One day when I was a boy, I walked over to the home of my friend, Butch. I had my dog, Spike on a leash and he walked with me. I knocked on the door, but no one answered. So Spike and I turned around to start the half-mile trip back home. We left Butch’s yard and walked back toward the barn where his horses and sheep lived. There was a place in the back fence where we could get through on our way home.
Near the barn, we had to go down a narrow lane between two fences. I decided I felt like running, so I started pelting down that dirt lane just as fast as I could go. Spike felt like running too, so he was dragging me down the lane at the end of the leash, making me run faster than I ever could have by myself. I tell you, my legs were stretching out to their limit! I was yelling at Spike, encouraging him to run even faster so I could go faster, too. I was looking down instead of ahead, watching Spike and my own flying feet. Wow! This was great!
Suddenly, something hard slammed into my face. My feet flew into the air, the leash slipped out of my hand, and down I went hard on my back– wham! I lay there in the pasture dirt, looking up in shock at the summer sky. I was so stunned I couldn’t even breathe for a few seconds. What in the world had happened?
I didn’t feel like getting up or even moving. I hurt all over the back side of my body and I just wanted to lie there in peace for a minute and get my breath back. But Spike didn’t allow that. He was concerned because suddenly I wasn’t following him any more. So he stopped and came trotting back to check on me. Then he started licking me in the face with big, wet slaps.
I staggered to my feet and saw what had knocked me down. You see, Butch’s family had two pastures where their animals could eat grass. This narrow lane where I was running was the passage between the fields. Whenever Butch wanted to let the sheep go through the lane but not the horses, he laid a big, heavy board through the wire of both fences so it blocked off the lane. The board was high enough for the sheep to go under it, but the horses were taller and they couldn’t get through. I had never paid much attention before, but now I discovered that when the board was up, it was just about the same height as my face. Ouch.
I think this sort of thing was what Solomon had in mind when he wrote Proverbs 22:3. It says, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” In other words, a prudent person pays attention to what he’s doing and thinks ahead to avoid problems that may come. I looked up the word prudent in the dictionary, and it means to be wise or cautious. It means to think about what you’re about to do, and whether doing it may cause trouble. Proverbs 14:15 says, “…a prudent man looketh well to his going.” Well, I surely hadn’t been prudent in running down that lane. I hadn’t looked ahead to see if the board was up–even though I had seen it there many times before! I was too excited about running so fast.
I hope you’re more prudent than I was. Being prudent means asking if a dog is friendly before trying to pat him. It means making sure you know how deep the water is before jumping in. It means checking to see if your wheels are good and tight before riding your bike down a steep hill.
I wish I had been more prudent in Butch’s pasture lane. But running into that big board made me more prudent after that day. I never ran into it again.