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Blog - Proverbs 1:32

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Proverbs 1:32

"For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them." (Pro 1:32)


The turning away of the simple shall slay them. Wisdom had cried to the simple exhorting them to "turn you at my reproof" (Pro 1:23), but instead of heeding one of God's perennial commands to "turn away your faces from all your abominations" (Eze 14:6), they instead "turn[ed] away their ears from the truth," as would their spiritual posterity in the latter times unto their own destruction (2Ti 4:4). The keeping of God's commandments adds years to a man's life (Pro 3:1-2); whereas turning away from them shortens it, as Solomon later wrote, "the fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened" (Pro 10:27). The LORD warned Israel that turning away their heart from Him would indeed slay them, and therefore admonished them to choose life.

Deu 30:17 - But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
Deu 30:18 - I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
Deu 30:19 - I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

King Amaziah learned this lesson the hard way.

2Ch 25:27 - Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the LORD they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish: but they sent to Lachish after him, and slew him there.

Christians face the same fate when they turn away from God who speaks from heaven through the scripture.

Heb 12:25 - See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

Too many parents can attest to the truth of God's pronouncement that the turning away of the simple shall slay them, having mourned over children who would none of wisdom's reproof and turned away from the LORD, only to be slain by drugs, alcohol, gang violence, or suicide. While fools turn away from God, inviting His wrath, contrarily, "wise men turn away wrath" (Pro 29:8) by repenting at wisdom's reproof. Those who desire to escape the condemnation of the simple, who turn away from wisdom's cry, will be guaranteed success if they adopt Job's attitude toward the word of God: "neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12).

The prosperity of fools shall destroy them. Prosperity is "the condition of being prosperous, successful, or thriving; good fortune, success, well-being" (OED). Prosperity in itself is not necessarily sinful or harmful. It is true that the wicked are often prosperous (Psa 73:3-5), but God also gives prosperity and success to the righteous who meditate in His word (Jos 1:8) and to those who humbly seek wisdom, as did Solomon (1Ki 10:7). Though prosperity can be a blessing, it will try the righteous at least as much as poverty, if not more so.

Pro 30:8 - Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
Pro 30:9 - Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

It takes a very wise and strong man to be able to handle wealth and success: "strong men retain riches" (Pro 11:16). Excessive wealth is often too much for a lesser man to handle without blowing it like a drunken sailor or allowing it to make him puffed up with pride. Most men can identify with the Psalmist at one point or another in their lives when he said, "in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved" (Psa 30:6). Being made proud by wealth is a bigger failure than being made poor by it. For the average dolt, winning the lottery or receiving a large inheritance is a curse rather than a blessing. Stories abound of fools winning millions of dollars in the lottery, only to end up more broke in a few years than they were before they bought the ticket.

Pro 20:21 - An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.

Pro 13:11 - Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

Most men will respond to this assertion with denial, thinking that such would not be the case with them; they would know how to manage money and hold on to it: it would not change them, they surmise. Let such a man ask himself these questions.

Do I spend more when I make more?

Do I save money no matter what my income?

Do I save more now than I did five, ten, or twenty years ago when I made less, or do I save the same now as I did then and spend the extra?

When I get a raise, do I save the extra after giving the LORD His share, or do I adjust my standard of living to meet my new higher salary?

Has my standard of living risen proportionally to my income over time?

A man's answers to these questions will be a good indicator of whether or not prosperity would destroy him and whether winning the lottery or inheriting a large sum of money would be a curse to him. If a man spends more when he makes more, saves the same now as he did years ago when he made far less, and adjusts his standard of living to match his salary as it increases; he can assume with reasonable certainty that, because he spends every extra dime he makes, a significant increase in wealth and prosperity would be of no real benefit to him and would likely be a curse that would destroy him. Such a man should thank God for not materially prospering him, because for God to do so would be his destruction.


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For the previous blog in this series, click here: Proverbs 1:31.
For the next blog in this series, click here: Proverbs 1:33.

For all the blogs in this series, click here: Proverbs Commentary.