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]

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