“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
This verse from Proverbs 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 I 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.
The great question that confronts every person is this: Does what I think or how I feel conform to what is objectively true?
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.”
People who lack discernment are gullible. They are described in this verse as “simple.” The Hebrew word is pthiy, and it refers to someone whose mind is open to being misled by foolishness. It is a mind that lacks discipline and discernment, and therefore easily persuaded by falsehood and easily enticed into believing things that are not true.
The word for “prudent” is the Hebrew arum, and it refers to being thoughtful, shrewd, or sensible. It is someone who is not easily persuaded. Arum people are thoughtful and discerning about what they believe and what they do.
Just a few verses later, Proverbs adds this: “The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.” (Proverbs 14.18)
Again, if you lack discernment and are gullible, you are susceptible to being deceived by the manipulations and 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.
If you are prudent and discerning, then you are able to detect false statements and identify assertions that aren’t true. You are disciplined in your thinking and able to distinguish right from wrong. You will recognize false claims, and you will not be deceived by manipulative schemers.
In summary, don’t be gullible. Trust God and develop the discipline of discernment.