The simple believes every word: but the prudent man looks well to his going.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The simple.—See above on Proverbs 1:22.
Believeth every word.—And so, having no fixed principles by which to go, often takes a wrong step; while the prudent man considers well (Proverbs 14:8) whither each step will lead, and therefore does not go astray.Proverbs 14:15. The simple — A foolish man; believeth every word — Is easily deceived with the smooth words and fair pretences of false and deceitful men; but the prudent man — The man well instructed and truly wise; looketh well to his goings — Either, 1st, To his own goings: he ordereth his conversation and dealings in the world with due circumspection, not considering so much what other men say as what he ought to do. Or, 2d, To the goings of the deceiver: that is, he judges of men’s words and professions by their conduct, which is a good rule. He is cautious, examining before he believes, and trying before he trusts, especially in matters of great moment; and considering things maturely before he does as he is advised. Bochart observes well upon this verse, that “as prudence without simplicity degenerates into craft, so simplicity without prudence is no better than downright folly. We must follow our Saviour’s counsel, and unite the serpent with the dove.”Proverbs 1:22). The simple, either the harmless man, or rather a foolish man, because he is opposed to the prudent, believeth every word; is easily deceived with the smooth words and fair pretences of false and deceitful men.
To his going; either,
1. To his own going, as this is generally understood; he ordereth his conversation and dealings in the world with due circumspection, not considering so much what other men say as what he ought to do. Or,
2. To the going of the deceiver, whose the word in the former clause is supposed to be. So the sense is, He judgeth of men’s words and professions by their conversation; which is a good rule, 1 John 4:1; they are "simple", weak, silly, foolish persons, that believe all they hear, whether right or wrong, true or false, good or hurtful; they are children in knowledge, who are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, and are deceived with good words and fair speeches, Ephesians 4:14, Romans 16:18. This truly describes the followers of the man of sin; who give heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; who believe as the church believes; that believe with an implicit faith; believe every word and doctrine the pope and councils say they should, though ever so absurd; as, for instance, the doctrine of transubstantiation: these are "simple" or fools with a witness, who give up their understandings, and even their senses unto, and pin their faith upon, another;
but the prudent man looketh well to his going; or "its going" (o); to the course and tendency of the word he hears, or the doctrine which is proposed to his faith; he considers well whether it is agreeable or is contrary to the perfections of God; whether it derogates from the glory of any of the divine Persons; whether it makes for the magnifying the riches of God's grace, and for the debasing of men; or for the depreciating of the one, and setting up of the other; and whether it is a doctrine according to godliness, or not, that tends to promote holiness of heart and life, or to indulge a loose conversation; and according to these criteria he judges and determines whether he shall believe it or not. Or, "to his going"; that is, to the going of the deceiver and impostor; he observes narrowly the methods he takes, the artifices he makes use of, the cunning sleight by which he lies in wait to deceive; how craftily he walks, and handles the word of God deceitfully; and he takes notice of his moral walk and conversation, and, as our Lord says, "ye shall know them by their fruits", Matthew 7:16. Or else the meaning is, and which seems to be the sense of our version, that he looks well unto, and carefully observes, his own goings; he takes heed to his ways, that they are right; that he is not in ways of his devising and choosing, but in God's ways; in the way of life and salvation by Christ; in the path of faith on him, and in the way of holiness; that he has chosen the way of truth, and walks in that; and that every step he takes in doctrine is according to the word of truth; and that whatever he does in worship is agreeably to the divine rule; and that every path of duty he treads in is according to the same, and as he has Christ for a pattern, and the Spirit for a guide; and that his walk is as becomes the Gospel, worthy of the calling wherein he is called, and that it is circumspect and wise; and such a man may be truly said to be a "prudent" man: the Targum is,
"he attends to his good;''
and so he does.The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 15. - The simple believeth every word. "Simple" (pethi), the credulous person, open to all influences (Proverbs 1:22). The Vulgate has innocens, and the Septuagint ἄκακος; but the word is best taken in an unfavourable sense. The credulous fool believes all that he hears without proof or examination; having no fixed principles of his own, he is at the mercy of any adviser, and is easily led astray. Ecclus. 19:4, "He that is hasty to give credit is light minded, and he that sinneth (thus) shall offend against his own soul." It is often remarked how credulous are unbelievers in supernaturalism. They who refuse to credit the most assured facts of Christ's history will pin their faith on some philosophical theory or insufficiently supported opinion, and will bluster and contend in maintenance of a notion today which tomorrow will prove untenable and absurd. Many who despise the miraculous teaching of the Bible accept the follies and frauds of spiritualism (comp. John 5:43). Hesiod, Ἔργ, 372 -
Πίστεις δ ἄρ τοι ὁμῶς καὶ ἀπιστίαι ὤλεσαν
"Belief and unbelief alike are fatal." Cato, 'Dist.,' 2:20 -
"Noli tu quaedam referenti credere semper;
Exigua his tribuenda fides qui multa loquuntur.' The prudent man looketh well to his going (ver. 8); Vulgate, Astutus considerat gressus suos. The prudent man considers whither the advice given will lead him, always acts with deliberation. This maxim is attributed to Pythagoras -
"Let none persuade thee by his word or deed
To say or do what is not really good;
And before action well deliberate,
Lest thou do foolishly."
(Crus. Eph, 25, sqq.) Septuagint, "The clever man (πανοῦργις) cometh unto repentance [or, 'afterthought'] (μετάνοιαν);" i.e. if he, like the simpleton, is too credulous, he will smart for it. Μετάνοια, so common in the New Testament, is not found elsewhere in the Greek Version of the canonical Scriptures, though it occurs in Ecclus. 44:16; Wisd. 11:23, etc. The Vulgate here introduces the Septuagint addition in Proverbs 13:13.
But between upright men there is good understanding
We may not give to the Hiph. הליץ any meaning which it nowhere has, as, to excuse (Kimchi), or to come to an agreement by mediation (Schultens). So we may not make אוילים the subject (Targ., Symmachus, Jerome, Luther, "fools make sport with sin"), for one is persuaded that אוילים is equivalent to כל אחר מן האוילים (Immanuel, Meri, and others), which would be more admissible if we had מליץ (vid., Proverbs 3:35), or if יליץ did not immediately follow (vid., Proverbs 28:1). Aquila and Theodotion rightly interpret the relation of the component parts of the sentence: ἄφρονας χλευάζει πλημμέλια; and this translation of אשׁם also is correct is we take πλημμέλεια in the sense of a θυσία περὶ πλημμελείας (Sir. 7:31), in which the Judaeo-Hellenic actually uses it (vid., Schleusner's Lex.). The idea of sacrificial offering is that of expiation: it is a penitential work, it falls under the prevailing point of view of an ecclesiastical punishment, a satisfactio in a church-disciplinary sense; the forgiveness of sins is conditioned by this, (1) that the sinner either abundantly makes good by restitution the injury inflicted on another, or in some other way bears temporal punishment for it, and (2) that he willingly presents the sacrifices of rams or of sheep, the value of which the priest has to determine in its relation to the offence (by a tax-scale from 2 shekels upwards). The Tor gives accurately the offences which are thus to be atoned for. Here, with reference to 9b, there particularly comes into view the offence against property (Leviticus 5:20ff.) and against female honour (Leviticus 19:20-22). Fools fall from one offence into another, which they have to atone for by the presentation of sacrificial offerings; the sacrificial offering mocketh them (הליץ with accus.-object, as Proverbs 19:28; Psalm 119:51), for it equally derides them on account of the self-inflicted loss, and on account of the efforts with which they must make good the effects of their frivolity and madness; while on the contrary, among men of upright character, רצון, a relation of mutual favour, prevails, which does not permit that the one give to the other an indemnity, and apply the Asham- [אשׁם equals trespass-offering] Tor. Symmachus rightly: καὶ ἀνάμεσον εὐθέων εὐδοκία. But the lxx confuses this proverb also. Hitzig, with the Syr., follows it and translates:
The tents of the foolish are in punishment overthrown [verfllt];
The house of the upright is well-pleasing [wolgefllt].
Is not this extravagant [ungereimt equals not rhymed] in spite of the rhyme? These אהלי [tents] extracted from אוילים, and this בית [house] formed out of בין, are nothing but an aimless and tasteless flourish.
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