Noel Smith was king among dangerous rogues – ‘at the top of the prisoners’ hierarchy’, he said – while detained in a high security jail, serving eight life sentences for brutal crimes. Medical tests indicated that his compulsive criminal behaviour had been driven by damage to a specific area of his brain due to a bang on his head in childhood.
I listened intently on my car radio because he had now written a book, hence this interview on ‘Saturday Live’ (scheduled as ‘an entertainment programme’!).
Into that troubled brain one day a sobering stream of thoughts arose, and he requested a transfer to a different prison where he could receive counselling to prepare him for release to a life in regular society. He was relocated to a prison for sex offenders – the very category he had hated, hunted down and beaten up in his high security days.
The one other detail I managed to glean during my brief drive was that he now shares his experiences with young offenders, some of whom do not want to make his story their own. One cynical internee told him he intended to return to a life of crime that had earned him a regular large weekly income, and ‘how much are you getting, Smith?’ When asked in reply, ‘How long will you be locked up here getting a mere £7 a week for years? Do the maths’ it became this lad’s light bulb moment.
God wasn’t mentioned in this interview. However, ‘… when Gentiles, who do not have the law [given by Moses], by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them in that day … when God judges the secrets of men … by Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:14-16). For ‘God … has put eternity into man’s heart’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
All this helped me to see how Proverbs 1:20-33 could work out in real life situations:
 Where does wisdom ‘cry aloud’ (Proverbs 1:20-21)?
Wisdom calls for our attention in all of life’s thoroughfares: ‘in the plaza [Hebrew/English Old Testament], in the markets …, at the head of the noisy streets, … [and] at the entrance of the city gates’ – or as we might say: in public parks, supermarkets, taverns, railway stations, bus stops, airports … and even prisons!
 To whom does she appeal (Proverbs 1:22)?
The ‘simple ones’ are spoken to: ‘How long … will you love being simple [that is ‘naïve’]?’ The scoffers’ and ‘fools’ are spoken about.
 What does she offer, and on what terms (Proverbs 1:23)?
‘Look here!’ she cries. ‘I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.’ However, for gospel insight, ‘how are they to hear without someone preaching?’ (Romans 10:15). She offers this two-component communication to anyone who will convert: ‘If you turn at my reproof’. And she offers more than theory – ‘my words’ of counsel, for she will outpour her motivating and empowering ‘spirit’ to enable those words to be understood and turned into wholesome living.