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Proverbs 2:12-22 by Robert Dean
Proverbs chapter 2 focuses on God’s Word as our protection and shield. We see the importance of choosing the right path over the appeal of the world’s path in every decision we make. God’s wisdom here is protection against the promise of easy money and easy love relationships. The choice we make brings either joy in life or a death-like existence. The world entices us to abandon the path of righteousness and to walk in dark carnality. The only way to discern a beguiling lie from life-giving Truth is to know the nuances of difference through God’s Wisdom offered in the inspired scripture.
Duration:53 mins 17 secs

Life or Death: Your Choice. Proverbs 2:12-22

 

Proverbs 14:12 NASB "There is a way {which seems} right to a man, But its end is the way of death." This is a sort of theme verse for the book of proverbs. It is particularly apt for the section we are in in chapter two which continues the lessons from the father to the son. The father was Solomon. We do not know who his son was he was instructing in proverbs but we know from Scripture that Solomon was the author of over 3000 proverbs, 300 of which are incorporated within the book of Proverbs that we are studying.

 

The first nine chapters that we study here focus upon the basic importance of wisdom. Wisdom is the skillful application of God's Word to our lives. It has to do with learning and developing the abilities, the familiarity with doctrine, and becoming effective in how we use it on a day-to-day basis. And again and again certain key words, certain key ideas, crop up. As we advance in this chapter it focuses on two different arenas in which God's Word protects us. The issue that crops up is really on the importance of choosing the right path of life, the right way. These words, path and way and direction, are words that are used metaphorically in Scripture to depict the course of life that we choose to follow. As Proverbs 14:12 points out there is a way that is very attractive and seems right, that appeals to our instinct, and is popular. This is the way our peers think, the way of the crowd, the way that most people think will bring the happiness in life, the joys and successes in life. But the reality is that the end result of that course is really self-destruction. It is not death. In Proverbs we are not talking about death so much as eternal condemnation or life so much as eternal life, but experiencing a quality of life here on earth. It is whether we are going to have a death-like existence because we are following the path of human viewpoint, following the dictates and temptations of our sin nature which leads to a life of self-induced misery, self-destruction and unhappiness, or whether we are going to choose a path that not only brings a fullness of life during this life, a capacity for life, a capacity for happiness and joy that is not based on people or circumstances but is dependent upon that which never changes—the relationship with God who is always faithful and never-changing. 

 

So it presents a choice of life or death. We will direct our attention to the last two verses in the chapter because this is where the entire chapter heads, the lesson, the final moral lesson. Proverbs 2:21 NASB "For the upright will live in the land And the blameless will remain in it; But the wicked will be cut off from the land And the treacherous will be uprooted from it." There is a choice between life and death in every choice we make in life.

 

As has been pointed out, in these first nine chapters there is an introduction to the book of Proverbs. A proverb is basically a short, pithy maxim, a short, pithy saying that has boiled down a universally observed truth into two or three lines that in a very abbreviated manner express this truth. For example, we have an English proverb: Like father; like son. Often we see sons and they resemble physically their father, but to the son who has grown up in the house under the influence of their father and their mother he will often have an inclination—maybe it is passed on genetically—to imitate their father. So the proverb not only indicates at a surface level that a son may physically resemble the father but that in his character, his life, his attitudes, he often reflects the parents. But we have this very short statement, "Like father; like son." It has compressed all of that into one very brief, succinct statement. Is that always true? No, it is not always true. But it is true for the most part and generally speaking it is true enough and we recognize that there is a lot more truth there than we often think about.

 

That is what a proverb is. It is not a promise; it is not a law; it is a proverbial statement reflecting what is true in most case, what is normative in life because of the way that God has created things. So these are wise sayings that have been boiled down in a very creative, poetic way to express these eternal, timeless truths of Scripture.

 

The first nine chapters, though, don't really fit that pattern of Proverbs. The first verse started off, "The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel." Then there is an introduction in the first seven verses of chapter one, and then we get into the prologue of the book. If we skip over to Proverbs 10:1 it has a second statement: "The proverbs of Solomon." Following that in Proverbs ten to the end of the book is where we really see these one, two, or sometimes three verse Proverbs; these short, compressed saying that express biblical truth. But the proverbs per se don't really begin until chapter ten verse one. We have a prologue from chapter one through chapter nine that emphasizes these ten lessons of the father to the son that extol the value and the virtue of wisdom: that we must before we do anything else know that the ground for understanding and applying all of the Proverbs is a desire, a recognition, a passion to make wisdom our ultimate goal in life. 

In the second lesson there is an emphasis on making the individual making a decision regarding the priority of the Word of God in his life. The first four verses of chapter two emphasize this. The initiation of this process is in our camp, in our court; it is our responsibility. We have to make a decision as to the significance and importance of God's Word in our life. If we make that decision; if we seek, if we search, if we desire it more than gold or silver, then God will reveal Himself to us. We will come to understand these things as a result of our diligent desire and search. We will come to understand the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God.

 

He explains a little more in the next few verses of why this is important. God is the one who dispenses wisdom; He is the source of wisdom. As a result of gaining that wisdom and that knowledge of God two things happen. God Himself provides a protection for us, and the wisdom we learn also protects us.

 

As we get down into the rest of the chapter, from verse 12 to the end of the chapter, we see that this preserves and protects us in two areas of deliverance. The temptation for easy money. Everyone has the desire to seek security and meaning and value in life through financial things, the things that money can buy, through success in the work place; all of this is wrapped up in the approach to easy wealth. Secondly, through easy love. Not just through illicit love, through adulterous affairs, but also just desiring significance and meaning in wrong relationships. This covers a whole spectrum of different things, not just the extreme form of being involved with prostitutes or an adulterous affair.

So Proverbs 2:12, 13 express the arena from which we are protected by the Word of God.  Proverbs 2:12 NASB "To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things." This is the one who makes a promise of easy success, easy money. Proverbs 2:16 NASB "To deliver you from the strange woman, From the adulteress who flatters with her words." Easy love; easy sex. This is the message of our culture again and again and again. These messages are proclaimed to us via the media, advertising campaigns; whatever it is we can get it through all manner of shortcuts without having to implement those "puritanical" commands of God.

 

An overview of verses 12-15. This expresses and defines the first arena of deliverance. "To deliver you from the way of evil …" That is a summary statement that is then expanded in the subsequent verses. "The way of evil" is a general; statement. "… From the man who speaks perverse things. [13] From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness." One thing we should notice as we go through this is the use of these different terms for the course or direction of life. They emphasize a course of life, a decision. Which one are we going to take?

 

The word "deliver" here is the Hebrew natsal. It means to deliver and it is used at the beginning of verse 12 and verse 16. It ties these two sections together. We have the first section of how God protects us, vv. 12-15, the second from v. 16 to 20. There is a conclusion in vv. 21, 22. The word natsal has the idea of deliverance, rescue, saving someone from dire circumstances, snatching them away from danger, removing them from a problem situation. Usually it has the idea of physical deliverance but often it is used as a synonym for eternal salvation, for redemption. So it has a literal meaning and also a meaning that is applied to salvation. We have to look at the context to see what the author is referencing.

 

Psalm 7:1 NASB "O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge; Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me." Here is a use of the word "save" that is not related to eternal salvation. It is not even related to sanctification or the spiritual life, it is related to physical deliverance from one's enemies. It recognizes that we are often in situations in life where there are people who are either out to get, us or we think they are out to get us. They may be in a position of persecuting us, and so the deliverance spoken of here is protection when we come under the slanderous assaults from other people and when we go through those forms of people testing it is God who delivers us. It doesn't necessarily mean that that person is going to go away or that the assaults are going to go away, but it does mean that God is going to protect and preserve us no matter what they may do, and He is going to see that those verbal assaults may not have the impact we fear in our lives.

 

Psalm 25:20 NASB "Guard my soul and deliver me; Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You." This has more of a spiritual context here as the focus is on the life of the psalmist and he is focusing on God's protection, that whatever the assault is God is the only one who can provide ultimate deliverance. Deliverance is a result of trusting God. This is an application of the faith-rest drill, trusting God and resting in His ability to solve the problem.

 

Psalm 34:4 NASB "I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears." Fear is one of the great trends of the sin nature that debilitates us spiritually. We are told in the New Testament that we are "to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which passes all comprehension shall defend your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." That is not the idea of simple concern or simple thinking—sometimes we call it worry—as we may be preparing for some event this week and we go over and over the details again in our minds in preparation. That is not the focus here, the focus here is on really worrying about something, trying to control it through our won anxiety. God is the one who delivers us from those fears.

 

Psalm 34:17 NASB "{The righteous} cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles." God is the only source of our deliverance. That doesn't mean that we just fold our hands and "let go and let God." We do put things into God's hands allowing Him to take care of things, but we have responsibilities as well. Our responsibility is to walk in obedience and do what we can within our realm of responsibility and let God take care of the rest.

 

Psalm 79:9. This is one passage where natsal is used in conjunction with what we normally think of as eternal salvation. NASB "Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and forgive our sins …" (NKJV "… and provide atonement for our sins.") " … for Your name's sake." So here natsal is used as a synonym for atonement or cleansing for sin. So when we look at this in the context of Proverbs 2:12, to deliver you from the way of evil is not looking at it in terms of eternal salvation. It is looking at it in terms of practically rescuing us from the trap of temptation and consequent self-destruction if we follow the path of our sin nature and follow the peers who are encouraging us to think in terms of human viewpoint and live in terms of carnality. The "way of evil" is the Hebrew word derek which simply means a path or road, and it is a metaphor for the course of life. Here it is the evil way, and "evil" is just the generic Hebrew word for evil. It is a synonym for sin, which is contrary to God's plan and purposes. Secondly, this is expanded to be " … the man who speaks perverse things." This is the person who is speaking distorted truth. It is the Hebrew word tahkupoth and it means someone basically that has reversed the natural or the created order from the way God designed it. It is used figuratively of a prostitute in the Scriptures, of the spiritual unfaithfulness of Israel when Israel yielded to idolatry and departed from the truth of God's Word.

 

So perverse things relates to any truth that has been distorted, turned upside down. We can think of that is ways to day like the principle of marriage being distorted so that it includes homosexual marriage. Homosexual marriage is not marriage but people are defining the term "marriage" not on the basis of two members of the opposite sex and joined together before God in order to accomplish His will in their life, but now marriage has been redefined as having an intense romantic attraction. The Word of God delivers us from the trap of the temptation from this path.

 

Proverbs 2:13 NASB "From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness." First they are reversing the values and distorting them, then they are departing or abandoning the path of rightness to walk in the ways of darkness. Darkness is always used figuratively in Scripture as the course of carnality or sin. 

 

Notice that if we look back to 1:3 part of the reason that the son is challenged to learn the proverbs is to receive the instruction of justice-tsadaq, which has to do with righteousness. So here the peers are enticing us to leave the paths of righteousness and to walk in the ways of darkness. The word "rightness" is yosher, which has to do with the level way, the order, the way of equity. They are departing the path of integrity or the course of honesty and justice in order to walk the ways of darkness. The way of integrity is emphasized in Proverbs 1:3 and in 2:9. 

 

The enticing one is also further expanded in verse 14 in terms of his internal mindset, his values, not just his external actions. Proverbs 2:14 NASB "Who delight in doing evil And rejoice in the perversity of evil." The word for rejoice and its synonym indicate having great joy over something, enthusiasm over something. The first word is the Hebrew word sameach which is a word that is heard today in Jewish contexts because today is Purim, the annual feast (not a biblical feast) to celebrate God's provision and deliverance of the Jewish people at the time of Esther. It is used often as a general statement like have a happy holiday—have joy, or rejoice today because today is a special day. It is a time and attitude of rejoicing and having great enthusiasm and joy over something, having a party. So in this verse they are rejoicing and celebrating evil. This is the same word for evil that ties us back to verse 12 that the Word of God will deliver us from the way of evil. The way of evil is rejoiced in by those who are antagonistic to God and have their own path to life.

 

The parallel in the second line is to delight. It has the same basic meaning—to be joyful, to be happy, and to express that joy. The enemies are the peers of the son, the ones who rejoice mentally; they just value evil. We have more and more people in this country who value that which is wrong. They rejoice over it and they hate Christians. Christians may not say anything negative to them at all but just because a Christian believes in moral absolutes and they are rejecting all moral absolutes they hate him violently just because of what you believe. " … rejoice in the perversity of evil." This is another form of the same word we saw in verse 12, the man who speaks perverse things. He not only speaks perverse things but he delights in perversity, in turning things on their end, reversing morals and reversing values. The man who speaks perverse things is always there to tempt the believer away from the path of righteousness. 

 

Proverbs 2:15 NASB "Whose paths are crooked, And who are devious in their ways [paths]." "Crooked" is the Hebrew word iqqesh, which has the idea of something crooked or perverted, the twisting of something that was once straight. It is the idea of taking something that was true and accurate at the beginning and then beginning to distort it and warp it over time through the use of vocabulary, changing the meaning terms, and things of that nature. They are "devious in their paths." This is the same word we saw in verse 13 dealing with the paths of rightness. Here it is used in the negative, they are devious in their paths. These devious and crooked paths lead to destruction in other proverbs.

 

Proverbs 4:12 NASB "When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble." That word for stumbling is the idea that you will not be brought down because of a crooked path because of something that is not level in the path.

 

Proverbs 22:5 NASB "Thorns {and} snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards himself will be far from them." The way of the perverse is the crooked path.

 

Then we get to the second area in which we are protected in this passage from evil. It is not just protection from peers who seek to entice us into the wrong path but also from the immoral woman. This would stand for all manner of immorality as well, all manner of sexual immorality and sins. Not just the area of fornication but adultery. This is being depicted primarily as the adulterous woman, who is married but she leaves the covenant of God. She forgets her marriage vows and treats her husband with no respect and enters into an affair.

 

Proverbs 2:16 NASB "To deliver you from the strange [immoral] woman, From the adulteress who flatters with her words; [17] That leaves the companion of her youth And forgets the covenant of her God."

 

The explanation of the danger of this is given in vv. 18, 19. "For her house sinks down to death And her tracks {lead} to the dead." The house there is used metaphorically to refer to all of the immoral activities that take place there. Death is not eternal condemnation, it is self-destruction in life. Her paths, her course of life, lead to the dead. The picture there is picturing a sort of mass graveyard where the corpses are gathered together. 

 

Proverbs 2:19 NASB "None who go to her return again, Nor do they reach the paths of life." Does that mean that if you go down the path of adultery or immoral sexual relationship that you can't get back on track? No, it doesn't. But it is warning that there is such a seduction, such an enticement, that it is very rare for someone who once gets involved in an immoral sexual lifestyle for them to turn back and recover. It is not easily done. So we are to stand firm. We are protected and guarded only by the Word of God. 

 

Proverbs 2:20 NASB "So you will walk in the way of good men And keep to the paths of the righteous."

 

Verse 16 starts the same way that verse 12 started: "To deliver"—to deliver from a particular danger, from a trap or enticement. The first word for immoral woman refers to an adulterous woman. The difference between adultery and immorality is that in adultery one or more of the parties are married; in immorality they are not married but are engaged in a prohibited sexual relationship. " … who flatters with her words." She is a seductress. This has to do with the fact that she is verbally enticing, promising something that she can't deliver on. She is using smooth and deceptive speech. "Flatters" is the Hebrew word chalaq which literally refers to that which is smooth or slippery and came to be used quite a bit to refer to language that was smooth, deceptive and flattering. In English our concept of flattery is simply one of telling someone nice things which may not be true. But the Hebrew concept of flattery here is that it is intentionally deceptive.

 

Some of the verses where this is used: Psalm 5:9 NASB "There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction {itself.} Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue."

 

Psalm 36:2 NASB "For it flatters him in his {own} eyes Concerning the discovery of his iniquity {and} the hatred {of it.}"

Proverbs 2:17 NASB "That leaves the companion of her youth And forgets the covenant of her God." She is married, has been married for some time but no longer is faithful to her husband and she has abandoned him. Marriage is basically a covenant, a promise, an oath given before God of loyalty and faithfulness between husband and wife. It is a legal contract that is entered into for life between the husband and the wife.

 

Proverbs 2:18 NASB "For her house sinks down to death And her tracks [paths] {lead} to the dead." The corpses. It is talking about the place where there is a self-destruction in life. There's no hope there, no life there, no value there.

 

Proverbs 2:19 NASB "None who go to her return again, Nor do they reach the paths of life." If they give themselves over to that lifestyle the end result is self-destructive and under normal conditions there is no recovery.

 

Proverbs 2:20 NASB "So you will walk in the way of good men And keep to the paths of the righteous." The purpose of deliverance is so that we may walk in the way of goodness, the way of the Lord. This is described as the paths of righteousness. 

 

Summary: Proverbs 2:21 NASB "For the upright will live in the land …" Remember that this was written for the Jews living still at this time in the united kingdom, living in the land God had promised them. It was the land of promise and the land of blessing where God had promised them a rich, abundant life. So the application is that those who are upright will dwell in the land. Those who engaged in illicit sexual sins the penalty was a death penalty. So one who engaged these activities literally risked his life. "And the blameless will remain in it" – those who did not succumb to the temptations and traps along the way by being on the wrong path.

 

In contrast: Proverbs 2:22 NASB "But the wicked …" Those who yield to the temptations and traps along the way. " … will be cut off from the land …" The land of promise, the land of blessing. " … And the treacherous will be uprooted from it." So there are consequences in time for our sinful decisions and our failures to walk according to the path that God lays out for us.

 

The Scripture teaches that before we can walk a path that brings blessing from God we have to be in right relationship with Him. That only comes through salvation, by faith and trust in Jesus Christ.