Proverbs 1:16

Proverbs 1:16 "For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood."
Here in chapter one, Solomon spends as much as time as he does trying to persuade his son to choose his friends carefully because he knows how influential peers are, especially among young people.  If Rehoboam chooses the wrong crowd to call friends, they will become more influential in his life than his father will be.  They would have most of, if not all of his ear.  They would have most of, if not all of his heart.  The rest of Solomon’s book of wisdom would fall on his son’s deaf ear if the wrong friends were chosen.  The rest of Solomon’s wisdom would have little to no impact on Rehoboam if the wrong friends were chosen. Therefore, he spent substantial time on identifying and avoiding the wrong crowd early in this book of maxims.

In verse 15, the young man and all potential readers were urged not to walk with sinners.  They were urged to refrain their feet from the path of the wicked.  They were urged to avoid that path because, as verse 16 puts it, the feet of the wicked “run to evil” and “make haste to shed blood.”  At first glance, Solomon’s observation of the wicked seems rather simple and obvious.  But this man was anointed with something far more impressive than common sense; he was anointed with superb wisdom.  It is for this reason that his observation should be digested more carefully.  Solomon did not write of the wicked that “their feet run to do evil.” Instead, he wrote of the wicked that “their feet run to evil.”  It was only after he wrote that did he then say that their feet “make haste to shed blood.”  This wise man concluded that the wicked run TO evil before they run TO DO evil. 

If read too quickly, the truth of verse 16 will be lost.  Direction Determines Deed.  We decide which path to take before we decide what to do on that path.  The wicked choose EVIL before they choose to DO EVIL.  The wicked choose the path of EVIL before they choose to SHED BLOOD on the path of EVIL.

Direction Determines Deed.  Path Prompts Practice.  A college student decides which classes to take as a direct result of first deciding what career path to take.  A university student chooses which classes to take only after first deciding which degree to pursue.  Before the feet of a young student can run to a class on Molecular Biology, his feet must run in the direction of Medicine in pursuit of a degree in Medicine.  In order to choose a class on Microbiology, a student must already have chosen Medicine as his or her educational path.

Solomon is teaching his son and all other listeners to avoid the path of the wicked, not just because of what it is but ultimately, because of what it leads to.  The sinners of Proverbs 1 choose to shed blood because they, at some point chose the wrong path; they chose the evil path.  The sinners of Proverbs 1 choose TO DO EVIL because they, at some point chose EVIL as a direction for their lives.  Solomon wanted his son to think beyond the moment.  He wanted his young son to forsake youthful optimism and embrace the wisdom of age – he wanted him to see beyond the present.  He wanted him to see the direction of the wicked crowd; he wanted him to see where the path of the wicked leads to.  He wanted him to see the harm with getting on that same path; he wanted him to see the danger in going in that same direction. 

Direction Determines Deed.  Parents would do well to teach their children to identify the direction of their peers.  Instead of asking, “What are they doing?” young souls should ask of their peers, “Where are they going?”  One can be harmless on the path of evil for a time, but eventually that path leads to harm for they will eventually and ultimately choose to DO EVIL. 

Direction Determines Deed.  Parents would do well to teach their children to identify the direction they’re going.  Instead of asking, “What am I doing?” young souls should ask of themselves, “Where am I going?”  Young and old alike, all should focus on the direction they’re going instead of on the deeds they’re doing.  Twice in the Book of Proverbs we read, “There is a WAY which seemeth right unto a man, but the END thereof are the ways of death” (14:12; 16:25).  We can easily deceive ourselves into thinking we’re on the right path because we’re presently not DOING anything dangerous or harmful when in reality we’re on a PATH that leads to destruction.  That is a sobering and even frightening thought!

An inability to identify which direction we’re heading is a flaw we cannot afford to possess.  Recently, a man told me that he experienced a most inconvenient mistake while on vacation.  While heading home to New York from Virginia, he failed to identify which direction he was going.  It wasn’t until he saw a sign welcoming him to North Carolina that he realized he had been heading in the wrong direction for three hours! 

As we choose our peers, let us be less concerned with their present deeds and more concerned with the direction they’re heading.  As we evaluate our own lives, let us be less concerned with our present deeds and more concerned with the direction we’re heading.  No matter what we’re DOING today (good or bad or in between), the DIRECTION we’re going will determine our DEEDS tomorrow and beyond.  And as we seek to help others, let us be less concerned with their present deeds and more concerned with the direction they’re heading.

People can look good on a bad path for a while but eventually, that bad path will produce bad deeds.  Therefore, we must identify the path.  We must focus on choosing the right path so that the right practices will eventually be produced.  Where one is GOING will eventually determine what one is DOING.

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