Friday, August 11, 2017


"To give prudence to the naïve (simple ones),
To the youth knowledge and discretion."

Naïve: "marked by unaffected simplicity; artless, ingenuous, innocent, unsophisticated..."
Those are some of the words the dictionary definitions of the word.

In a sense it is what lingers that is childlike.  Luke 18:17 says, "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein."

"Dear Soul, couldst thou become a child
While yet on earth, meek. undefiled,
Then God Himself were ever near, And Paradise around thee here."
Gerhard Tersteegen

"Childlikeness, in its Scripture sense, is a perfectness of trust, a resting in a Father's love, a being borne on in its power, living in it--it means a simplicity which resolves all into the one idea of lowly submissiveness to One in whom it lives; a buoyancy of spirit, which is a fountain of joy in itself, always ready to spring forth afresh brightly and happily to meet the claims of the present hour, not looking lingeringly back to the past, nor making plans independently, as of oneself, for the future; a resting contented in one's lot, whatever that lt may be; a singleness of intention; a pliancy, a yielding of the will, a forgetfulness of self in another's claims.  To be thus childlike in the pure sense of such an ideal, is to be living in God, as one's Father, one's Preserver, one's Guide, felt to be a perpetual Presence and Providence."  T.T. Carter (selections from "Joy & Strength"

Here's an old poem that speaks of the refreshing naïve youth in a positive sense, by John Clarke (1793-1864) 

"The Dawnings of youthful Genius in a Ploughboy

Oft will he stoop, inquisitive to trace
The opening beauties of a daisy's face;
Oft will he witness, with admiring eyes, 
The brook's sweet dimples o'er the pebbles rise;
And often bent, as o'er some magic spell, 
He'll pause and pick his shaped stone and shell:
Raptures the while his inward powers inflame,
And joys delight him which he cannot name.
Thus pausing wild on all he saunters by,
He feels enraptured, though he knows not why;
And hums and mutters o'er his joys in vain,
And dwells on something which he can't explain.
The bursts of thought with which his soul's perplexed,
Are bred one moment, and are gone the next;
Yet still the heart will kindling sparks retain,
And thoughts will rise, and Fancy strive again."

I wanted to paint this picture of the naïve and youth who this verse in Proverbs instructs to give prudence and knowledge and discretion.  I find Adam Clark's understanding of it fascinating.

"To give subtilty (perception) to the simple (KJV)..  The word simple...signifies properly, plain and honest, one that has no bye ends in view; who is what he appears to be; and is opposed to complex...but because honesty and plain dealing are so are in the world, and none but the truly religious may will practice them, farther than the fear of the law obliges him, hence simple has sunk into a state of progressive deterioration. it applied to men, it signified innocent, harmless, without disguise.  As such persons were rather an unfashionable sort of people, it sunk in its meaning to homely, homespun, mean worldly men, who were seeking their portion in this life, and little to do with religion, supposed that wisdom, wit, ad understanding, were given to men that they might make the best of them in reference to the things of this life, the word sunk still lower in its meaning, and signified silly, foolish: and there to the dishonor of our language and morals, it stands!  ...I might add to silly, not wise, not cunning: and simplicity...Hence the Vulgate renders it little ones...little children, as very babes (Cloverdale).  The Septuagint renders it those that are without evil."

"To the young man knowledge and discretion.  so signify such as are in the state of adolescence, grown up boys...grown up lads.  These, as being giddy and inexperienced, stand in especial need of lessons of wisdom and discretion.  The Hebrew for discretion...the contrivance of some good purpose."

So as the mother of a sixteen year old, I find this timely.  We have a fast closing window of instructing him in knowledge and discretion.  The dictionary defines discretion as the quality of being discrete: prudence; individual choice or judgment; power of free decision or latitude of choice."  It is not enough to pound information into his brain--knowledge--but hopefully to successfully see it internalized until he can make right decisions for himself.  Yep.  That's the goal.  I mean, I have grown children with whom I have very little influence on their decisions now.  There comes a time when you have to let go and pray God will bring to mind all that you tried to teach them.  Until then, baby boy gets to have us instruct him in knowledge and discretion, the lucky thing!

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