Proverbs 4:18-19

Proverbs 4:18-19 "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble."
Church Elma NY
As we read and consider Scripture, we have to remember the words of Proverbs 30:5, which states that every word of God is pure.”   Every book, chapter and verse of Scripture is pure.  Every sentence and phrase of Scripture is pure.  Every WORD of Scripture is pure.  Because every single word of Scripture is pure, every single word of Scripture is important.  From spiritually-significant words like “faith” and “charity” to spiritually-insignificant words like “is” and “the,” every word of Scripture is important.  These verses in Proverbs 4 illustrate this truth well.
 
In his ongoing campaign of promoting the way of wisdom over the way of wickedness, Solomon did not tell his son that the path of the just is a bright path nor did he assign darkness to the wrong path.  Carefully note what he did say and how a little word defined the meaning of what he said in these verses.  In verse seventeen, Solomon declared the path of the just to be “AS” the shining light while in verse eighteen, he described the way of the wicked being “AS” darkness.  This tiny two-letter word cannot be ignored or overlooked.  Removing the word, “as” in these verses would give them an entirely different meaning; a meaning that God didn’t intend when inspiring the son of David.

If God meant for Solomon to tell his son and his readers that the path of the just is bright and the way of the wicked is dark, then He wouldn’t have included the little word, “as” in each statement.  Again, every word of God is pure,” which makes every word of God relevant and important.  Solomon used the word, “as” often in his writings as it a word that provides imagery without compromising accuracy.  Overlooking any word, including this little word can change the meaning of an entire verse or passage.  Take the Song of Solomon for example.  The removal of this little word in the Song of Solomon would render the book unrealistic and untrustworthy.  For example, consider five verses in the fifth chapter without this little word when describing the man of the romantic relationship:
11 - “His head is the most fine gold.”
12 - “His eyes are the eyes of doves.”
13 - “His cheeks are a bed of spices.”
14 - “His hands are gold rings set with the beryl.”
14 - “His belly is bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.”
15 - “His legs are pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold.”

Without the six uses of the little word, “as” in this passage, it would appear that a Marvel superhero is being described.  Spoiler-alert: there are no superheroes with gold heads, spiced cheeks, gold fists, ivory abs, marble legs and bird vision!  Without the important two-letter word in Scripture, a passage can mean something it does not.  Take God the Father’s words for example in Genesis 3:22 when He said, “Behold, the man is become AS one of us.”  Remove one tiny word from that holy statement and we have God saying, “Behold, the man is become one of us.”  Such a statement would be blasphemous since there are only three Members of the Godhead – God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit.  For another example, consider the words of Christ in Matthew 22:30 when He taught, “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are AS the angels of God in heaven.”  A simple oversight of that little word, “as” would result in the teaching that men and women become angels when they enter Heaven when they don’t.  Christ used angels in His teaching only in relation to the state of marriage in Heaven.  

Solomon used the word, “as” frequently in each of his books, not just in the Song of Solomon.  In Proverbs 16:27, he wrote, “An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is AS a burning fire.”  Overlooking that little word, “as” could lead someone to falsely assume that Solomon was describing a person who smokes cigarettes, cigars or pipes.

Why point out such a small word in a set of big statements in Proverbs 4:17-18?

Because the use of the word, “AS” ultimately defines what it exactly is that Solomon is saying.  Without the word, “as” in each of these verses, it would be easy to conclude that the path of the just is a visibly bright path while the way of the wicked is a visibly dark path.  Without taking the word, “as” into account when interpreting these verses, it would be natural to conclude that one can choose their path in life based on the outside appearance of these paths.  In other words, if the people and circumstances at one optional path in life seem dark, then it must be the wicked way while if the people and circumstances at another optional path in life appears bright, then it must be the right way.  This is not at all what the Bible is teaching because the wrong path in life isn’t always dark and the right path in life isn’t always bright.  Paul the Apostle told the Corinthians that Satan, the Doctor of Darkness, can transform himself “into an angel of LIGHT(2 Corinthians 11:14).  In other words, the gatekeeper of the wicked way can make that way look bright and light.  On the flip side, David, the Sweet Psalmist of Israel spoke intimately in the Psalms about being in “darkness” and walking in the “valley of the SHADOW of death” (Psalm 18:28; 23:4).  In other words, the right path doesn’t always look bright from the outside.

By using the word, “as” in each of these verses, Solomon is teaching us that the two opposing paths in life are vastly different in what can be seen on those paths, not necessarily in how those paths are seen.  Although at times the wrong path in life may look bright from the outside, it is a dark path that makes it impossible to see what’s wrong amidst life’s biggest obstacles.  On the contrary, although at times the right path in life may look dark from the outside, it is a bright path that offers insight into life’s greatest challenges.  Those who travel the way of the wicked don’t succeed because they can’t even see what they’re stumbling over.  Those who travel the path of the just succeed because they gain increased insight about themselves, others, God and life the longer they stay on that path.

Choosing the path of the just is like choosing to assemble a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle with bright lights all around you.  Choosing the way of the wicked however, is like choosing to assemble that same puzzle in the dark.  Life offers everyone the relatively same set of challenges.  The path of the just offers light – increasing light – to solve those problems.  The way of the wicked offers no light to solve those same problems.

In a passage that starts with heeding parental counsel, it is understandable that a young man would fail to see the light and excitement of choosing the path that an older, wiser parent suggests.  Young men and women often see the wise ways of their parents as gloomy, boring and plagued with darkness.  When these same young people look at the alternative in the world, they see bright lights, activity and excitement.  In such a case, the right path looks dark and the wrong path looks bright when in reality, the wrong path is a spiritually dark one while the right path is a spiritually bright one.  Young person, choose justice and righteousness whether it looks bright and exciting or not.  When you choose justice and wisdom, you will choose a path that will offer you light and insight that will then grow in intensity with each day you live.  It is only on this path that people truly succeed.     

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