I saw among the simple,
I noticed among the young men,
a youth who had no sense.
He was going down the street near her corner,
walking along in the direction of her house
at twilight, as the day was fading,
as the dark of night set in.
"Mom! I'm going ____________! " "To school," "to church," "outside to play," "to the library with Dad..." are just a few of the ways I hear that sentence completed on any given day around this house.
And more often than not, the voice I hear is that of our soon-to-be-TEN year old guy!
This, however, is often a problem phrase... at least in our home.
I don't want my children to inform me of their plans... I want them to discuss with me their intentions so that we then have opportunity to warn them... counsel them... help them think of different alternatives... pray with them... I want them to learn that as part of a family, part of a larger group, sometimes their plans need to take back seat to the needs of our family and thus rather than "announce," plans need to be discussed and always subject to change. I want them to learn that sometimes considering others before themselves means asking for permission or determining if their plans inconvenience someone else before blazing forward with whatever.
To some, this may sound controlling. But the reality, at least in our family, is that our children do have a lot of freedom to make their own plans and determine their own schedules - as long as it is done within the constraints of what is practical and workable for our family as a whole. That same question rephrased - "Mom, may I head on over to school," which then gives me the opportunity to ask if they can walk a sibling or drop something off at the office or... In the long run, it shows their submissiveness to authority and willingness to serve/accommodate the needs of someone other than self - and probably at least four times out of five, the answer is, "Have a great day! Love you and see you later!" with no change to the child's plans.
Proverbs 7 is a solemn chapter... and it scares me. Young people, in their normal and expected push for autonomy and independence (which is, I believe, a good thing), tend to want to do their "going" without any "consulting" or any "accountability" because that's what they think makes them grown up and able to decide things on their own.
Yet, in this proverb, a young man who does his "going" without such consultation ends up in a bad place... a predicament... a spot of temptation - and this youth is described as "simple" and as having "no sense." Looking at the more literal translations of this passage, this is also written as naive and void of understanding. That first descriptive word isn't necessarily a negative. It simply means open-minded and susceptible to the instruction of either wisdom or folly. The simple, like our children, are simply those who need to be taught right versus wrong, life-giving versus life-taking, wisdom versus folly. Void of understanding, however, isn't such a neutral expression. In the Hebrew, it is a chaser; one who is lacking or needy in his ability to reflect or think. The word translated as understanding can actually mean a lot of things depending on context, but its most basic meaning seems to be "heart, will, intellect, feelings... or the center of anything." Thus... void of understanding indicates someone chasing after something because there is emptiness s/he is trying to fill.
I wonder if this proverb might have had a different "ending" if he's simply sought wisdom instead of brazenly "going."