Proverbs 7:7

Proverbs 7:7 "And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding."
Christian Church Buffalo NY
There are a lot things that we can live without.  There are a lot of things we can do without.  Of course, then there are things we can’t live without.  There are some things that we can’t do without.  For example, we can live a long life without a gall bladder or a spleen.  We can live a productive life without reproductive organs or even without a kidney.  While it would be best to have all of our organs, we can do without some of them.  The brain however, is an organ that we cannot live without.  There are some organs that we just can’t live without, such as the heart and the liver.  The same things can be said of the soul.  Virtues are to the soul as the organs are to the body.

While it would be best to have all of the virtues available to us, it is certainly possible to live a successful Christian life without some of them.  There are some virtues however, that are necessary for a soul to be successful in this world.  Charity is one such virtue.  As the heart is to the body, so charity is to the soul.  Without it, the soul will lifeless and useless.  Paul said as much in his letter to the Corinthians when he wrote, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

Proverbs 7 is a father’s story teaching a son that understanding is a virtue that no one can afford to do without. Solomon tells the tragic story of a young man whom we only know to be, “void of understanding.”  Solomon would give no other detail about this young man – good or bad.  He didn’t list any of his strengths nor did he list any of his weaknesses. This lack of detail was intentional because any strengths he did have would be useless to him since he was lacking the chief of virtues.  In the book of Proverbs, Solomon exalts sister virtues, wisdom and understanding as chief virtues.  In 4:7, he wrote, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”  Without wisdom and without understanding, all other virtues would be useless.  This young man could have been disciplined in his reading of the Torah but if he were “void of understanding,” it would do him no good.  This young man could have been kind and loving to his neighbors but if he was “void of understanding,” his kindness would be of no help in time of temptation.  This young man could have been a hard worker and a big giver but those virtues would do nothing to protect him from the strange woman.  This young man could have been an obedient and respectful son but those virtues also would prove useless on the night of his demise.

The story Solomon is about to tell in this chapter is not a lesson about self-control.  The story he is about to tell his son is not about staying sexually pure as much as it about getting understanding.  Rehoboam could not afford to live without understanding.  Of all the virtues that he needed to pursue, there were some that he just couldn’t afford to do without.  Understanding was one such virtue.  If he was a young man “void of understanding,” he would be eventually become a morally lifeless and useless man.
This is the first of five references in the Book of Proverbs to someone being “void of understanding.”  In Proverbs, Solomon teaches about understanding what Paul teaches about charity in 1 Corinthians.  Without understanding, a young man or woman will be nothing.  Without understanding, a person will succumb to deception, foolishness, seduction and temptation.  Without understanding, a person will eventually find themselves in deep spiritual trouble.  There were some things that Rehoboam could afford to be void of but he could not afford to be “void of understanding.” There are some things that we can get along without but we can not get along without understanding.  We should be kind but kindness will not help us avoid temptation.  We should be giving but liberality will not help us discern deception.  We should be forgiving but forgiveness will not be of any help in the heat of the spiritual battle.

Understanding is one of the critical virtues of the soul we can’t live without because it gives us the necessary insight to avoid spiritual danger.  This virtue may best be defined simply by flipping the two words within its word to “standing under.”  Understanding is “standing under” something and seeing how it works.  If you want to “understand” how a car works under, put it on a lift and “stand under” it.  You will see how the wheels are attached to the axles.  You can see how the exhaust system and the gas tank are tied into the engine and how the engine drives the wheels.  You can see how the shocks and the struts help keep the car stable and smooth.  You can further understand how a car works by lowering the lift and opening the hood.  When you “stand under” the hood, you can see how the engine is laid out and all of the working parts of the vehicle.  This gives you a better understanding of a car.  When you better understand how a car works, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about vehicle operation, maintenance and troubleshooting.  Understanding is the virtue that allows you to “stand under” life so as to better comprehend life.  Understanding is the virtue that allows you to see how people operate – to know why people do what they do.  Understanding is the virtue that allows you to see how the laws of life work – to grasp “cause and effect,” or the laws of sowing and reaping.  Armed with this “understanding,” sound decisions will follow.

The young man in the story lacked understanding and this would be the only virtue worth mentioning because its absence was single-handedly responsible for his moral demise.  All other virtues, and there could have been many of them, were irrelevant and useless on this dreadful night.  If his soul were viewed as an automobile, he may have had an engine, wheels and a steering wheel but he lacked HEADLIGHTS.  He may have been a “good kid” but “void of understanding,” he didn’t realize what he was getting himself into.  He didn’t understand what sexual immorality would do to his soul.  He didn’t understand what the wrong woman could do to his mind, soul and spirit.  He lacked the knowledge of how people work and he lacked an appreciation for the laws of sowing and reaping.

Christian, view your soul as an automobile and realize that there are some things you simply can’t go without.  While all virtues are important and beneficial, some virtues are more necessary than others.  Some virtues are heated seats and some virtues are wheels.  Some virtues are side mirrors and some virtues are axles.  Some virtues are window locks and some virtues are engine cylinders.  Wisdom and understanding are your headlights.  You can only get away without them for a brief time because every day turns to night and you can’t safely drive your car at night without headlights.  Wisdom and understanding tell you where to turn.  They are the virtues that guide you away from the cliff and keep you on the road.  Wisdom and understanding are those critical virtues that shed light on life so as to keep you from danger.  Load your soul with as many virtues as possible but don’t go without wisdom and understanding.  The darkness of this world requires headlights in the soul.

There are plenty of virtues you can survive without but no one can be “void of understanding” and spiritually succeed.

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