He and his sister are easily led, believe everything they hear and don’t seethe need to consider things, to evaluate them, before they accept them. They are often called‘the simple’ in the Bible, not because they lack brain power but because they are ‘void of understanding’, Prov. 7. 7. In a classic description of seduction, Master Naïve is being tempted to compromise morally. His temptress knows and exploits his weaknesses. She knows he is easily flattered and responds to subtle words, and so persuades him to do what is obviously wrong. He goes after her, as an ox (we would say a lamb) to the slaughter, Prov. 7. 7-23, totally oblivious of the consequences he will have to face. The teaching of Proverbs 7 is to warn us all not to be like him, but to be wise and discerning. But the Naïves are easily caught. Whereas a wise man would be troubled at something that was obviously wrong, and would smell a rat and avoid trouble, Master Naïve yields easily to the thought that ‘stolen waters are sweet’, 9. 17. He believes every word, whereas the prudent are more discerning, Prov. 14. 15. Master Prudent, you see, has the foresight to see the pitfalls that lie ahead, evaluates the consequences of his actions, whereas Master Na√Øve just goes blithely on his way without any thought at all and gets himself into trouble, 22. 3. He is too easy-going; he is happy just to drift along without exercising his brain too much. He would rather be lazy and keep the wrong company than work hard but be a loner, a Billy No-mates, Prov. 12. 11. His tragedy is that he doesn’t even notice that the company he keeps is vain and is leading him astray. He is the sort who hears advice, but would rather turn away from it than follow it,Prov. 1. 32. His philosophy in life seems to be,‘Judge not that ye be not judged’. He therefore refuses to evaluate any advice given, or any teaching he hears and is wide open to exploitation. We are encouraged, instead, to make sure that we are not ‘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,’ Eph 4. 14. We are encouraged to ‘test the spirits’, to evaluate what people say and that we should judge, not in a critical way but in a discerning way, what we are taught.
There is hope for the Naïves. In many ways they are the most loveable of the fools in Scripture, but they are still foolish. Perhaps because they are not proud and consciously rebellious, the Lord ‘preserveth the simple’, Ps. 116. 6. And they can learn from other people’s experiences. ‘Smite a scorner and the simple will beware’, says Proverbs 19 verse 25. Yet it is mainly through giving attention to the Word of God that Master Naïve can be saved from his folly.The ‘testimony of the law is sure, making wise the simple’, Ps. 19. 7; the entrance of God’s word shines light on our lives and ‘giveth understanding to the simple’, Ps. 119. 130. Are you a bit naïve, easily led, gullible? Don’t be. Listen to God’s wisdom today that cries out to us,‘How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity’, Prov. 1. 22. Read God’s word; listen to advice; evaluate what you hear; think about the consequences of what you do. And don’t keep company with fools.