The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. – Proverbs 27:12 ESV
Even if you are following the best path, obstacles are inevitable and opportunities for growth. Sometimes the wise choice is to keep climbing and pushing forward. Sometimes hardships must be endured to fulfill a certain grand purpose or goal, or just to continue on the journey.
Jesus, for example, knew that he had to suffer for a great purpose, chosing to do so freely and out of love. This time of year (Holy Week) we are reminded of that.
This Proverb is reffering to something completely different – unnecessary hardship and danger that should be avoided.
The image above was taken while I was at Great Sand Dunes National Park on an afternoon in May. Dark clouds are looming on the horizon. Being well warned by signs and brochures about the volitile Spring weather, we decided to head back to the car (even though we wanted to explore the sand dunes). We made it just in time, when a violent storm came through with lightning, large hail and sand-blasting winds. It was a good decision in the end. However, many others kept going and experienced some discomfort.
Sometimes, there is real danger ahead – which is what this Proverb is reffering to. You realize this is not a path you should be on. Wisdom allows us to recognize this and take action to change paths immediately.
The Well Traveled Paths can be the most dangerous:
The well traveled paths are often filled with such dangers. Worse, they are usually hidden to us if we rely on our own understanding (and not the Wisdom of God – the same wisdom found in Proverbs). “The Detour” from this wide path of mediocrity, is the way of wisdom that leads to abundant living.
So.. Wisdom enables us to:
- Recognize real dangers ahead (which are often hidden in the short term).
- Make the nessesary change – take the Detour to a better path and avoid the danger.
Wisdom makes all the difference:
Even the most prudent or wise aren’t perfect, better or smarter than the simple in this Proverb. The difference is their reliance on wisdom to ponder their path and recognize the real dangers ahead. Then, they also take action (very important!) and make whatever change is needed – which could be anything from changing a habit, not agreeing to an unethical business deal, moving somewhere, taking a new job or career path, ending a toxic relationship or addiction, ect..
The Simple, rely only on their own understanding and assumptions – which could be from pride, arrogance, greed, prejudice, ect. As a result, they don’t use wisdom ponder where their steps are leading them. They keep going, blind to the dangers ahead, and eventually suffer for it.
This is not to say that we should overthink things or become paranoid about hidden dangers – which is not wise. Rather, we should look beyond our own understanding and seek wisdom – which allows us to see our path as it actually is and take any needed detour. Start now.