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Which Way?

The Bible describes a good many ways we might go. Here are some examples from the Old Testament wisdom literature.

The way of a fool. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to counsel” (Proverbs 12:15). It is hard to tell some folks much of anything; they already have all the answers, or so they think. Psalm 49:13 adds a warning against others who buy into their foolishness.

The way which seems right. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). The notion that we have a reliable, intuitive sense of right and wrong is just not so. The fact that there is such a wide variety in people’s “natural” sense of what is and is not acceptable confirms our need for external instruction.

The way of the wicked. “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men” (Proverbs 4:14). This is the way of those who prefer sin over doing right. While it is often portrayed as an easier or more fun road to travel, it is fraught with difficulty. “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble” (Proverbs 4:19). Proverbs 13:15 says, “The way of transgressors is hard” (KJV). Psalm 1:6 concludes, “The way of the wicked will perish.”

The way of righteousness. This is the opposite. It is variously called “the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 12:28), “the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23), “the way of the Lord” (Proverbs 10:29), etc. Psalm 119 calls it “the way of Your testimonies” (v. 14), “the way of Your precepts” (v. 27), “the way of Your commandments” (v. 32), and “the way of Your statutes” (v. 33). These expressions emphasize that the right way is revealed in God’s law (cf. Psalm 1:1-2); each step must be taken as it directs.

The way of the lazy. “The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19). Shortcuts, procrastination, and neglect often lead to far more work in the long run.

The book of Proverbs especially cautions against the way of an adulteress: her beauty, her smooth tongue, her dress, her flirtatiousness, her persuasiveness, and even her ability to justify her behavior: “This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong’” (30:20). Remember, “Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death” (7:27). “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house” (5:8). That includes electronic roads!

Proverbs 5:21 reminds us that God sees all our ways. Which way are you going?

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