TURN BACK BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!
I SMELL TROUBLE!
I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS…
Following these lines, we see our intrepid heroes face the danger and find some way to succeed. Usually they find someone else in danger along the way, rescue them, and everyone rejoices. Sometimes, though, the only people that end up in danger are their own compatriots and the heroism is saving themselves from trouble of their own making. (Can you say “Don’t wander off, Rose?”)
Proverbs 22:3 has something to say about our behavior in light of danger signs, though, as we are warned that the prudent man will hide himself. It is the naive who go straight in and deal with negative consequences.
A few thoughts here:
First: The “naive” are not the same as the “fools” or even the “simple” who are viewed negatively in the Proverbs. This is better seen as the contrast between the experienced (or the imaginative) and the untried and inexperienced. The naivete can be overcome, and should be. The question for many of us is whether or not we will lose that naivete through the experience of others or insist on learning the hard way.
Second: The prudent are aware of the problems, of the evil impending. They make provision for their own preservation in those cases. This is a commendable action, and there is not a hint here of selfishness. There is no indication that the prudent do not aid others. In the wider context, one expects the prudent, like the wise, to issue warnings of the impending trouble.
Third: Consider this in concert with the context. Proverbs was directed toward the next generation of rulers. How does this apply to a would-be king? Perhaps he should consider more carefully the results of his actions. Perhaps he should look at the evils of this world and prepare protection not only for himself but for his people. Only the naive expect everyone to be nice out there.
Fourth: This cuts against those who mock preparation and concern as the antithesis of faith. The prudent are not without faith, they are simply trusting that God-given good sense is to be used.
Fifth: This also does not deny God’s hand in preserving us in unforeseeable outcomes or from overwhelming wickedness. This Proverb simply says that if we know better, we should act on it.
It’s not about running from necessary heroics, but it is about avoiding the danger if possible in the first place.