The Power of a Simple Choice – Proverbs 19:3

When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin his heart rages against the LORD.

– Proverbs 19:3

Similar to the man whose way is right in his own eyes, the one who does not listen to wisdom (the fool) will find his path leads to destruction. Ironically, this is often the point at which the ruined person begins to point fingers at God saying he is not good, does not care, or is somehow ‘out to get me.’ I think it is easy to understand this tendency. The wicked person intentionally does wrong and may expect dire consequences. However, the fool simply ignores the truth of wisdom and walks in his own way.

Karma should serve up a simple life to the simple man, but unless the simplicity aligns with wisdom by some grand cosmic accident or loving mercy, the simpleton and the fool alike may expect to come to ruin.

Jesus said the way is broad and easy which leads to destruction and many will find it, but “the gate is narrow and the way is hard which leads to life and few there be which find it. narrow is the way that leads to life and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Even the story of wisdom and folly as characters in the Proverbs show the almost random possibility of the simple man discovering the way of life rather than the way of death. Both of them call out to the one who does not know what to do with their own versions of the good life. How is he to know which one to follow?

The Power of a Simple Choice

If not knowing any better I chose to follow the advice of folly, I would be upset about coming to ruin – especially if I was not aware of what I was doing. In this, I come close to rationalizing the rage from the heart of the fool against the LORD. If I had no ability on my own to walk on the path of life and He did not guide me into the good way, I think I would be angry. 

However, I would still be responsible for the actions of folly that brought my way to ruin. Specifically defined, “the fool” in Proverbs is one who has heard the words of wisdom and refused to listen. The fool despises the instruction and discipline that could set him on the pathway of wisdom.

The call to embrace the difficulty of the narrow way must be clearly extended in order for anyone to be called a fool and this is where the irony of this Proverb emerges. The fool has been invited to walk in the way of wisdom and only reached the outcome of ruin by refusing to answer this call. It was a choice clearly granted and rejected by the man himself. 

Learn the Way of Wisdom

If the natural tendency of the human being is to require instructions to walk in the way of wisdom, then apart from the mercy of the LORD, who extends an opportunity to answer wisdom’s call, everyone is equally destined for ruin. The only one left to be the object of rage must be the one who chose the way of folly over the way of wisdom. However, after a life spent ignoring the truth, one cannot easily accept the fact that it was their own choice of folly which brought ruin. It is far more comforting to rage against the source of hope, light, and truth that they chose to ignore. 

Perhaps this is why the instruction of children is so crucial. For them to walk in the way of wisdom, they must learn early to endure the hardship of the choice between wisdom and folly. Once they have tasted the outcomes of folly and begun to rage against the LORD, it will not be easy to turn back to the LORD as a source of wisdom and life. On the other hand, once they have experienced the reward of wisdom, they will not easily turn back from the difficulty and sacrifice required to align their lives with its demands.