|The story is told of a wealthy landowner back in the days of the horse and carriage who was looking to hire a driver. In order to get to one of his properties there was a very dangerous road the led up a mountain side. On one side of the road was the mountain, and on the other side was a sheer drop – and no guard rail. So, the man interviewed three drivers and asked them one key question: “On that mountain road, how close can you drive to the edge?” The first man said: “I can get to within a foot of the edge.” When the rich landowner asked the same question of his second candidate, the man boasted: “I can get right up on the edge and not even break a sweat.” Then the landowner interviewed his last candidate and asked him: “How close can you get me to the edge of that road?” The third man appeared shocked by the question. “How close?” he asked. “I’m going to hug the mountain and stay as far away from that edge as I can.” The rich man smiled and said: “You’re hired!”
It’s the fool who looks to see how close he can get to the edge without falling off. It’s the wise man who looks for the security of solid ground. Solomon is trying to give similar advice to his son in this passage: “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her…. Let them [wise words] not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.” He’s telling his son this because the best way to avoid the dire consequences of folly is to stay as close to the truth as you can. Notice Solomon’s words of extreme caution when it comes to the way of fools:
· “Enter not” (v.14).
· “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”
Why is he so strong in his warnings? Because the activities of the fool (in this case, the wicked) have such a strong appeal as to be addictive. It is addict’s language that Solomon uses to describe them: “They sleep not, except they have done mischief” (v. 15a). Not only is their behavior addictive, it’s viciously evangelistic: “…and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall” (v. 15b). Their evangelism is not out of a care for the souls of others. It’s so that others can share in their misery and mischief. It’s so they can say: “Everybody’s doing it!” What motivates them so strongly is that their lifestyle always keeps them hungry for more: “They eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.” But they do what they do in ignorance – some of it willful, some of it self-propagating: “The way of wickedness is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” Unlike the wise whose way is as the shining light (v. 18), the fool shuns the light, and as the verse pictures, he’s literally going along his path with no clue as to what he’s tripping over. If he is near the edge ready to fall off that steep drop, he’s entirely ignorant. The sad part is, he knows there is danger, but is irresistibly drawn to the excitement of living on the edge.
So, where are you on that road? Are you staying as close as you can to the solid ground of truth, are are you seeking to live life on the edge?