Prudent Verses Simple

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,
But the simple pass on and are punished.”
Proverbs 22:3

 For some reason this morning I was drawn to the above proverb. It seemed to make perfect sense to me, but even so I felt that there was more to this verse than I could read within my translation. So, I pulled out my Hebrew word study, and this is what I found regarding the key words in this scripture.



  • prudent (6175) ārūm – meaning cunning or sly
  • foresees (7200) rā'ah – to look at something in its entirety and be able to perceive it from an all encompassing perspective
  • evil (7451) ra' – something that is bad or of inferior quality
  • hides himself (5641) cȃthar – to hide perfectly with a simple covering
  • simple (6612) pethȃȋy- people who are silly or seducible
  • pass on (5674) 'āvar- a simple movement away from a foundational fixed pillar
  • punished (6064) 'ānāsh– a simple but perfect punishment for a mis-action taken

So, in taking all of those key words and reassembling them back into the verse, here is what we have:

A cunning man looks at a situation in its entirety and is able to perceive it from an all encompassing perspective as to how bad it could be or how inferior its quality compared to similar situations and therefore covers himself simply but effectively from its influence, but on the other hand people who are easily seduced allow their steps to move away from quality teaching and situations and for doing that they receive a perfect punishment equivalent to their mis-actions.”

For some reason the word prudent, which in this particular form is usually used to refer to someone who is not liked or respected, is used instead of a word that would translate into the more honorable meaning of wise. I have to think that just the use of this word alone give a lot of added meaning to this verse. What makes me say that is this? Here is my reasoning: How often are the prudent actions of God's people looked upon with scorn and considered deviant social behavior? Unfortunately a lot.

As Christians we do what God tells us, not the world. But in acting in a manner that seems sly because those on the outside do not understand our intentions but rather superimpose their selfish desires onto the actions of others, then we are seen as doing what we do because there must be some gain in it for us even though those who are watching us have yet to figure out what exactly that may be.

In acting prudently we look at the world and all of the circumstances around us from the full view of God's ways that intertwine throughout them. In taking this encompassing perspective we are then able to clearly see what is true and what is not a (therefore what is evil or inferior to God's ways). We then take clear steps to shelter our lives from the advances of evil so as to protect our hearts. This fact does not give us license to shelter our lives away for the purposes of staying separate from the world, but it does remind us that our hearts, and the hearts of our family members, are not to be compromised with things that are evil – we are to keep our hearts covered in truth and protected from the lies which come at us on a daily basis.

On the flip side there are the people in this world who are easily seduced, who readily walk away from God's pillars of truth and therefore in the end have their hearts exposed to evil and who over time become more and more corrupt in their ways and in their hearts. But, to the world these people are just seen as simple, easy going, and likeable – they have no resistance to moving away as the rest of the crowd is moving in reference to the foundational pillars of God's word and therefore are not a threat to anyone.

As I soak all of this information in, I am more and more realizing how difficult it is to stand in truth and stay strong in the Lord, but then again if I do not live this way, the only other option I am given is to fade away with those who have given up by the fight and who are willingly being seduced by the world. The fight we are called into is not an easy one, but a necessary one that not only protects us but also propels us toward the Lord. If we chose to stay strong we are useful in His hands. Yes, the world will not understand us and we are guaranteed that they will judge us for not going along with them. But if we do not stand up and decide to do what is right, then we have surrendered to the enemy and have allowed punishment to fall upon us.

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