The term “on the fence” became a popular expression beginning in 1828. The original context was applied by Carl Schurz, insisting on political independence, rather than appeal to everyone by sitting on both sides of an issue. Not much has changed in the last 2 centuries as politicians have perfected the art of straddling hot button topics with one foot on either side of an argument. In an attempt to dodge what individuals really believe, vague comments seek to win the approval of as many voters as possible.
To understand a proverb and a figure [of speech] or an enigma with its interpretation, And the words of the wise and their riddles [that require reflection]. The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline, Proverbs 1:6-7.
From a spiritual perspective, the fence represents biblical principles. On one side of this divider is the Bible designed to keep evil out by instilling commands, decrees and precepts from God. This land is based upon a higher calling, to use abilities, gifts and talents to glorify God. The opposite side consists of assumptions, elementary theories and worldly traditions. This region encourages self gratification, indulgence and promotion. These areas are polar opposites unless you want to fit in like a chameleon.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ, Colossians 2:8.
The book of Proverbs is designed to shed light on this issue. As an earthly father looking back on his life, King Solomon attempts to bestow wisdom upon one of his sons. Like any worried parent, Solomon sees the evil within the world that gradually bewitches, deceives and poisons the minds of teenagers. Thus, Solomon wrestles to pen the exact words to keep his children on the right side of this invisible fence. May the fear of the Lord serve as a guiding light to ensure that your own offspring follows the narrow path detailed in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:13-14.
by Jay Mankus