What does Proverbs 1:18 mean?
ESV: but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives.
NIV: These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves!
NASB: But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives.
CSB: but they set an ambush to kill themselves; they attack their own lives.
NLT: But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed.
KJV: And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
Verse Commentary:
Solomon reinforces the concept that those who plan to do evil will undoubtedly harm themselves. These people are out for selfish gain, and they will meet a selfish end. The trap that they set for others, in the end, will tangle them up. This is a major theme of biblical morality: nobody "gets away with it." Trying to get ahead by defying God will only lead to disaster (Mark 8:36). All sin will be punished, and only the gospel gives us a means to avoid the fate we deserve.

In a more immediate context, Solomon is highlighting the fact that getting involved with sinners leads only to personal destruction. Falling into the temptations of sin never ends well, even when it seems to start well. No good can come from these wicked plans. Both the book of Proverbs and other Scriptures will emphasize the importance of choosing one's company very carefully (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33).
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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