Proverbs 1:4, To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Paul in his letter to the Romans willed that the Romans would be wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
Paul knew that the Romans had a problem being simple in the wrong things.
He knew that their old nature pulled on them to be wise unto that which is evil and to be simple unto that which is good.
That is the way it is with Romans, is it not?
And we are all Romans in this sense are we not?
It is the nature of man to be wise in the things that are evil but to know little about that which is good.
In Proverbs 1:22, Solomon cries out the question, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?
How long do you intend to be simple, he says?
When are you going to be wise unto that which is good instead of being simple unto that which is good?
When are you going to stop spending your time in the pursuit and study of that which God condemns and begin your study of that which God loves?
When will your flesh and your eyes stop lusting, when will your pride be humbled?
It is simple to love the world, it is simple to love the things of the world.
The sin nature of man caters to that simplicity.
But the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
There are things to be simple about, but God defines those things as evil.
We are to be wise concerning that which is good and simple concerning evil.
God loves us and provides the Proverbs: To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
That is a purpose of the Proverbs.
To make the simple subtle; to make the simple to know; to make the simple be discrete.
Now Proverbs 14:15 says: The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
This indicates that the 'simple' does not have the right tools in his toolbox. His elevator does not stop at all the floors.
The 'simple' lack that which it takes to separate words of truth from words of error.
This indicates that the 'simple' trust without reason to trust.
It also indicates that trust and believing must have a sound basis.
The simple believe every word because he has no ability not to.
He is simple! But God is not satisfied to have simple children.
He is not satisfied to have children that are not subtle to the wiles of the devil.
God gives his children tools to use against the devil's wiles and he expects those tools to be used.
As Ephesians 6:11 says we are to, Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
and Psalm 19:7, The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
and Psalm 119:130, The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
and Psalm 119:9, Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
Now Solomon intends for his proverbs to give to the simple a subtlety of thinking, a subtlety of perception.
The proverbs are designed to give the simple a refinement of reasoning.
They are designed to give a sharpness of the mind, an understanding of the character or meaning of thought and speech.
Subtlety means to go deeper than the surface of things.
It means a critical penetration of the mind in minute accuracy.
Subtlety brings a fineness of discrimination.
Subtlety is the ability to draw a fine distinction in reasoning and thought.
The subtle person perceives slight impressions.
These impressions accurately reveal the smallest faults, errors or irregularities in an argument or a position.
The subtle person distinguishes and judges with exactness.
The subtle person does not believe every word because he is equipped to perceive the finest of distinctions.
It is like a person who is expert in the weather.
Every small change communicates to that person a message of future weather.
This person prepares for the coming storm while the weather simpleton enjoys the sunshine and lulls away the time in pleasurable pursuits, simply enjoying the warmth of the sun.
The weather simpleton feels the sunshine and believes all is well but the weather expert is equipped to read the subtlest of weather signs.
The weather person is equipped to perceive the finest of distinctions.
God desires that his children be subtle to the coming storms of life, to the storms that are coming to the church.
He wants his children to perceive the finest of distinctions.
He wants his children to be subtle to the smallest faults, errors or irregularities in an argument or a position.
Isn't this what Paul preached to the Ephesians in Ephesians 4:14?
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
How are we to be no more children?
How are we not to be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine?
What is our defense against the sleight of men, cunning craftiness, and deception?
The visible church is full of slighting, cunning, crafty and deceiving men!
Woe is me, is it hopeless? No! God does not leave us defenseless!
Solomon says to look to his Proverbs for subtlety and Jesus Christ says in a broader sense to look to the Word of God.
This is not something that God reserves for the highly intelligent of the well educated.
College won't give you what I'm talking about!
Remember the account in Acts concerning Peter and John.
They were perceived as unlearned and ignorant men but their testimony caused those around them to marvel and they were noticed.
Why, because they had been with Jesus.
Simply because they had physically been with Jesus?
No, because they listened to Jesus and heard his word.
It caused them to change from the simple to the subtle.
They became bold for Christ because the Word of God imparted to them subtlety, knowledge, and discretion.
They heard the Word and it made the difference.
Solomon says, hear these proverbs and they will give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.