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"How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?" (Pro 1:22)
Before delving into the substance of wisdom's cry, notice first of all that God here instructs men by questioning
. This is the first question that appears in the book of Proverbs, and, interestingly, it is a rhetorical question in which a statement is implied in the question. Teaching by asking questions that are formulated in such a way to prompt the recipient to come to the intended understanding of the truth without it being expressly declared to him is known as the Socratic Method, named after the Greek philosopher Socrates who is known for teaching in such manner. In truth, it should be called the Divine Method since God was teaching by this means long before Socrates was a twinkle in his father's eye. The Lord began this technique of teaching in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned when He asked them the following soul-searching questions.
Gen 3:9 - And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
Gen 3:11 - And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
Gen 3:13 - And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done?...
These were the first questions God ever uttered in the history of the universe, and they were asked for the same purpose that God asked them to men in Proverbs chapter one: to expose their sin, cause them to acknowledge it, and bring them to repentance.
These searching questions asked by wisdom
were pronounced in the chief place of concourse
(Pro 1:21) which denotes that the majority of people fall under this censure. Simplicity, scorning, and hatred of truth are not isolated, but rather, are systemic problems in the human race. Born into every child who enters the world is a nature inherent with foolishness
which "is bound in the heart of a child" (Pro 22:15). For those who are not chosen of God, wisdom's words remain foolishness
, but to those who are saved, they are the power of God, for "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1Co 1:18). Wisdom's cry of repentance is aimed at, and will only be heeded by, her children.
This question implies that this deplorable condition has been ongoing for a long time. It also alleges that it has been going on for too long
. Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God (1Co 1:24), had to ask His disciples a similar question: "how long
shall I suffer you?" (Mat 17:17). Thankfully, the Lord "is longsuffering
to us-ward" (2Pe 3:9).
How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?
This rhetorical question reveals that simple ones love
simplicity and suggests that they should not. Simple
is "deficient in knowledge or learning; characterized by a certain lack of acuteness or quick apprehension" (OED). Simplicity
is "want of acuteness or sagacity; lack of ordinary knowledge or judgement; ignorance; rusticity" (OED). Ignorance is not a virtue but a vice. Those who are more simple and ignorant than they should be, given the mind that God dealt to them, should not be proud of it, but rather ashamed. Most religions require the brain to be checked at the door, but Christianity, which is a religion of knowledge
, is not one of them. Every Christian should be ever growing in the knowledge of God throughout his life and should never be content to remain stagnant.
Pro 8:10 - Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
Scorners delight in their scorning.
Pro 18:15 - The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
2Pe 1:5 - And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
2Pe 3:18 - But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
The questioning continues in like manner giving the implication that scorners do indeed delight in their scorning, which thing ought not so to be. A scorner
is "one who scorns, derides, mocks or contemns; esp. one who scoffs at religion" (OED). To scorn
is to "to speak or behave contemptuously; to use derisive language, jeer" (OED). Unregenerate sinners love their sin which is why they will not believe and obey the gospel. Jesus, the light of the world, came in the flesh and preached to them and "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (Joh 3:19). When He told them the truth, "they laughed him to scorn" (Mat 9:24); and later they crucified Him fulfilling the prophecy that was written of Him:
Psa 22:7 - All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
Psa 22:8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Scorners are not in good company and therefore better heed wisdom's call to cease delighting in their scorning before they meet the fate of their fellows.
Fools hate knowledge.
A foolish scorner hates to be reproved which is why he "will [not] go unto the wise" (Pro 15:12). If fools don't want to be dead fools, they must stop hating knowledge and start embracing it, for the wages of ignorance is destruction, as the Lord declared, "my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hos 4:6). Knowledge would preserve the fool (Pro 2:10-11) and deliver him (Pro 11:9), but he is too stupid (Pro 12:1) to recognize it and instead bites the proverbial hand that feeds him.
Despite the simple's love of simplicity, the scorner's delight in scorning, and the fool's hatred of knowledge, wisdom nevertheless cries unto them to repent which brings us to the next verse.