Proverb for the Day 8:4-5 — Listen Up, Boys!

To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding.

Wisdom and understanding are depicted as ladies in the street calling out to those passing by (:2-3), apparently with a particular focus on “men” (:4-5). While the image may seem inappropriate, the reality is that Lady Wisdom and Lady Understanding are out in public, accessible and available to anyone who is interested in their assistance.

While it may be true that us guys need a lot more help than girls do (!), the reason it reads this way is because this section of Proverbs is a series of messages from father to son – guy talk – thus these two character qualities are personified as ladies.

Specifically, these two ladies call out to the “simple” (see 1:4) and “foolish” (see 1:7), two of the most frequently mentioned characters in Proverbs. These are not mentally deficient guys, just naïve about the ways of God. In East Baltimore, we would say they don’t have a lot of “street smarts” – about spiritual things.

These verses indicate that both ladies offer what they have and what they know best to those who would seem to need it the most. To the simple is “prudence” (a synonym of “wisdom”) and to the fool is “understanding.” And that all just translates into good old “spiritual street smarts!”

Forest Gump’s momma said, “Stupid is as stupid does!” But it doesn’t have to stay that way!