Proverbs 2:10-13 "When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness."
In this second half of the chapter, Solomon is going to describe the real threat to his son’s success. He doesn’t list modern inventions or growing technology. He doesn’t list unhealthy foods or questionable medical practices. He doesn’t list hobbies, activities or education. Instead, he describes people – a man in verses 12-15 and a woman in verses 16-20. By far, people are the greatest threats to our spiritual success. By a longshot, men and women are the greatest threats to the spiritual success of our sons and daughters.
In verse 12, Solomon identifies the type of man that poses the greatest amount of danger to Rehoboam – it is an “evil man.” In verse 13, we learn more about this type of man and more specifically, we learn about his background. At some point in his life, this evil man left the paths of uprightness in order to walk in the ways of darkness. When describing the woman that posed Rehoboam the greatest amount of danger, Solomon revealed a similar detail about her background. In verse 17, Solomon writes of this woman, “which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.” At some point in her life, this evil woman forsook and forgot the God of her youth. In this proverb, both evil people share the same background – it is a spiritual background. At some earlier point in his life, this man was on the paths of uprightness. At some earlier point in her life, this woman was guided by God.
These are no small details for they tell us who pose us and our children the greatest amount of spiritual danger – it tells us that people who once walked with God but who no longer do so are very dangerous. Rebellious men are far more dangerous than ignorant men. A man who was once on the paths of uprightness knows the terminology of the paths of uprightness. A man who was once on the paths of uprightness knows the mindset of those on the paths of uprightness. He knows the expectations and the temptations of those on the paths of uprightness. His experience and familiarity with the paths of uprightness makes him a serious threat to those on that bright path. Being intimately familiar with what led to his departure and rebellion, he would be equipped with the insight necessary to lure others from those same paths. This is precisely why Solomon wanted his son to get the discretion necessary to avoid becoming prey to these spiritual predators.
If Solomon was anything, he was observant. His proverbs, songs and Book of Ecclesiastes reveal his constant and careful observation of life, specifically of people. For this reason, he can and should be considered a pure realist. He knew the tendencies of people and he knew the spiritual nature of mankind. His writings didn’t originate by ideology in some cave – they were inspired by observation in a tower with a panoramic view of society. When he wrote the words of Proverbs 2, he wrote them with firsthand experience of an “evil man,” a man who happened to be an older brother. Absalom was born to the same father in the same God-saturated society of Israel at a time when the words of Moses were honored and obeyed. Absalom was taught everything that Solomon was taught. He was reared the same way that Solomon was reared. But unlike Solomon, there came a point in Absalom’s life where he left the paths of uprightness in order to walk in the ways of darkness. There came a point in Absalom’s life where he forsook the God of his youth. Playing God and king, he took the law into his own hands and killed a man that he felt escaped justice. Unable to rule his spirit in the face of human offense and failure, Absalom chose to abandon the paths of uprightness.
After fleeing his father’s face, he was welcomed back into the land some time later. Back in the land however, he would pose his countrymen their greatest threat. Walking in the ways of darkness, he set out to steal his father’s throne and rise to power. Armed with the insight necessary to deceive thousands, he began to assemble his army of supporters. Knowing the mindset of those in David’s kingdom, he began to earn their trust. Knowing the feelings of those in David’s administration, he successfully appealed to their souls. Equipped with the experience necessary to recruit others to join him in the way of darkness, he tragically convinced thousands to leave the paths of uprightness. Absalom was the best candidate to get many more to leave the paths of uprightness because he was once there. As a result, many joined him in experiencing an early death.
Solomon wrote these words to Rehoboam with conviction because of personal observation. He would later write this proverb in 21:16, “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.”
Absalom certainly wasn’t the first to fit this profile. Satan has been so successful in seducing soul after soul to leave the paths of uprightness because he too was once on those beautiful paths. Having been the anointed cherub that covered the very throne of God, Satan knows the mindset of God Himself. Having spent so much time in the presence of God, Satan has intimate knowledge of God’s people. He knows exactly how to seduce, deceive and trick God’s people into leaving the paths of uprightness. No one knows better how to appeal to the Christian mind and soul. Like Absalom, Satan is not content to reside in the ways of darkness by himself. Like Absalom, he wants as many people to join him in his misery and darkness.
Rebellious men are far more dangerous than ignorant men. A rebellious person with a Christian background will know how to entrap a Christian. An evil person with a Christian background will know how to entice a believer. This is why bitter Christians are so dangerous. A bitter Christian won’t be content to be bitter by himself. A bitter Christian will use his background and experience with Christianity to corrupt a better Christian.
Many of the faith’s greatest enemies are men and women whose childhood was one of faith. Many of society’s most influential people are those who grew up in Christianity. Take pop-icon, Katy Perry for example. Perry grew up in a devoutly Christian home with parents who were pastors. As a teenager, she recorded her first gospel album but would later rise to fame with her mega hit, “I Kissed a Girl.” Promoting everything that the Bible condemns including homosexuality and witchcraft, Perry has clearly chosen to forsake the guide of her youth and leave the paths of uprightness. Armed with a spiritual background and intimate knowledge of how many Christians think, Perry poses a tremendous spiritual threat to Christians, especially to young Christians. Being the first person to reach 100 million followers on Twitter and presently enjoying 107 million followers, Perry has more influence in the world than any godly man or woman.
The stage and the screen are filled with influential people who have a spiritual background but have no intent to promote Biblical Christianity. In fact, it is rather shocking to hear how many celebrities spent time in a church choir growing up but have done nothing since but influence members of the church choir to leave the paths of uprightness. I think it would surprise most to hear that Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, John Legend, British Rocker Simon Le Bon, Usher, Rapper Brandy Norwood, Little Richard, Punk-Rocker Avril Lavigne, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Hip-Hopper Faith Evans and many more grew up singing in the choir. Members of the Gothic American rock band, Evanescence actually met at a Christian youth camp.
Solomon promoted the pursuit of wisdom so that his son wouldn’t be a victim of evil men and women, those who would use their spiritual background to recruit his son to a dark direction. Wisdom allows us and our children to identify evil intents and motives. It enables us to see through crafty words and deceptive lines of reasoning. It delivers us from evil men and keeps us on the paths of uprightness. Wisdom teaches us that a common background doesn’t mean a common bond.