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Bible Insights

Along Came Folly

The word “folly” occurs 23 times in Proverbs and only 16 times in the rest of the Bible. The dictionary defines folly as “a lack of good sense, understanding, or foresight; an act of foolishness; or a costly undertaking having an absurd or ruinous outcome.”

I think that is exactly what Solomon had in mind as he advised against folly.

Over half of Proverbs’ verses that include “folly,” also pair it with the word “fool.” That gives the perspective that folly is foolishness.

Also, just like the word “simple,” “folly” is often contrasted with being “prudent.” This implies that prudence is the prescription for folly.

Interestingly, in one instance, Solomon personifies “folly” as a woman who is loud, undisciplined, and without knowledge. That is a most effective metaphor, explaining why folly is to be avoided.

Of course, there are the simple who may desire a woman like Folly, but that just wouldn’t be prudent—and Solomon repeated cautions against liaisons of that nature.

[23 occurrences of folly in Proverbs]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Sometimes Simple Isn’t Better

The word “simple” is found 14 times in Proverbs and only six other times in the entire Bible. The dictionary defines a simple person as a “simpleton” or a “fool.”

However, the way “simple” is used in Proverbs seems to go beyond merely being a fool or a simpleton (that is, lacking common sense), but carries with it a lack of moral and ethical character.

Looking at these 14 occurrences reveals some reoccurring themes as someone who is foolish, who lacks understanding, judgment, knowledge, or wisdom, who is wayward, and who needs to be prudent.

In fact, half of the verses in Proverbs that mention “simple,” also mention “prudent” or “prudence,” presenting it as a contrast to the “simple” or something that the “simple” should seek.

Fortunately, being simple is not an unchangeable condition, but a trait that can—and should be—overcome. The adages contained in the book of Proverbs are a good place to start.

[Mentions of “simple” in Proverbs]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Don’t Be a Sluggard, Be Prudent

In contrast to the sluggard, is the prudent person. The word “prudent” also predominates the book of Proverbs with 10 appearances, contrasted to only two in the rest of the Bible.

“Prudent” means “wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense; careful in regard to one’s own interests or conduct.” It seems that in many ways being prudent is the opposite of—and therefore the desired alternative to—being a sluggard.

Interestingly, half of the mentions of “prudent” specifically reference the male half of the population (“prudent man”), with only one to the female side (“prudent wife”—she is a gift from God). The remaining mentions are directed to all people.

Based on this disparity in gender mentions, one might assume that being prudent is a bigger issue for men than women—but that conclusion might not be prudent.

The reality is that most everyone can improve in this area, that is, to be more prudent. Plus, it is easier (albeit shortsighted) to be a sluggard than prudent.

[Read more about prudent in the Bible.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Recurring Words from Proverbs

There are several words that appear with disproportionate frequency in the book of Proverbs—and with minimal representation in the rest of the Bible. They are:

  • Sluggard occurs 14 times in Proverbs and nowhere else in the Bible.
  • Prudent occurs 10 times in Proverbs and only twice elsewhere.
  • Simple is found 14 times in Proverbs and only six other times in the entire Bible.
  • Folly occurs 23 times in Proverbs and 16 times in the rest of the Bible.
  • Quarrelsome occurs 6 times in Proverbs and only one other time in the rest of the Bible.
  • Adulteress is mentioned 7 times in Proverbs and only 5 times elsewhere in the Bible.

Plus, there are some additional words that appear with surprising regularity in Proverbs:

  • Wisdom occurs 54 times in proverbs.
  • Path and paths are mentioned 29 times in Proverbs.

In upcoming posts, we will look at each of these words.

[The 1984 NIV version of the Bible was used in determining the number of occurrences.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.