Take a look at Proverbs 1:22 and Proverbs 1:32. These two verse go well together, as one would expect if you’re reading by chapters. From the first one, we see that some people are choosing to remain naive. What is naivety in Proverbs?
It’s the natural state of the young. This is those who are not explicitly wicked, but really just do not know right from wrong, left hand from right hand. Naivety is not a bad thing to start with, for it is what we all start off with.
There comes a point where naivete becomes simple-mindedness. I choose that label over “simplicity” because our usage tends to see define these differently, and simplicity not such a bad thing. Simplicity in terms of not needing all the complex gadgets or the complex life to sustain them is actually pretty beneficial at times. Simplicity that makes gifts and meals rather than works extra hours away from relationships to buy those items is good.
Simple-mindedness, though, is not good. To live life without paying attention to the reality of life is what simple-mindedness is. It’s a willful intention to not bother learning what is going on around you. Simple-mindedness can run positively or negatively: you can always assume the best or the worst about others.
Solomon comes to the point, and asks whether or not those who remain simple-minded are simply doing so out of laziness. The question raises this point: if you choose to remain simple-minded, then you become part of the problem. Scoffers are encouraged, fools are strengthened, because they see you blundering about, and just go on themselves.
This is reinforced in v. 32 where complacency and naivete are the fatal issue. Folks that take the “I’ll think about that tomorrow” approach just do not realize how much danger delay brings on. Consider history and its lessons: how often have the wicked advanced because of complacency?
It is our call as those learning to live skillfully in fear of YHWH to be aware of the world around us. We need to learn and grow, being ready to engage with what is happening around us. True, we must be discerning and careful about our involvement, but we need to know some basics of life.
Staying pure is a valid task for the believer. Staying clueless should be avoided.
Know what’s happening, because we are aliens in the land, citizens of another place, and we better be prepared for that reality.