Proverbs 14:18

The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.


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The poor get poorer, and the rich get richer, when it comes to wisdom. If you choose a foolish or stubborn approach to life, God will make sure you get what you deserve – folly. If instead you are wise and prudent, God will give you even more knowledge.

Prudent men know what to do in most situations. They are careful, cautious, and discreet. They take advantage of life’s opportunities, and they steer clear of traps. They are successful and honored in life. They avoid the failure, pain, and trouble that foolish men must endure, who either miss or destroy opportunities and fall into many hurtful snares.

The lesson is simple. Lady Wisdom will honor such a man with greater knowledge. By choosing to fear God and keep His commandments, a man can obtain a crown of knowledge – he will be blessed to know what actions and things are better than others. But if a man refuses to be prudent and wise – by rejecting God and His Word, then he will receive folly and its attendant pain and trouble as his portion throughout life.

What is a simple man? He refuses to fear God and humble himself to obey the Bible. He relies on intelligence, feelings, habits, popular opinion, tradition, or worldly education to guide him. The great God would say he knows nothing at all (Pr 9:13; Is 8:20; I Cor 1:19-20; 3:19-20; I Tim 6:3-5,20-21; II Tim 3:6-7). Simplicity is a choice, and many men make it every day – they love folly and choose to reject God’s wisdom (Pr 1:22,32).

How does a simple man inherit folly? By making choices outside the fear of the Lord and the wisdom of Scripture, he misses truth and ends up with the dysfunctional pain of a fool. Due to a humanistic and naturalistic worldview, he is helplessly ignorant of eternity, reality, truth, and wisdom. He ruins his life on earth by stupidity and stubbornness.

What is a prudent man? He fears God and esteems every precept of Scripture to be right, and he hates every false way (Pr 1:7; 9:10; Ps 119:128). He rejects any other criterion for truth but the Bible. He is far superior to a simple man. When faced with new information, a simple man believes it; but the prudent man is cautious and pessimistic, for he looks for all the contingencies and consequences missed by the simple man (Pr 14:15; 22:3; 27:12).

How is the prudent man crowned with knowledge? By being cautious, critical, and pessimistic about any information outside the Bible, he subjects all information to a rigid criterion – Does God approve it? This mechanism keeps him from delusions, fraud, lies, scams, and traps; it promotes righteousness, truth, and wisdom. He knows what to do in any situation. He has great knowledge that the simple man cannot find (II Tim 3:6-7).

Can a simple man become a prudent man? Yes! That is why Solomon wrote Proverbs (Pr 1:4). Yes! That is why God inspired Scripture (Ps 19:7; 119:130). Wisdom is offered throughout Proverbs and the Bible, but most men do not want it (Pr 8:5; 9:4). They would rather listen to their base lusts and the offers of foolish amusements (Pr 9:13-18). They follow lying seducers, whether whores, friends, educators, or ministers (Pr 7:6-27).

The simple man inherits religious folly, for he cannot detect the lies of false teachers, for he has rejected the only infallible standard by which to test them (Rom 16:17-18; I John 4:1-6). But the prudent man proves all things (Acts 17:11; I Thess 5:21). And he prays often for God to reveal more knowledge to him (Ps 119:18; Phil 1:9-11; Jas 1:5). He is fully convinced that Scripture is sufficient for all he needs to know (II Tim 3:16-17).

You will make many choices today – either based on your simple heart and mind, or based on the infinite heart and mind of God revealed in the Bible. You will either inherit folly as the result of your choice, or you will be blessed and honored with knowledge. It is your choice; the consequences will surely follow; and you will feel them for eternity.

Jesus taught there are four ways to respond to preaching or the Bible – you can respond lackadaisically, and the devil will steal away anything of profit. You can get discouraged with a few difficulties, and you will never amount to anything. You can be distracted with this world’s attractions, and you will never amount to anything. Or you can prepare, focus, review, and apply what you learn from scripture and bear much fruit in your life.

He summarized these four responses and the consequences to His apostles this way, “Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have” (Luke 8:18). The poor get poorer, and the rich get richer, when it comes to wisdom. What will you do with God’s written word and its grandest subject of Jesus Christ this very day?