Prov. 1:22 "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?"
Attempting to gain and keep his young son’s attention, Solomon chose to personify wisdom as a woman. In verses 20 & 21, he placed wisdom in all public places – “in the streets,” “in the chief place of concourse,” “in the openings of the gates” and “in the city.” He wanted his son and his readers to realize that wisdom is available, that wisdom is accessible. No one needs to travel great distances to find wisdom. No one needs to climb some steep mountain to find it; wisdom is available wherever men walk and wherever men live. Verses 20 & 21 inform us that wisdom is not only accessible, but more importantly, it is audible. Solomon didn’t just place wisdom in public places – he placed wisdom speaking in public places. “Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the city she uttereth her words.” Wisdom can be seen with open eyes and wisdom can be heard with open ears. Fortunately, God has made wisdom available to all men and God has made wisdom audible to all men.
According to Solomon’s inspired writing, wisdom’s primary message hinges on the element of time. Her crying invitation to the masses begs for serious consideration of one’s moral timeline. Here in verse 22, wisdom asks three questions:
How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?
How long, ye scorners, will ye delight in your scorning?
How long, ye fools, will ye hate knowledge?
For each group lacking her companionship, wisdom asks them to consider their moral timeline. For the simple who has not acknowledged her, she asks, “How long will ye love simplicity?” For the scorner who has despised her, she asks, “How long will ye delight in your scorning?” For the fool who has rejected her, she asks, “How long will ye hate knowledge?” Before wisdom can be received, the alternative must be disliked. Before the simple can receive wisdom, he cannot love simplicity. Before the scorner can receive wisdom, he cannot delight in scorning. Before the fool can receive wisdom, there can be no pleasure in hating knowledge. It is for this reason that wisdom asks, “How long will ye love simplicity? How long will ye delight in your scorning? How long will ye hate knowledge?”
As long as someone enjoys their simplicity, there will be no desire for the complexity of wisdom. As long as someone enjoys their scorning, there will be no desire for listening to wisdom. As long as someone loves foolishness, there will be no desire for the possession of wisdom. As long as someone fails to see the dangers in their present moral state, they will lack the desire to forsake that moral state. As long as someone fails to appreciate the harm drunkenness poses to their body, soul and spirit, they will love alcohol. As long as they love their drinking, they will not desire sobriety. As long as someone fails to acknowledge the harm gluttony poses to their body, soul and spirit, they will delight in food. As long as they delight in their eating, they will not desire moderation. Simply put, as long as we love what we have, we will not pursue what we don’t have. As long as we delight in who we are, we will not seek to become someone we are not. Here in Proverbs 1, wisdom is highlighting vice over virtue because virtue will not be considered until vice is no longer wanted. Hence, the emphasis on timeframe.
For the simple to have any chance at moral success, he must confront his love for simplicity. For the scorner to have any chance of becoming wise, he must confront his delight for scorning. For the fool to have any chance of salvaging his life, he must confront his pleasure for hating knowledge. Before the Virtuous Wisdom makes her invitation to men, she first shines a bright light on vice and asks, “How long?”
This question is asked over and over throughout Scripture for the same reason – people will not seek the right things as long as they are happy with the wrong things. In 1 Kings 18, the Israelites were content with their moral indecision prompting the prophet Elijah to ask, “How long halt ye between two opinions?” In Exodus 10, Pharaoh hadn’t yet loathed the harm caused by his pride. This prompted God to ask, “How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me?” In Numbers 14, the Jewish nation again questioned God when gazing upon the giants of Canaan. They failed to appreciate the danger of their unbelief which then prompted God to ask, “How long will this people provoke me?”
Wisdom knows what we all must learn: as long as we are content with vice, we will not desire virtue.
Wisdom’s first question to man is not, “When will ye receive me?”
It is instead, “How long will ye love that which blinds you to me?”