, for I will speak noble things,
    and from my lips will come what is right,
for my mouth will utter truth;
    wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are righteous;
    there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
They are all straight to him who understands,
    and right to those who find knowledge.
10 Take my instruction instead of silver,
    and knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is better than jewels,
    and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. – Proverbs 8:1-11 ESV

Kids are simple. Their thinking is simple. The world in which they live is simple – at least from their perspective. They are simple creatures driven by very simplistic emotions and urges. And their simplistic and sometimes foolish take on life is summed in the 18-Century nursery rhyme, Simple Simon.

Simple Simon met a pieman,
Going to the fair;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
Let me taste your ware.
Says the pieman to Simple Simon,
Show me first your penny;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
Indeed I have not any.
Simple Simon went a-fishing,
For to catch a whale;
All the water he had got,
Was in his mother’s pail.
Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle;
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.
Simple Simon was immature and lacked the wisdom that comes from age and experience. He didn’t know any better than to fish for a whale in a bucket. He wasn’t familiar enough with horticulture to know that plums don’t grow on thorn bushes. And he had not yet learned that age-old lesson that you don’t get something for nothing, including a piece of pie.

A hungry child knows no better than to want to eat. A sad child cries. A happy child laughs. They are inherently trusting of just about everyone, to a fault. If given the right motivation, like candy or the promise of a toy, they will follow a stranger – gladly, willingly, and confidently. Children lack discernment and good judgment. They are pleasantly open-minded and easily deceived. But the sad thing is that many adults have these same child-like characteristics. They never grow out of their innocent and simplistic way of thinking. Forty-year-olds can be just as guilty as four-year-olds of being naive, simple-minded, and lacking in good judgment.

Then there’s the fool, who is slightly different than the simple person. He’s actually another form of a fool, a more advanced version you might say. The Hebrew word is kecîyl and it refers to a sensual fool, an individual who is driven by his passions. Like a child, he tends to focus on whatever brings him immediate gratification. He glories in that of which he should be ashamed. He has learned to justify his actions and defend his choices as being right. But this is no longer a case of simplistic thinking but of willful disobedience. He rejects the instruction and discipline of his parents and all other authorities in his life. So, Solomon pleads with this person, “Show some understanding!” Live your life like you know better. Have some common sense.

But here’s the problem for both the simple-minded and the fool. They both lack the ability to show good judgment or display understanding. They don’t have it within them to do what they need to do. They are deficient. They are operating at a disadvantage. That is exactly why Wisdom offers its help.

My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. – Proverbs 8:8-10 NLT

God offers wisdom, good judgment, knowledge, discernment, and common sense. In other words, He offers exactly what the simpleton and the fool need. He says, “Whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But those who miss me injure themselves. All who hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:35-36 NLT).

This is serious business. Simplicity in a child is expected. But we also expect them to grow out of it. Continued simplicity in an adult can be deadly. A life devoid of good judgment and understanding is ultimately a dangerous one. It will not end well. A life marked by foolishness, driven by immediate gratification and sensual pleasures is one that lacks a clear understanding of what we were made for and where true joy comes from. That person will never find fulfillment and lasting joy. But when we turn to God, we find all that we need. We discover an endless source of wisdom, good judgment, knowledge, discernment, common sense, insight, and understanding. We find what it means to walk in righteousness and justice. making good choices, living lives that are honoring to God, and a source of blessing to our fellow man. But it all begins with the acknowledgment of our insufficiencies and inadequacies. We have to admit our simplicity and confess our foolishness. We have to recognize our need for God, humbly coming to Him for His assistance. When we do, we will find life and favor. It’s as simple as that.

Solomon portrays Wisdom as the persistent pursuer of the simple and foolish. She stands at the very crossroads of life, calling out to all who pass by, begging them to listen to what she has to say. In Solomon’s way of thinking, Wisdom is the very personification of God. The image Solomon paints is one that features the God of the universe offering his gift of wisdom to any and all who will listen.

Listen as Wisdom calls out!
    Hear as understanding raises her voice!
On the hilltop along the road,
    she takes her stand at the crossroads.
By the gates at the entrance to the town,
    on the road leading in, she cries aloud… – Proverbs 8:1-3 NLT

His offer goes out to all, but the simple and foolish receive special attention.

“I call to you, to all of you!
    I raise my voice to all people.
You simple people, use good judgment.
    You foolish people, show some understanding.
Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you.” – Proverbs 8:4-6 NLT

Their very nature prevents them from having good judgment and making wise choices. They are naive and incapable of seeing their own inadequacies and their vulnerability to danger because of their lack of wisdom. They pride themselves on their open-mindedness, unaware that this trait leaves them susceptible to all kinds of lies and deception.

Yet, God offers them truth in place of falsehood, wholesome advice instead of the unhealthy counsel of this world. The benefits of God’s wisdom are priceless and far more valuable in the end than any kind of earthly treasure man could pursue. And wisdom comes with a bonus offer. Get wisdom and you also get good judgment, knowledge, discernment, common sense, and insight – all at no extra cost!

Wisdom is far more than just some kind of knowledge or ability we receive from God so we can live more successfully. It is the very essence of God. It is part of His nature. God used His wisdom to create the world. The wisdom of God was instrumental in forming the oceans, heavens, mountains, and even mankind.

“I was the architect by his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence.” – Proverbs 8:30 NLT

Wisdom and God are inseparable. One does not exist without the other. The wisdom talked about in these Proverbs is the very wisdom of God – eternal, divine, endless, complete, inexhaustible, and unavailable anywhere else. God is offering us His wisdom – the same wisdom He used to form the world and the universe. Find it, and you will have everything you need for life.

“For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 8:35 NLT

God’s wisdom calls to us from the pages of Scripture every day of our lives. He offers His divine wisdom through His inspired Word. As believers, we have His Holy Spirit living within us, helping us understand and apply the wisdom of God to our everyday lives. But receiving the wisdom of God begins with a healthy awe for God and a willing obedience to do what He says simply because of who He is. If His wisdom resulted in the universe and all that it contains, surely it can help us navigate the affairs of life. The wisdom of God is all we need. But are we truly convinced of that fact? Until we are, we will never seek it or value it in our lives, and we will continue to be nothing more than 21st-Century Simple Simons going to the fair.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

New English Translation (NET)NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.