Proverbs 19:16

ESV Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life; he who despises his ways will die.
NIV Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life, but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.
NASB One who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But one who is careless of conduct will die.
CSB The one who keeps commands preserves himself; one who disregards his ways will die.
NLT Keep the commandments and keep your life; despising them leads to death.
KJV He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.

What does Proverbs 19:16 mean?

The book of Proverbs typically presents wisdom and good sense in terms of godliness (Proverbs 1:7; 3:5–8). This perspective helps keep a person from both earthly and eternal troubles (Proverbs 2:16–19; 8:34–36; 14:12). In this case, the reference is much more generic. Solomon's advice here is about the concept of following directions, overall (Proverbs 13:13). Failure to follow the instructions associated with machinery, medicines, chemicals, or tools can lead to injury or death. There is, in fact, a "right way" to use certain things and to accomplish certain tasks. A person who pays no attention to such things is at risk of disaster (Proverbs 19:8).

Solomon specifically credits God's Word with preserving life (Proverbs 10:27; 14:27). Aligning behavior with Scripture keeps a person from destructive situations. By obeying God's Word, the believer stays clear of immoral situations that drag people down spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. He enjoys a more peaceful life. Psalm 119:163–165 reveals a link between obedience to God's Word and peace by stating: "I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law. Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble." However, those who care nothing about obeying God's Word pursue a dangerous, destructive path.

All too often, the consequences of ignorance and hard-headedness are dire. In a spiritual setting, these consequences can be eternal. Proverbs 29:1 provides a strong warning: "He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing."
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