What does Proverbs 1:16 mean?
ESV: for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
NIV: for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood.
NASB: For their feet run to evil, And they are quick to shed blood.
CSB: because their feet run toward evil and they hurry to shed blood.
NLT: They rush to commit evil deeds. They hurry to commit murder.
KJV: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
NKJV: For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood.
Verse Commentary:
This warning is a reference back to verses 11–14. Even though the lures are tempting, the type of people who run to evil will take you down with them. There is no honor among thieves. They will do anything to get ahead, including shedding blood, even your blood. Those who persist in willful evil should be avoided at all costs. While this might seem like common sense, Solomon's warning is meant to expose how even the worst sinners will tempt others to join them.

Even when the stakes are not as high—or don't seem to be—this principle still applies. The book of Proverbs will explore this idea again (Proverbs 13:20). The New Testament gives similar advice, from the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:33: "Bad company ruins good morals." This is why Solomon warns to not even walk a single step in that path. Every moment spent with those who are trying to tempt you to evil is another moment closer to spiritual and tangible ruin.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 1:8–19 is a warning against foolishness and the allure of sinful behavior. Solomon begins this warning by appealing to his children to honor their parents' teaching. As any parent knows, it’s often best to outline a negative behavior before stating the consequences of that behavior. The example used seems extreme, but it is meant to point towards an obvious conclusion.
Chapter Summary:
Proverbs Chapter 1 provides a clear description of the purpose of the book. It is stated plainly who wrote the book, the lineage of Solomon, and to whom he was writing. Solomon gives four distinct purpose statements in the opening verses. The essence of these is to explain why he is writing the book as well as the source of his inspiration. Solomon concludes with a warning against sinfulness and a personal plea for his children to act wisely.
Chapter Context:
Proverbs Chapter 1 is clearly born out of Solomon’s life history. Solomon held himself back from no earthly pleasure, he had everything he could ever desire, and in the end he saw the foolishness of his actions. Chapter 1 is Solomon’s reflection on his own life, how he had all the wisdom of God available to him, and yet chose to follow after foolish desires. Other chapters detail the advice which this experience allows Solomon to give.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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