For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, —(Proverbs 1:32)

This is an interesting statement because simplicity appears to be commended in the Bible elsewhere. For instance in Psalms 131, we read,

My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (v 1,2)

So how is the simplicity described in Proverbs different from what we read in Psalms 131? The latter describes the need for man to have child-like faith. How so very often we complicate life by trying to figure out God! Life is full of incomprehensible matters and faith requires that we still and quiet our minds and emotions and come to God trusting him for our needs and for our lives. The Psalmist talks of a state of mind that remains calm in the face of challenges and uncertainties because it is anchored by faith in the living God. As faith grows our souls become more rested and simple and that is to be appreciated.

However, in Proverbs we see a different sort of simplicity that is dangerous. This simplicity is one where man finds it difficult to stay on course. Every influence or pattern that he comes across grabs his attention, influences him and invites him. He finds himself drawn to what his friends and peers practice. The norms of society influence his lifestyle.

Every person lives out a life that reflects the philosophy that he holds dear to his heart. An atheist subconsciously lives out a life that does not value moral laws because the moral law-giver has been done away with. A pantheist ascribes no personality to God and hence can never relate to his concept of the infinite with any of the human attributes that define a meaningful relationship. The extent to which a Christian honors God within his heart will determine the extent to which he would be able to honor God with his daily life. For the simple, the stature of God within him is just not large enough to counter the numerous influences that society throws at him and he finds it impossible to practice Jesus’ injunction,

‘Be not conformed to the pattern of this world’ (Romans 12:2).

The story that comes to mind is that of Samson (Judges 16) who was given a unique calling by God and equipped with superhuman strength. However, he goes from hero and judge of Israel to blinded prisoner because of his waywardness with Delilah. In fact his waywardness makes him blind to reality despite obvious moves by Delilah to capture him and rather than break free, he goes headlong into disaster when he tells her the secret of his strength.

That is the waywardness of the simple. Much like a driver who cannot stay in his lane and endangers himself and others, such a person is on dangerous ground. However, when the light of Christ comes to him and the word of God illuminates his paths, simplicity is replaced by wisdom that keeps waywardness in check, putting him on the highway to eternal life.


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