Proverbs 27:12

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and and are punished.
– Proverbs 27:12

This saying is the same as Proverbs 22:3, and captures a key teaching about wisdom in the book of Proverbs. The prudent man is contrasted with the simple. Their outcomes are different in that the prudent are hidden from calamity and the simple suffer a penalizing consequence. The word for prudent means shrewd and applies to the ability to make plans. The word for simple means naive, or insensible. The different outcomes are because the prudent looks ahead and perceives problems and the simple plunge forward thoughtlessly and carelessly.




Proverbs 22:3

A prudent man foreseeth evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
– Proverbs 22:3

The word for prudent means shrewd, or sensible. The word can be used negatively in terms of crooked schemes, as seen in the three uses outside of Proverbs (Genesis 3:1; Job 5:12; 15:5). The word is used positively in Proverbs to refer to planning ability. Such wisdom is the result of receiving instruction, correction, and training. The prudent man has learned to look to the end of the way. He sees the potential for calamity and takes refuge from it. The word for simple means silly, or naïve. They plunge forward in life with little or no thought about what lies ahead. The word for punishment means penalty and here indicates the simple have to pay for their mistakes. Put plainly, the simple lack wisdom, but there is hope for the simple, if they will learn wisdom (Proverbs 1:2-5; 8:5; 9:4-6).

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Proverbs 21:11

When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.
– Proverbs 21:11

Teachability is a mark of maturing and growing in wisdom (Proverbs 1:5; 9:9). The proverb contrasts the wise and the simple. The wise receives instruction and the simple has to see the scorner punished to wise up. Proverbs teaches us wisdom is imparted by instruction, correction, warning, and punishment. The wiser we are, the less time we will spend toward the punishment end of that scale.

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Proverbs 19:25

Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
– Proverbs 19:25

The scorner, the simple, and the man of understanding feature in this proverb. The distinction revolves around how correction is received. The word for scorner means to mock and scoff. Scorning is where the simple will end up if they do not receive correction and instruction (Proverbs 14:18). The word for simple means foolish, or naïve. Proverbs paints the simple as thoughtless and easily led (Proverbs 14:15; 15:21). Reproof alone will seldom correct the simple. They need stronger demonstration (Proverbs 21:11). The word for understanding means to separate mentally, or discern. Wise men have understanding and so instructions and reproofs are more effective and profitable for them (Proverbs 9:9-10; 15:5; 17:10).

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Proverbs 14:18

The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
– Proverbs 14:18

The word for inherit means to acquire and it speaks of the reward to the simple. The simple man is easily led astray. If not corrected, he progresses in his simplicity until he fully possesses folly (Proverbs 19:25; 1:32). On the other hand, the prudent grow in wisdom until they are compassed with knowledge (Proverbs 3:35; 4:7-9). The word for crowned means to encircle round. It’s uncertain if the meaning is an ornament, but it definitely speaks to the reward of wisdom. The good news is the simple are called upon to come to wisdom (Proverbs 9:4-6). Those who do are prudent and gain the reward of wisdom (Proverbs 9:9-11).

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Proverbs 14:15

The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
– Proverbs 14:15

Verses 15-17 speak directly to wisdom and folly, while verse 18 speaks to the reward to each. This proverb contrasts the gullibility of the simple with the discernment of the prudent. The simple thoughtlessly take in what they hear and are easily led astray. To him it is all in good fun (Proverbs 15:21). The naïveté of the simple leads them to trouble (Proverbs 22:3). The word for prudent means shrewd and can be negative or positive given the context. It can refer negatively to schemes, or positively to making plans. His character is described here as discerning, so he proceeds cautiously (Proverbs 4:26; 14:8). Because he looks ahead with discernment, he can foresee evil and avoid it (Proverbs 27:12).

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Proverbs 9:6

Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
– Proverbs 9:6

Any true call to wisdom necessarily means a departing from that that is not wisdom. The foolish, or the simple ones, are not fit companions and coming to wisdom means leaving their company. This is consistent in the call to wisdom throughout Proverbs (Proverbs 4:14-15; 13:20). Turning to understanding, i.e. discernment, is a turning into the way, which is a road put here for course of life. It is not momentary or isolated. It is a change of life.

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Proverbs 9:4

Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
– Proverbs 9:4

The word for simple means silly or gullible. It describes one uninitiated in the ways of the world, and so easily led (Proverbs 14:15). Wanteth understanding means lacking intelligence. These are the early stages toward becoming a fool and scorner if wisdom is not received by them. Wisdom calls for those who need wisdom to turn in to her. This means to turn aside from the way you are on and to go to wisdom and her way. The rest of the call continues in the next two verses.

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Proverbs 8:5

O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
– Proverbs 8:5

Simple means gullible or naïve. The simple person is thoughtless and careless. Fools are obstinately stupid in life. It is not a comment on their mental capacity, but rather their willfulness in foolishness. Wisdom is a broad term that means prudence, shrewdness, or discernment. Wisdom is thoughtful, deliberate, and careful. Understanding points more specifically to discernment and an understanding heart speaks of having good sense. The cry and design of wisdom is to give wisdom and understanding to the simple and the fools. All men are born simple and foolish. We must grow in wisdom and understanding by taking heed to the cry and words of wisdom.

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