Proverbs 2:20 "That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous."
Proverbs is a book of tremendous detail. Solomon was a man given to detail because he knew that details matter. The Devil is not the only one in the details – God is also in the details. In fact, they’re both in the details because the details matter. Because Solomon was given to detail, his books are heavy in detail. If his readers are not careful, they’ll miss the big picture. If his readers are not attentive, we’ll overlook the primary lesson. Proverbs 2 is a chapter with a lot of important detail but a chapter that teaches a simple lesson through a series of steps. Solomon wanted his son to listen to his father so that he would eventually receive wisdom, which would lead to receiving wisdom’s offspring, discretion, which would then deliver him from evil men and evil woman in order to ultimately help him walk in the way of good men.
The primary objective for Solomon was not to achieve obedience in his son. It wasn’t to impart wisdom to his son nor was it to keep him from bad people. Solomon’s primary objective was to see Rehoboam walking in the way of good men. Listening to his father, receiving wisdom, getting discretion and avoiding evil people were only steps he needed to take to ultimately walk in the way of good men. Listening to our parents or avoiding evil individuals doesn’t automatically put us on the right path but they are steps that can get us and keep us on the right path. Many things have to be done in order to walk in the way of good men. The goal is not to listen carefully to our parents – the goal is to walk in the way of good men. Listening to our parents is a step we should take to help us meet our goal. The goal is not to avoid evil men and strange women – the goal is to walk in the way of good men. Getting wisdom, discretion and understanding is a step we should take to help us meet that goal.
Much of Proverbs 2 lists and explains the details leading up to the primary goal that Solomon was pursuing for his son. The details are incredibly important but let not the reader get distracted from the primary objective at hand.
Solomon made this his objective for good reason. This became his parental goal because of his intimate relationship with God. Solomon’s life was defined and shaped by what happen to him in Gibeon as a young king. In 1 Kings 3:3, the Bible tells us that “Solomon loved the LORD” and that at the time, he was “walking in the statutes of David his father.” 1 Kings 3 goes on to record a conversation that God initiated with Solomon, one that would set him on a path to success. In that conversation, God said these words, “If thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days” (1 Kings 3:14). The young king heard God loud and clear. He understood how much weight God placed on the path a man walked. He realized the direction a man took in life would be the deciding factor in how God treated him. If the son of David walked in the way of his father’s righteousness, God would “lengthen his days.” If he walked in a way that went contrary to a good man like David, God would not bless him. God told Solomon that his father blazed a path for him to follow, a path that would lead to great blessing.
We know that this conversation in Gibeon had a major impact on Solomon because of what he would pray decades later in 1 Kings 8. After completing the Temple, Solomon prayed these words, “Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me” (1 Kings 8:25). Solomon clearly remembered the connection a person’s walk and God’s blessings had. Solomon would be reminded of this connection once more in 1 Kings 9 when God appeared to him the second time saying, “If thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked…THEN I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever” (1 Kings 9:4-5). It was abundantly clear to Solomon what mattered most to God. It was also abundantly clear to Solomon what the right path looked like because of how frequently God attached David to that path. By attaching David to the right path, there would be no room for misinterpretation or ignorance of what that path was. Solomon knew what direction he needed to head in if he was going to have success in God’s eyes and experience God’s greatest blessings – in his father, David’s direction.
The history behind Proverbs 2 helps us appreciate the primary objective of its author. Solomon wanted Rehoboam to walk in the way of good men because he knew that was the path that would bring his son God’s blessings. Rehoboam needed to listen to his father in order to get the wisdom that would give him the discretion necessary to deliver him from the evil men and women that would pull him off the way of good men. The emphasis of this chapter is not family dynamics or social relationships – it is doing whatever it takes to walk in the way of good men, in the way of David and other good men.
In stating his desire for Rehoboam, Solomon mentioned walking in the way of GOOD MEN so his son would focus on the examples set before him. He didn’t tell him to be original. He didn’t tell him to be different. He didn’t tell him to be himself. He didn’t even tell him to walk in the God’s ways, although that was obviously implied. He wanted him to walk in the way of good men because he knew there were only two ways in walk in – in the ways of good men or in the ways of bad men. This is exactly how the kings of Israel were judged. The Bible records men walking in the way of David or walking in the way of Jeroboam. When men did evil in the sight of the Lord, they were described as walking in the way of Jeroboam, an evil man. When men did right in the sight of the Lord, they were described as walking in the way of David, a good man. Those who walked in the way of David inherited the pleasure and blessing of God. Those who walked in the way of Jeroboam inherited the anger of God.
We need not to be heirs of Israel’s crown to make perfect application. God deals with us based on what path we take in life. We’re either on the path of the righteous or on the path of the unrighteous. We’re either walking in the way of good men or we’re walking in the way of evil men. No one blazes a new path. No one pioneers a new way. There are only two choices going in two very different directions with two very different consequences. There are many variations of each path but there are only two paths. The choice is entirely ours.
Which path are you presently on? If you’re not sure what path you’re on, evaluate that path by who else is on that path. If you’re not sure what way you’re walking, ask yourself who you most look like or who you most walk like. The type of person you’re surrounded by will typically tell you which path you’re on. The type of person you’re most similar to will typically identify which way you’re walking. The type of person you’re mimicking or becoming will tell you which direction you’re going.
If you’re on the wrong path, turn the spiritual steering wheel around and go in the right direction – the direction of good men. If you’re walking in the way of good men and good women, “keep the paths of the righteous.” When your life is over, you want God to say of you, “he walked in the way of David” or “she walked in the way of Hannah.” One of the main reasons God gave us a book of stories, a book of characters is that we know what direction we’re heading in. Through the lives and characters of the Bible we can identify whose lives we’re following and mimicking. Who do you look like? Whose path are you following? May our primary objective in life be to walk in the way of the good men and good women in Scripture. May our primary objective in life be to walk in the way of the good men and good women in Church history. May our primary objective in life be to walk in the way of the good men and good women in our own church’s history.