And I saw among the naive, and discerned among the youths, a young man lacking sense
The whole of the book of Proverbs is written to be a training manual for people just like the one that Solomon sees out of his window.
Remember that Solomon lives in the home that has the highest vantage point in the town other than God’s Temple. He, like David his father before him, can watch the activities of the town going on below him.
Solomon spots a young man going toward a home that he has no business approaching. He knows that this young man is not sophisticated enough to really understand what he is doing; he is just following a lustful impulse. He is following through on a glance or word or brief encounter in the market earlier. He believes that a beautiful woman wants him, and he is about to be gripped by lust and crushed for his naiveté.
Solomon cannot rush out of his palace and save this young man, but he can write down exactly why this happened and the insights that will be needed for other young men not to take the path that this young man has taken.
It is for the naive, the young, the person who can’t see how what they are doing right now affects the whole of their future.
naive: This is the Hebrew word pethi which means simple, open-minded, naive. It is interesting that this word which means lacking experience; lacking knowledge has a meaning of open-mindedness. This person is open to too much. This person is looking for experiences and information and is not discerning enough as to what to refuse to be exposed to.
In our culture we keep pleading with people to be open-minded. That is good up to a point, but there are a whole lot of things that we should not be open-minded about. We should be closed toward sin; not open-minded. We should be closed toward violence and dishonesty. We should be closed to blasphemy and demonic spiritual power. And yet in our day and age, these are just the things that our society is saying we should be open-minded about. The naive youth are being sucked into the vortex of these experiences and many will never recover from the exposure. Their whole lives will be changed and the direction of their lives will be altered.
As you are growing up you do not want to understand sin and perversion by experience. Listen to Solomon and do not go outside the Ten Commandments to try and get smarter; you will be warped and twisted by the experience. The future that you had as your potential will forever be changed by your embrace of iniquity and wickedness. It is not harmless.
It is like Solomon is screaming out of his window: “STOP DON’T MESS UP YOUR LIFE”! It may seem like those who break all the rules in high school are having all the fun but watch their lives for a longer time and you will see that they are paying a heavy price for their education in sin.
youths: This is the Hebrew word ben which means sons. It seems in this context to mean someone who is not completely out from under his parents’ shadow. He may be past the age of 13 and be a son of the Law; but he is not really independent, married, and existing as a separate family unit. He is in that period where many want to experiment with life. This is what we call the teen years, and now it extends through the mid-twenties. The person doesn’t yet have all the responsibilities of a full-blown adult even though they want all the respect of an adult.
It is during this period that a young man or young woman can make choices that can destroy their life. Often those choices involve romantic relationships. Young girls can give too much to a man who is not committed and get pregnant. Young men can be ensnared by sexually experienced or emotionally needy women. It is a period of time that parents need to prepare for much earlier as the child is growing up. Help them understand what not to be open to. Help them realize that there are temptations that will seem like a great deal – like everything they have ever wanted – but will destroy them if they give in.
lacking sense: This is the Hebrew word leb which means heart. It is translated sense but the word is the word for heart or soul. Solomon is saying that this young man is becoming an animal with no soul. He is just becoming a stimulus-response animal. There is no contemplation of the future. There is no realization of judgment day. There are no evaluations of the consequences. There is just a desire to fulfill a physical want. When you just do what the flesh impulses – whether that is sex, drink, food, hatred, bitterness, coarse laughter and jokes, violence, etc. – then you become more animal than man and you lose your soul. You just begin going through life waiting to be stimulated by the next impulse. You allow that to stimulate you until you are satisfied. But you give little or no thought to the meaning of life; your contribution to society; your reason for existence; a higher calling beyond your own gratification.
This brings up an important point. The cultivation of a soul takes work. To build an inner life which contemplates life – meaning God and others – is a process. We come equipped with the ability to develop a deep and rich soul life; but, alas, many do not ever develop it because they are too busy chasing after the next impulse in their life. Jesus says, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his soul?”
Many people will never have a deep relationship with God or hear His gentle whisper in their spirit because they are too busy paying attention to the fleshly impulses that scream at them. Many people will never enjoy a deep and satisfying relational connection with another person – soul-to-soul contact – because they have never developed their own soul enough to connect with another.
The soul is the inner life. It is the development of what is called the soul and spirit of the person. It is the mind, will, emotions, creativity, connection to God, personality, conscience, meaning. To have an abundant life, one must have a rich inner life. Solomon points out that this young man that he is watching must have little or no inner life to just blindly go to a woman who is not his wife for physical relations just because she is pretty. He is allowing his fleshly impulses to rule his life.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.