Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 22:3
"The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it"
Solomon is trying to help people see a truth that is always raising its head. In a world full of sinful, selfish people – a fallen world – stuff happens that is bad. Are you prepared for those eventualities? The more naive a person is, the less they prepare and then they will pay a heavy price.
When you enter into an agreement or begin enjoying a situation – especially one that has long-term designs – one has to ask, "What are the safeguards if this whole thing goes bad?" or "What are all the ways that this could go bad?" If you are not prepared for the evil that could and will most likely eventuate, you will be naive and pay a heavy price.
the prudent sees the evil
The word prudent is the Hebrew word yaruwm and means crafty, subtle, shrewd. It is often used negatively for one who is devious. It can also be used positively for one who plans and really thinks through the details of how things will happen. In this case it seems to be that the prudent person looks at all scenarios and the possible good and bad outcomes. The one who is thorough thinks through all the ways this situation could go bad and finds a way to protect himself.
and hides himself
The word hides is the Hebrew word sathar and means to conceal, hide, hide carefully, be secret. The idea is to be out of the way when the evil that is coming in the first part of the verse is happening; to be protected from that evil happening to you. There are all types of ways to protect oneself from situations when they go bad. These could be in a signed, legally binding contract; could be in running away; could be physically hiding oneself; could be calling to check references; could be in having a savings account; could be in not entering into an agreement or relationship.
The key idea is that the person who is wise and who is growing in their prudence does not just leap into situations, relationships, or deals but examines what could go wrong as much as what could go right. In business it could be the hiring decision with no thought about how to fire the person. At church it could be putting a person into a leadership position too quickly without having thoroughly checked them out. In romance it could be too quickly saying "I will" when the person's character has not been examined.
This is a key principle in life. Do I have a way to hide myself from the trouble this will bring if it all goes bad? If the answer is no, then you are not being wise.
Some people take this to an extreme and live only for the hiding. They only plan on things going bad. This is also poor judgment and does not allow a person to enjoy life.
but the naive go on
The word naive is the Hebrew word pethiy which means simple or simplicity or naive. It has also been translated as too open-minded and foolish; a reckless impulsiveness that jumps before it examines. The naive person goes forward because it looks good. Right now things look rosy. They give no thought to the possibility that things could go wrong.
and are punished for it
How often have we seen people be punished because they did not adequately protect themselves? It is a shame that they are taken advantage of or that they bear a heavy price for not protecting themselves.
This is another argument against cohabiting without the societal commitment to a spouse called marriage. It will have the chance to go evil and without any protection or reason for the other person not to be evil.