Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hastens with his feet sins.
Other translations of this verse are, "It is not good for the soul to be without caution, for he that hasteth with his feet sinneth"; or "Quickness of action, without prudence of spirit, is not good, for he that hasteth with his feet sinneth"; or "Fervent zeal without prudence is not good," etc.; or "Ignorance of one's self is not good," etc. There does not appear the least necessity for any alteration of the received version.
I. THAT IGNORANCE IS NOT GOOD FOR THE SOUL. "The soul without knowledge is not good." This will appear if we consider three things.
1. That an ignorant soul is exceedingly confined. The mind cannot range beyond what it knows. The more limited its information, the narrower is the scene of its activities. The man of enlarged scientific information has a range over vast continents, whereas the ignorant man is confined within the cell of his senses. Our souls get scope by exploring the unknown. "Knowledge," says Shakespeare, "is the wing on which we fly to heaven."
2. That an ignorant soul is exceedingly benighted. The contracted sphere in which it lives is only lighted with the rushlight of a few crude thoughts. Knowledge is light. The accession of every true idea is a planting of a new star in the mental heavens. The more knowledge, the brighter will sparkle the sky of your being.
3. That an ignorant soul is exceedingly feeble. Exercise and food are as essential to the power of the mind as they are to the power of the body. Knowledge is at once the incentive to exercise it and the aliment to strengthen. "Ignorance," says Johnson, "is mere privation by which nothing can be produced; it is a vacuity in which the soul sits motionless and torpid for want of attraction. And, without knowing why, we always rejoice when we learn, and grieve when we forget." Truly the soul without knowledge is not good. Of what good are limbs without the power of exercise; what good are eyes without light?
II. IGNORANCE IS PERILOUS TO THE SOUL. Ignorance is more than a negative evil, it is a positive curse. The text teaches that ignorance —
1. Exposes to sinful haste. "He that hasteth with his feet sinneth." Men without knowledge are ever in danger of acting incautiously, acting with a reckless haste. As a rule the more ignorant a man is the more hasty he is in his conclusions and steps of conduct. The less informed the mind is the more rapid and reckless in its generalisation. Impulse, not intelligence, is the helmsman of the ignorant soul.
2. It exposes to a perversity of conduct. The foolishness of man perverteth his way. What is foolishness but ignorance? Ignorant men are terribly liable to perversity of conduct in every relation of life, and especially in relation to the great God. The murderers of Christ were ignorant. Paul says, had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
3. It exposes to impiety of feeling. Ignorant men are ever disposed to find fault with God. Ignorance is peevish. It is always fretting. Learn that a nation of ignorant souls is not only a nation of worthless men, but a nation liable to the commission of terrible mistakes and crimes. Men should get knowledge for the sake of becoming useful.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.