For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
To hearken means not only to hear, but to hear with attention, so as to follow the advice given (James 1:25); or, as the Saviour says (John 10:27). Such hear, not to forget, but to treasure up in their memories, that they may reduce to practice what they hear: such hear, not to cavil and find fault, but that they may profit by the instruction they receive. Now, this attention is assuredly the work of the Spirit on the heart, as we read of Lydia (Acts 16:14). And hence it behoves all, when hearing God's Word, to lift up their hearts to Him, that it may be with profit to their souls. And what are the promises made to such hearers? Safe dwelling and quietness from fear of evil. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, operating on the heart, brings solid and lasting peace. The first of these promises is beautifully illustrated by our blessed Lord Himself at the close of His sermon on the mount (Matthew 7:24-27). The man who hears Christian instruction , and who satisfies himself with listening and approving, but goes no further, never casts away his sins, or really lays hold on Christ, may flatter himself that all is right with his soul, because he has feelings and convictions and desires of a spiritual nature; but such a man's religion will break down entirely under the first flood of tribulation, and fail him completely when his need is the sorest, whereas the man who hears Christian instruction, and practises what he hears, upon such a man the floods of sickness, sorrow, poverty, disappointments, bereavements may beat, but his soul is unmoved, his faith does not give way, his comforts do not forsake him. Not only, however, is safety promised to him who hearkeneth to the voice of heavenly wisdom, but such an assurance of it as shall remove every distressing fear. Not only quietness from evil, but from the fear of it. Men in general suffer much more from fear of evils which they expect may come upon them than from those which they actually have to undergo; but God "keeps him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him." A wicked man is terrified with imagined danger; a godly man is not afraid even when the danger is real; for the one has a witness for him in his own breast, whereas the other carries within a witness against himself; and this witness is a judge to condemn him, yea, an executioner to torment and vex him. To be freed from the fear of evil is, in truth, the perfection of a spiritual state; and a great part of the saint's portion both on earth and in heaven lies in the deliverance and security from it. But it may be asked, To whom are these gracious promises made? They are made to all: high and low, rich and poor, old and young. The term used is as large as any can desire: "Whoso hearkeneth." Let them only listen to Christ's invitation in the gospel, and render obedience to His commands, and the promised blessings shall be vouchsafed to them.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.