Proverbs 4:27

ESV Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
NIV Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
NASB Do not turn to the right or to the left; Turn your foot from evil.
CSB Don't turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.
NLT Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.
KJV Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

What does Proverbs 4:27 mean?

Chapter 4 of Proverbs concludes on a cautionary note. Solomon wants his son not to swerve from the God-intended path to the right or to the left. He commands his son to turn away from evil. The importance of not being pulled astray was a lesson Solomon learned, painfully, in his own life (1 Kings 11:4). It was later, writing the book of Ecclesiastes, that he expressed how important it was to honor God above all else (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

The reference to avoid turning either left or right is more than just added words. There is danger in any alteration of what God reveals. We are not doing "better" as servants of the Lord by adding more and more rules or laws, for example. This was a mistake made by the Pharisees of Jesus' era (Matthew 23:2–4; Mark 7:8–9). God does not say, "don't stray from the path unless it's in this direction." He says we're not to veer from His wisdom, at all.

Samson was a Nazarite, dedicated to serve the Lord all the days of his life. As a Nazarite, he was not supposed to shave or cut his hair, drink wine or strong drink, or eat anything unclean (Judges 13:5–7). But in adulthood, Samson strayed from his Nazarite relationship with the Lord. He married heathen women, one of whom was Delilah, who cut off his hair while he slept in her lap (Judges 16:19). As a result, Samson fell prey to the Philistines, who blinded him, bound him, forced him to grind at the prison's mill, and made sport of him (Judges 16:21–25).

If we do not want to disgrace the Lord and ourselves, we will heed Solomon's advice to refuse to stray from the path of righteousness. When tempted to sin, that advice helps us to not fall into sin, but to obey God's Word and do His will (1 Corinthians 10:13).
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