A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. Proverbs 22:3
83-year-old Harry R. Truman, who had lived near the base of Mount Saint Helens for 54 years, became famous when he decided not to evacuate before the impending eruption, despite repeated pleas by local authorities. His body was never found after the eruption. He had been warned of impending danger, but dug in his heels and was determined to stay.
Harry Truman was not alone. There were 57 others who died on May 20, 1980. They all lived in the area and worked at a paper mill located downstream from the mountain. If it was not for the fact that the explosion took place on a Sunday morning, many more would have been at work. One of the plaguing questions after the natural disaster was why the warnings of the US Geological Survey went unheaded by so many?
Perhaps it is because of a human condition that the Proverbs warns us about. We all like seeing how close we can come to the edge of the cliff. We want to know how far we can can go before we reach a point of no return or stumble off the edge.
The various warnings of Proverbs chapter 22 are signposts that need to be heeded. We are to seek a good name, rather than riches (v. 1). Sowing wickedness will reap trouble (v. 7). The sluggard will go hungry (v. 13). The adulterer will find himself or herself in a deep pit (v. 14). Those who oppress the poor will find themselves in battle against God (v. 22-23). The friend of a hot-tempered man will get ensnared (v.24-25). There are many other warnings that are to be heeded.
On the other hand, there are rewards for those who seek God's wise counsel. The prudent man is rescued (v. 3). Humility and the fear of the lord bring wealth and honor and life (v.4). The generous will themselves be blessed (v. 9). Those who love a pure heart will earn favor of rulers (v. 11).
We may condemn people like Harry Truman and others who did not pay attention to the warnings of Mt. St. Helens, but everyday choices are made that in big ways and small ways represent danger. There is a choice to be made; take refuge when we see danger in our lives, or keep going and suffer for it.