This verse reveals to us two kinds of people—the prudent and the simple. Both are headed down the same path. Both “see danger” but they react differently. And, because of this, they experiences two very different outcomes. In Proverbs, a prudent person is a wise person. Proverbs implies that a wise man or woman understands that all of life is connected. There is a cause-and-effect relationship between what he chooses today and what he experiences tomorrow. This is why wise people look as far down the road as possible when making decisions. Drawing upon the experiences of others or on their own experiences, they anticipate the future and choose wisely.
“…but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (v.12)
Suffer for what? For turning a blind eye to the obvious. The simple suffer because they live as if there is no connection between the choices of today and the experiences of tomorrow. They overlook the fact that every decision is a path and every path has a destination. Like it or not, all decisions have consequences.
There is a point at which it becomes impossible to sidestep consequences.
If you were to ask a simple person if they believe there is connection between the choices they make today and what they will experience in the future, they would say yes. Again, it’s not that they don’t believe life is connected. The point is they don’t live as if it is. Every time you talk yourself out of exercising, you talk yourself out of a preferred future. Every time you light up a cigarette, lie to your spouse, spend money you don’t have, make the wrong people your friends and companions, you act as if today is in no way connected to tomorrow. You “see danger.” Yet instead of “taking refuge”, you “keep going.” We have all heard that experience is the best teacher. But is it really? We have all said, “I’ll never do that again” about something. We knew what the outcome would be, but kept going anyway.
The primary difference between the wise and the simple is not what they see but how they respond to what they see. The wise see danger and take refuge. The simple see danger and keep going. Pay attention to what’s out ahead of you. When you see trouble coming, take refuge. Change direction. Because it is the direction of your life that will determine your destination.