Genesis 3:1 states, “Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made.” The Hebrew word translated cunning in the HCSB appears a total of 11 times in the Old Testament. It is rendered cunning only in Genesis 3:1, crafty in two places (see Job 5:12; 15:5), and shrewd in one (see Prov. 12:23). Interestingly, in each of the remaining seven times the word appears it is translated sensible. We find it in Proverbs in each instance.
- “A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible” (12:16).
- “Every sensible person acts knowledgeably, but a fool displays his stupidity” (13:16).
- “The sensible man’s wisdom is to consider his way, but the stupidity of fools deceives them” (14:8).
- “The inexperienced one believes anything, but the sensible one watches his steps” (14:15).
- “The inexperienced inherit foolishness, but the sensible are crowned with knowledge” (14:18).
- “A sensible person sees danger and takes cover, but the inexperienced keep going and are punished” (22:3).
- “A sensible person sees danger and takes cover; the inexperienced keep going and are punished” (27:12; here, obviously, the proverb we see in 22:3 is repeated).
These verses from Proverbs demonstrate that shrewdness, sensibility, and discernment are traits to be desired and cultivated by godly people. Thus, a shrewd individual can use this trait to honor God. Consider the fourth item in the list of verses above. Oh, if only Eve could have been more sensible! Yes, she was inexperienced, but relying on God, she could have avoided failure when tempted by the serpent. No wonder Jesus said to his followers, “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). Do you desire to be shrewd for God’s glory? Pray that you will have and exercise this important attribute!