Proverbs 4:14

ESV Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.
NIV Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.
NASB Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil people.
CSB Keep off the path of the wicked; don't proceed on the way of evil ones.
NLT Don’t do as the wicked do, and don’t follow the path of evildoers.
KJV Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

What does Proverbs 4:14 mean?

Fathers often pass along advice to their sons based on painful personal experience. This was probably the case with Solomon, even in these words. Though gifted with wisdom (1 Kings 3:5–15), Solomon did not always follow it (1 Kings 11:4), though he lived to see the error of his ways (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

This is especially valuable advice for those who are young. Solomon warns not to "enter the path of the wicked" or "walk in the way of the evil." It's important not to miss a key word—"the"—in that statement. This specific warning is about "the evil," meaning "those who are evil," rather than just evil in general. The danger spoken of here is about relationships.

Earlier in Proverbs he gave similar counsel by saying, "My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent" (Proverbs 1:10). Jesus taught that there are two paths through life, and every person must choose which path he will follow. He reinforced Solomon's advice about not entering the path of the wicked. In Matthew 7:13–14 he said, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

Peer pressure may draw even believers into the path of evil, but believers must exercise faith and obedience to avoid wrongdoing and its consequences. It is dangerous, and foolish, to think we can "play along" with wickedness and not be caught in the consequences (Proverbs 13:20).
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