And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
Solomon was pre-eminently a student of character. His forte lay in the direction of moral philosophy, in the sense of the philosophy of morals.
I. THE SPECIAL PERIL OF GREAT CITIES. Human nature remains the same in every age. The descriptions of the temptations that assailed the youth of Jerusalem and Tyre answers precisely to what we see in our own day. Therefore the counsels and warnings of the ancient sage are as valuable and fitting as ever. The vastness and multitudinousness of our modern cities provide a secrecy which is congenial to vice. In all great towns solicitations to vice abound as they do not elsewhere. Every passion has a tempter lying in wait for it. Whatever be your temperament or constitution, a snare will be skilfully laid to entrap you. Vice clothes itself here in its most pleasing attire, and not seldom appears even under the garb of virtue.
II. THE EVIL OF LATE HOURS. The devil, like the beast of prey, stalks forth when the sun goes down. Night is the time for unlawful amusements and mad convivialities and lascivious revelry. Now Jezebel spreads her net, and Delilah shears the locks of Samson. Young men, take it kindly when I bid you beware of late hours. Your health forbids it; your principles forbid it; your moral sense forbids it; your safety forbids it. Purity loves the light. Late hours have proved many young man's ruin.
III. THE DANGER OF FOOLISH COMPANY. "Simple" in the Book of Proverbs means silly, frivolous, idle, abandoned. You could almost predict with certainty the future of one who selected such society. The ruin of most young men is due to bad company. It is commonly the finest natures that are first pounced upon. The good-hearted, amiable fellow, with open countenance and warm heart and generous disposition, is at once seized by the vermin of the pit, and poisoned with every kind of pollution. Take care with whom you associate. There are men who will fawn upon you, and flatter you, and call you good company, and patronise you wonderfully, and take you anywhere you wish to go; and — allow you to pay all expenses. As a rule, a companion of loose character is the most mean and selfish of creatures. "Void of understanding." Understanding is more than wisdom, more than knowledge; it is both and something besides. It is a mind well-balanced by the grace of God; it is the highest form of common-sense, sanctified by a genuine piety. No man's understanding can be called thoroughly sound until it has been brought under the power of the truth as it is in Jesus. Your only security against the perils of the city, of the dark night, and of evil company, your only safety amid the lusts that attack the flesh, and the scepticisms that assail the mind, is a living faith in God, a spiritual union with Christ.
(J. Thain Davidson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,