“The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.”
The theme in this section of Proverbs is that wise people have discernment, and foolish people do not. Using the descriptors of Ephesians 4, foolish people operate “in the futility of their minds … they are darkened in their understanding … due to their hardness of heart.”
Proverbs 14 has more to say about the wisdom of discernment and what happens to foolish people when they lack it.
“The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.” (Proverbs 14.8). It sounds funny to say, but foolish people are fooled by their foolishness. They are unaware that they are unaware. The big problem is that they don’t self-evaluate; they don’t challenge their own thinking and assumptions.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14.12). This describes falsehood that is disguised as self-validated truth. Believing something to be true does not make it true, nor does doubting something make it false. Truth exists independent of what someone thinks or how they feel. “Truth” is that which corresponds to what is, not to what someone thinks or feels.
This is one of the biggest cultural challenges of our time: People tend to believe that strong conviction validates whether something is true or false. But again, and we can’t say this strongly enough, truth is not determined by strength of emotion or confidence of thought. Truth exists independent of anyone’s thoughts, feelings, or perceptions.
This is not merely a question of philosophical theory; it is a question with serious, real-world implications. Solomon warns that falsehood disguised as self-validated truth will eventually lead to “death.” Serious indeed!
“The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.”
(Proverbs 14:15). Again, if you lack discernment and are gullible, you are susceptible to being deceived by the deceitful schemes of those who plan evil. As a result, you will inherit folly. You will embrace things that aren’t true, which will inevitably lead to problems.
The great question that confronts every person is this: Does what I think or how I feel conform to what is objectively true?
May we know the truth of God’s Word, and may we seek his wisdom and discernment every day.