Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.
This proverb has the similar message of 22:3: "The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it." The new contrast is between the crooked (the wicked) and the righteous who take care to guard their souls. But the results are the same. Like the simple, the crooked find trouble in the path they have chosen to take. Like the prudent, the righteous is alert to where danger lurks and stays away from it.
One might say that the crooked and simple are the more daring, while the prudent and righteous are afraid to be risk-takers. Yet at the heart of both proverbs is not about being daring but being foolish. The simple is foolish in his estimate of the danger; the crooked is foolish in choosing a path that is wicked. The prudent and the righteous are both wise in sizing up danger and honorable in choosing what risk to take.
One man walks into a seedy neighborhood thinking that he can flirt with danger and temptation. Another walks into the same neighborhood to befriend someone, well aware of the danger but more intent to do what is right. Both take risks. Both put themselves in situations where trouble could come. But who is more likely to get into further trouble?
The simple and the crooked are lured by the excitement of temptation. That is why they fail to see their danger. That is why obstacles keep popping up. Their eyes are fixed on sin. The eyes of the prudent and the righteous are fixed on Christ, which makes them all the more alert to the greatest danger – the attacks against their souls.
Remember the greatest danger before you today. It is not that you might get hit by a car or robbed. It is that situations will catch you off guard and lead you to sin. Satan is not so interested in making you physically suffer; as revealed with Job, what he wants is to lead you astray. Be alert to the real enemy and the real danger.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org