Proverbs 4:12

ESV When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble.
NIV When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
NASB When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; And if you run, you will not stumble.
CSB When you walk, your steps will not be hindered; when you run, you will not stumble.
NLT When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble.
KJV When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.

What does Proverbs 4:12 mean?

The way of wisdom is safe. Wisdom keeps those who possess it from getting tripped and stumbling. As used in the book of Proverbs, "wisdom" is an ability to apply godly knowledge. Scripture, including this very book, acknowledges that wisdom is not a magical talisman that prevents all possible harms (Proverbs 3:25–26). However, common sense makes it clear that how we live—the choices we make—have a drastic influence on the length and quality of our lives. This is why Scripture refers to life using the metaphor of a "path." Ungodly attitudes create a dark, jagged, rocky path with many risks. Seeking the Lord makes life's road comparatively straight and clear (Proverbs 3:6).

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, he wanted to draw them back to correct doctrine. False teachers had sneaked into the churches of Galatia. They had successfully persuaded believers there that it was necessary to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. Paul asked the Galatians: "You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?" (Galatians 5:7). The word translated "hindered" evokes a runner being tripped. False teaching had caused the Galatian believers to stumble. Wisdom would have averted their stumbling.

Contrasting what happened to the Galatians, the "wise" person—the one who acts according to godly knowledge—will not be hampered, meaning his path will not be constricted. He will not experience the same pains and sorrows that lie in the path of the wicked.
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