People Types of Proverbs

This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on March 6 2016.

The book of Proverbs aims to cultivate wisdom in people – the ability to skilfully navigate through life and its problems. As the book starts off (1:1-7), it identifies three kinds of people that are important to know about as we consider the wisdom that the book of Proverbs offers: the wise, fools and the simple.

The Wise are those who know how to handle tricky situations, they know that work must come before play and that acting on impulse doesn’t pay off in the long run. They aren’t necessarily well educated, but they know how to apply the wisdom of Proverbs to real life situations (how else would you decide whether to use Proverbs 26:4 or 26:5??).

The Simple are those who are young and inexperienced in life (note how the two halves of Proverbs 1:4 fit together). These people are not mature, but they are teachable – and Proverbs aims to set them on the right path early in life.

Finally, there is also the Fool. This person doesn’t care for wisdom or instruction from others. He is directed instead by impulse, pleasure, his ego or by gain at whatever cost. His behaviour is self-defeating – through bad decisions, laziness, the pursuit of worthless things, a short fuse or a smart mouth, he spoils his own life. He isn’t teachable, and what he does learn doesn’t help him (1:7; 26:7, 9).

Which ‘people type’ do you identify the most with? If you recognise yourself as one of ‘the simple’, or even a ‘fool’, then you can in fact begin to learn wisdom. If you think you’d fit better among ‘the wise’ (don’t be too humble!), then perhaps you could go out of your way to help along people younger than yourself in the path wise and godly living.