Proverbs & Parables
in the New Testament
study 2 -
'the simple ones'
As we underlined in our first study, the principles in the Book of Proverbs are not something new in the Scriptures. Rather, their earlier appearance is brought to a focus in this wonderful book. This helps us to understand its true significance.
We gave an example of an early parable in 2nd Samuel 12v1-14. We also underlined that "the inception" of this book "lies in the beginning, at Creation"*. We also drew attention to "the seven stages of the purpose of Almighty God to fill the earth with His glory", which is "epitomized in the 7-fold divisions of the Old and the New Testaments" - link to 'The Structure of the Bible'. It is significant that 'Proverbs' is in the 6th section of the Old Testament, which refers to enlightenment and sacrificial witness to the Truth.
*and this is supported by ch.8v12,23 - "I wisdom...was set up from everlasting, from the beginning…".
The most important aspect of this study which we must cement into our minds is the aspect of "my son". The constant appeal of Deity, shown as our Heavenly Father, full of compassion for His children, is to His sons and daughters. For instance, the early sections outlined page 1 concerning doctrine & practice from ch.1v8 to ch.9v1 are marked by an appeal to "my son" - a change in emphasis from doctrine to practice being the only slight alteration - ch.4v1 addressed to "ye children", a generic term which allows us to step back as it were and consider if we, individually, are the sons and daughters of the living God.
This appeal is stark, and allows for no hesitation in our response#. It has both positive and negative components. As we emphasized in page 1, Proverbs is the story of two women, Wisdom and Folly (also known as the "strange woman" etc). Wisdom is a personification of the Truth, by which God begets us as His children* cp ch.6v20 where it is termed our "mother". In another way, Wisdom becomes our "sister" and our "kinswoman", ch.7v4. And yet again, Wisdom is "the wife of thy youth", ch.5v18. These ways of varied pictorial personification may seem unusual at first, but as we become gradually more familiar with Bible teaching, we learn to accept it as normal and highly beneficial. #ch.6v3,5 *1st Peter 1v3,23
The focus of this teaching is the absolute necessity of making Wisdom our own - for example: "Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; there- fore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee" - ch.4v5-9.
The value of identification with the ways of Wisdom is "to keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman" - ch.6v24. Refer to page 1 & below for more re this theme.
Israel was the national "son" of God, cp Exodus 4v22 - "Israel is my son, even my firstborn". Each true Israelite should also have regarded themselves as the son or daughter of God. Compare also the composite and individual picture of the Bride of Christ as depicted in such passages as: Psalm 45v9-17; Ephesians 5v22-33; 2nd Corinthians 6v17,18.
God's law instructed His national son; and faithful Israelites, in conformity with this, were commanded to instruct their own children, and to follow the faithful example of Abraham, Deut.6v6,7; Gen. 18v19. Sadly, the record of the Bible and history is that Israel (except for the few) did not prove faithful to this trust. They rebelled continuously, and God sent His prophets and later His Son and apostles to warn them and to try to lead them back to Him. In page 1 we quoted from Matthew 13, where in verse 13 the Lord quotes from Psalm 78v2 - "Therefore speak I to them in parables". Once again we read of the obligation to teach God's "testimony" and "law" to their children (v1-6) - for what purpose? "That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God" (v7,8).
It is significant that Psalm 78 is one of 13 "maschil psalms", which were used for public instruction. The number 13 signifies rebellion - cp Genesis 14v4. We must individually stand apart from this. Our present study is focalized in Proverbs 1v22 - "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?" Here we have laid out the process of declension from the Faith. Being "simple" leads to "scorning", and the end-result of "scorning" is to become "fools". This becomes plain in the book of Proverbs.
The first "simple one" recorded who was open to a lie was Eve. The first "scorner" which mocked at the words of God was the serpent. The first "fool" who rejected instruction was Cain. The stark decline shown in these examples must be reversed in all those who aspire to immortality. A process of mental, moral and physical decline must be reversed in the same order. It is a three-fold process, the number three in the Bible being the first number of completion. In Ecclesiastes 4v12 we read - "and a threefold cord is not quickly broken".
The assistance rendered by the Lord and all true "sons" to sufferers from apostacy will be covered in our 4th study, where we consider the heart-warming parable of 'The Good Samaritan'.
Let us notice here the differences between "Wisdom" and "Folly". "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the opening of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words" - ch.1v20,21. This is "maschil" instruction, the gracious invitation of the Father to His rebellious sons and daughters.
Contrast this with the subtilty of Folly, "which flattereth with her words...in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night...a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart", ch.2v16; 7v9,10. See Ephesians 6-17. She is a "strange woman..which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God" yet she "flattereth with her words" - ch.2v16,17 cp ch.5v3;7v21. She is really the "stranger" in Deut. 17v15 - "thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother". The same Hebrew word is translated "stranger" in Proverbs 2v16. A ploy of the "strange woman" is shown in ch.5v6 - "Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them".
The "harlot" is representative of the Roman "mother of harlots", Revelation 17v15, which operates under Roman time, with four watches (as above) recorded in Mark 13v35 - link here to 'apocalypse'.
(see more on this theme in the last few paragraphs on this page)
We can see clearly that Folly is a personification of all that is evil and against the Truth. She masquerades to human view as something desirable, a false representation of Wisdom. Compare "the devil", which is a personification of sin as embodied in "sinful flesh" see 'devil' - and "the satan", a personification of those who falsely claim to represent the Truth see 'satan'.
Consider also ch.24v21 - "meddle not with them that are given to change". The Truth is unchangeable, as is God Himself..."For I am Yahweh, I change not" - Malachi 3v6. When the words of Scripture and the Pioneer brothers are twisted to give different meanings, let us beware and extricate ourselves from compromising and apostate situations before we ourselves are lost in the destruction of the wicked.
If anyone reading this has been deceived and misled by Folly, represented by a multiplicity of false religions, let them hear the words of Wisdom: "Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house". "Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself...Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler" - ch. 5v7,8; 6v3-5. There is no time to waste or it will be too late.
Returning to the substratum of this study in Proverbs 1v22: "simple..scorner..fool".
This study concerns the "simple ones", and it is vital to comprehend and to fully appreciate what is being taught by the use of this phrase. At the outset we must realize that it has no reference to a lack of natural intelligence, but it refers to a lack of intelligence in the things of God. It carries the meaning of those who lack moral direction. The question asked in Proverbs 1v22 - "How long, ye simple* ones, will ye love simplicity*?" demonstrates that we are dealing with those who are self-satisfied, i.e. those who are really in love with their own ignorance...cp 2nd Peter 3v5 - "they willingly are ignorant"...yet in a tragic irony, their minds are open to error but closed to the instruction of Deity.
*the Hebrew for 'simple' and 'simplicity' (above) is from a root word sig. 'to be open' i.e. 'deluded'.
"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them" - Matthew 13v15.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" -
Consider the Apostle Paul's words in Ephesians 4v14 concerning those who are open to false teaching: "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive". The words in italics are quotes from Proverbs 7v24 ("children") & v12 & ch.23v28 ("lie in wait"). And ch.7v13-21 are concisely summarized (as shown above) - "to deceive".
The picture is graphic and horrible. It shows those who are unwary, who are open to false doctrine, as exemplified by "a young man void of understanding" who "went the way to (Folly's) house" - v7,8...and the chapter leads us to the inevitable outcome - capitulation to error and ultimate destruction.
The words and import of ch.7v7, 10 & 21 are taken up by the Apostle Paul in Romans 16v18,19 - "among the simple ones" the "harlot...with her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him...they by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple...but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil". The two Greek words both translated above as 'simple' could be literally translated as (v18) 'unsuspecting' and (v19) as 'unmixed'. The very important distinction is self-evident.
"Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death" - Proverbs 7v24-27. Do not place confidence in so-called "leaders" ("many strong men") who often fail. "Be not many masters (Grk. sig. "instructors", "teachers") for false teaching will bring "greater condemnation" - James 3v1...as "an instructor (same Grk. as above) of the foolish" Romans 2v20. This is a quotation from Proverbs 9v6 - "Forsake the foolish, and live..go in the way of understanding". Wisdom will give "a crown of glory", Folly can only offer "death" - ch.4v9;2v18.
There is hope for the "simple ones", but not if they continue to "love simplicity" (see above). Our Heavenly Father appeals to them to retrace their steps, & to return to Him and the Wisdom which is in His word of truth.
"The law of Yahweh* is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of Yahweh* is sure, making wise the simple" - Psalm 19v7.
(* 'Yahweh' is the Memorial Name of God - see page 1 for further comments)
"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" - Psalm 119v130.
So that we may avoid their fate, let us examine the characteristics of the "simple ones" -
"The simple believeth every word" - they are gullible. NOTE THE CONTRAST "but the prudent man looketh well to his going" - ch.14v15...also see 1st John 4v1-6; Revelation 2v1-3.
"the simple pass on, and are punished" - they are unheeding. NOTE THE CONTRAST "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself" - Proverbs 22v3;27v12.
The ultimate end of the "simple ones" is set out clearly. We have seen (above) they are "punished".
"The simple inherit folly" - and again NOTE THE CONTRAST "but the prudent are crowned with knowledge" - ch.14v18.
"the turning away of the simple shall slay them" - AND NOTE THE ULTIMATE CONTRAST "but whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely" - ch.1v32,33.
We now wish to look at the way in which the Lord quotes from Proverbs, in what is arguably the most important section of this whole subject. It is so important because it involves our life. Yes, the eternal destiny of everyone who reads this page is dependent upon the principles now outlined.
(these comments follow on from the references made above to "Folly" and "strange woman")
The four chapters to be considered are Proverbs 7, Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. The stark reality of these chapters is not appreciated by the vast majority of Bible readers, whatever their present beliefs may be, and sadly this includes almost all Christadelphians.
The setting of this horrible scene is recorded for us in Proverbs 7v9 and Mark 13v35 - to clearly show the correlation between these two quotations, see the following comparisons:
"black" "dark night"
Rome divided the night (her time of operations in the darkness of Gentile times, cp Isaiah 60v2 - "For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people" and Daniel 7v13 - "I saw in the night visions") into four equal watches of three hours each as shown above. On the other hand the Jewish watches were three, each of four hours - cp Luke 12v37,38; Judges 7v19.
We learn from 'signs' - the 5th - 'the calming of the storm' that the return of the Lord will come "in the fourth watch of the (Roman) night" - Matthew 14v25. And let us be encouraged by the words of John in his 1st epistle ch.2v8RV - "the darkness is passing away". If "the true light" "shineth" in our hearts, we (like the disciples) will be delivered in that glad Day soon to dawn.
And if we are "the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness" we will "not sleep, as do others" (see below) but will "watch and be sober" - 2nd Thessalonians 5v5,6. And moreover we will "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but (will) rather reprove them" and "(will) be not partakers with them"…"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise" - Ephesians 5v7-17.
We live in days just prior to the return of Jesus Christ, and He shall as "the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his beams" - Malachi 4v2. He will "discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not" - Malachi 3v18.
This is the seventh epoch of prophetic time, the last epoch of the dark night of the Gentiles. In days such as these, the earth (including the ecclesial body) is full of "simple ones", i.e. as we have seen, those who are in love with their own ignorance. In His message to Laodicea, the last of the ecclesias to be addressed in the Apocalypse, the Lord states - "thou knowest not" (the desperate state into which they had fallen). Cp Proverbs 7v22,23 - "he (i.e. the "simple one") knoweth not that it is for his life"…Matthew 24v44 - "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh". Yes, it is the end of a process...and it must be stopped right at the beginning. "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" - Psalm 119v130.
Returning to the links between Proverbs 7 and the Gospel records as set forth above. We have seen that the four watches identify the setting with Rome. Note the words of Proverbs 7v19 - "For the Goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey". Compare this with: "for the Son of man (who is also "the master of the house"*) is as a man taking a far journey" who "left his house, and gave authority to his servants...and commanded the porter to watch...for ye know not when the master of the house cometh" - Mark 13v34,35. The delegated "goodman of the house" is ignorant concerning "what watch the thief would come" (see the Roman time-chart above) which results in "his house (being) broken up" - Matthew 24v42-44. We see also that the "harlot" of Proverbs 7 desires spiritual harlotry "until the morning" - i.e. the final night watch of Rome, when the Lord (see above) has shown that He will return.
In Matthew 24v42-51 there is the prophecy of the "faithful and wise servant" who provides "meat" in due season - but who later begins "to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken". We hope to have more to say on this in studies 3 & 4 & cp 'messages' - p. 3 - note especially the ecclesial history which is recorded under 'Philadelphia'.
The process by which the "strange woman"/"harlot"* migrated, and has now been established as the apostacy centred in Rome is traced out in 'departure' - pages 1 & 2. This apostacy is termed "THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH"-Rev.17v5.
*the apostacy revealed in Judah and Israel was supported by "two women..who committed whoredoms" - & it is shown as migrating into "the land of Shinar" - Jeremiah 3, Ezekiel 23, Zechariah 5. 'Shinar' was the location of ancient Babel, the progenitor of Babylon, destined to produce "BABYLON THE GREAT" - Gen.11v1-9; Rev.17v5. 'Shinar' signifies "the tooth of the enemy", which has clear reference to the 4th (Roman) beast of Daniel 7v7-28, & the apostacy which arose from it which would" speak great words against the most High" - v25, cp above link - "it devoured and brake in pieces" physically and spiritually, but its end is sure - see v7 & 11.
The women "had wings like the wings of a stork",an unclean bird under the law,& migratory, (cp satan Job 1v7) - the Hebrew word 'chaciydah' signifies "pious" (incl. "bowing the neck"). Zech.5v7-"a talent of lead" (a poisonous metal) and"a woman that sitteth"- cp Rev.17v1,3,9,15. A coin in the British Museum shows 'ROMA' as a woman sitting on 7 hills - cp Rev.17v9. This woman "sitteth in the midst of the ephah..this is wickedness" - Zech.5v7,8 - "the mystery of iniquity doth already work#, and then shall that Wicked be revealed" - 2nd Thess. 2v7,8.
#this word signifies to work inwardly or secretly until the damage is irreversible - the harlot brought forth a spiritual child which later became the "man of sin" - link to 'departure'.
The urgency of this study is that there will be no special warning of the Master's return - for He clearly states in Matthew 24v42 - "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come". And the suddenness of events in these last days is graphic. Note the following parallels: "He goeth after her (i.e. the "harlot") straightway" - Proverbs 7v22.
"And take heed to yourselves, lest...that day come on you unawares (RV="suddenly").
"Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping" - Luke 21v34 and Mark 13v36.
"...as a bird hasteth to the snare" - Proverbs 7v23.
"For as a snare shall it come on all...the whole earth" - Luke 21v35.
We are still only "scratching the surface" of this subject. In the following six studies we hope to build upon the groundwork and the foundations which have been laid. In the meantime we welcome comments and questions from our viewers upon any aspect which has been covered.
In study 3 we examine the vitally important subject of 'scorners and fools' - see link below.