At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: But whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.Proverbs 28:26
If our secular age were to settle on a formulation of a great Secular Shema, it would certainly be something like “Follow your heart.” This is the central catechetical lesson that is drilled into the heads of our young people——whether in the curricula of our government schools, in our music, in our movies and sitcoms, and in the secular equivalent of Vacation Bible Schools.
Scripture teaches the opposite lesson, more than a little bluntly. The one who trusts in his own heart is a fool. This means that he is trusting in a fool’s heart. Just as man who represents himself in a court of law has a fool for a client, so also it is with a man who goes out into the world with his heart for an advisor.
The man who walks wisely, it says, shall be delivered. Delivered from what? Well, delivered from all the snares, traps, pits, or deceptions that the fools walk right into. Whatever it is that a fool does not anticipate, the wise man anticipates—and guards against.
If we remember what Scripture teaches us elsewhere, and if we consider the nature of the case here, we should be able to see that the mainspring of all the traps will be some form of flattery.
“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).
The fool is someone who tells himself all manner of lies, all of them with a sweet smelling savor. That is the kind of sacrifice you offer up to a deity, right? The thing they don’t have is any kind of outside, objective check. That objectivity must come from somewhere outside the sinner’s ego. This should of course be Scripture ultimately, but it can also come from the unbending nature of reality, or the forceful rebukes of family and friends.
We live in a generation that does not understand what a grace it is, what a gift we have been given, in the possibility of being wrong.