Summary: These proverbs warn of and against those who plan and speak trouble.
We have had proverbs about sweet talking. Now they turn to bad breath.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
With apologies to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, let me read (not sing!) a famous song that this proverb sets itself against.
And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.
I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.
I've loved, I've laughed and cried.
I've had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.
To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
"No, oh no not me,
I did it my way".
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!
This song could be the anthem of modern man. Is there anything more important, more glorious than going through life our way? Is there anything more terrible than not living by the expectations of other people? According to our proverb, we might want to consider how important death is. In this case, it means spiritual, or utter death, not merely the passing of mortal life. Imagine a student pilot refusing to listen to his instructor, telling him, “I’ve got to fly my way.” As he dives to the ground, do you think he comforts himself by saying, “At least I did it my way”? When the author of the song faces the final curtain and states his case of which he is certain, do you think he really will be so certain as he stands before God the Judge?
Often there is a way that seems right but ends in trouble and even death. All the more reason we need to go beyond what seems right and look to better guidance. For the scripture writers that means going to God’s Law or Word. Psalm 119:105 sums it up well: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Sometimes God’s Word may not be specific enough for a decision we must make. In such a case, Proverbs would have us seek counsel: Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed (15:22).
The point is this. We’ve got to take into account that we are creatures of the Fall. We live in a fallen world and are ourselves “bent,” as we would be described in C. S. Lewis’ world of Malacandra. What seems right may very well be the course that leads to death, because the world itself is out of kilter and sets up illusions for us as to what is important, as our song demonstrates. Furthermore, our hearts are tainted with corruption so that, in contrast to what our culture teaches us is the one thing we can trust – viz., the heart – is what we must be most careful to examine to see if it is trustworthy. And then there is Satan and his forces who are clever and seek through subtle means to lead us astray.
26 A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
Our appetite motivates us to produce. At its basic meaning, hunger will drive even the laziest of persons to work to satisfy his hunger pain. How can you get a stubborn mule to walk? Hold an apple in front of him. It is a basic principle that success is predicated on hunger. It has become a sports cliché. Who will be the winner depends on who wants to win the most, who is the hungriest.
If appetite is a powerful motivator to work, then the control of one’s appetite is important. The degree of the appetite and the direction of the appetite must be considered. An appetite for food is essential for getting the proper nutrients for our bodies. A person with a poor appetite is likely to be malnourished. However, too strong of an appetite can lead to overeating with the health problems it brings. Likewise, a poor appetite for what makes a comfortable and secure life can lead to poor work habits, leaving individuals and their families in poor conditions. But too great an appetite for wealth and luxury can lead to out-of-whack work practices and the breakup of relationships. Too little an appetite and too much of one each brings their share of troubles, whatever the appetite is for. That is the point of Proverbs 30:7-9: