Proverbs 8:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 8:5, NIV: "You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it."

Proverbs 8:5, ESV: "O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense."

Proverbs 8:5, KJV: "O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart."

Proverbs 8:5, NASB: "'O naive ones, understand prudence; And, O fools, understand wisdom."

Proverbs 8:5, NLT: "You simple people, use good judgment. You foolish people, show some understanding."

Proverbs 8:5, CSB: "Learn to be shrewd, you who are inexperienced; develop common sense, you who are foolish."

What does Proverbs 8:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Wisdom, poetically imaged as a woman calling out to all mankind (Proverbs 8:1–4), invites human beings to learn. Specifically, this is a warning not to be lazy or complacent about one's knowledge. The word translated "simple" here is from the root pe'ti, which implies someone young, gullible, or easy to manipulate. Likewise, "prudence" comes from the root term 'ormah, which essentially means the opposite: sense, wisdom, shrewdness, and so forth. Despite the claims of critics, Scripture does not encourage blind, mindless belief in God. Rather, as shown here, it demands that humanity sensibly follow what's clearly seen (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:18–20) to a reasonable conclusion. In this context, the most important aspect of prudence is the possession of high moral values. The call of the adulterous woman encouraged her targeted client to abandon morals (Proverbs 7:18–19); wisdom's call is the opposite.

When Jesus ministered on earth, He called sinners to repent, and He empowered them to leave their evil lifestyle behind. He told the woman caught in adultery to "go, and from now on sin no more" (John 8:11). When Zacchaeus trusted in Christ, he was prepared to perform restitution. He said, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold" (Luke 19:8). Even fools are invited to obtain sense. It is foolish to disbelieve God and continue in sin, but when a fool responds to Jesus' invitation to receive salvation, he obtains sense. Christianity enables saved sinners to see life clearly and live righteously (1 Corinthians 2:14).