At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: But the simple pass on, and are punished.Proverbs 22:3
This is one of those proverbs that requires us to say, after we have submitted to it, something like “yes, but on the other hand.” What do I mean?
First, let us consider the common sense wisdom that this proverb expresses. A thoughtful and prudent man thinks about the road ahead, and takes appropriate precautions. He watches his step. In the words of the proverb, he “hides himself.” He protect himself. He buffers for the future. The simpleton on the other hand, goes down the road whistling, hands in his pockets, and gets what is coming to him, good and hard. Thus far the proverb.
Where does the yes but come in? Well, didn’t Jesus teach us that each day has enough trouble of its own? “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34).
Take no thought for tomorrow, you prudent guy in Proverbs! And isn’t Jesus telling us to walk the path of the simpleton and fool, trusting God for the morrow?
Well, no. Jesus is talking about the man who, in the name of prudence, has all of the anxieties and worries of next week wrapped tight around his axle. And Proverbs is talking about the man who can’t be bothered with simple preparations because he is lazy.
Take this another way. It is fine to make no preparations for tomorrow, provided you know what you are doing. It is fine to make preparations for tomorrow, provided you are doing it in obedience to the wisdom of Solomon, and not in obedience to your own carking worries.
It is sinful to make no preparations for what everyone can see coming. It is sinful to make preparations for your tiny idol of anxiety, with triple bolts on the door. It all depends, in other words.