What does Proverbs 2:20 mean?
ESV: So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.
NIV: Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.
NASB: So you will walk in the way of good people And keep to the paths of the righteous.
CSB: So follow the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the righteous.
NLT: So follow the steps of the good, and stay on the paths of the righteous.
KJV: That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.
NKJV: So you may walk in the way of goodness, And keep to the paths of righteousness.
Verse Commentary:
Verse 19 was extremely ominous, and for good reason. Those who fall into the seduction of sin are being led toward death. This is the inevitable, ultimate consequence of forsaking God. In contrast to that dire warning, verse 20 offers some measure of comfort. There is a way to avoid this fate, and the lessons of Proverbs are meant to help us in that very way.

Later on in Proverbs, Solomon will tell his children to train their children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Here Solomon models that very approach for us. He has given all the warnings; he has outlined the training they should follow; and rather than following sin down to death, they should walk in the way of good men. Paul states it this way, "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13–14). We are to live a virtuous life, one marked by righteousness. We should carry on the traits of wisdom, courage, justice, and integrity.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 2:16–22 focuses on the virtue philosophers such as Plato refer to as integrity, which is better labelled as temperance. This virtue is more than doing what is right even when no one is looking, which is how we often define integrity. Rather, it is also keeping ourselves from situations where we might be tempted to do wrong. In the modern sense, integrity is marked by what you do, while temperance is marked by using other virtues to avoid negative situations. For instance, Paul warns how being drunk leads to debauchery (Ephesians 5:18). A person exhibiting temperance might restrict or eliminate use of alcohol, thereby avoiding drunkenness and therefore, avoiding debauchery. This can be stated succinctly as a man mastering or controlling himself (James 3). This passage contrasts the outcome of not controlling oneself against the benefit of living with integrity.
Chapter Summary:
In Proverbs chapter 2, Solomon highlights various virtues, as well as provides encouragement to live a virtuous life. As in chapter 1, specific concepts wil reoccur, and are used in certain ways. Here, these are ideas such as courage, integrity, wisdom, and justice. The gist of this passage is the positive effect that virtue—including these various aspects—will have on one's life. In contrast, those who pursue non-virtuous living will suffer dire consequences.
Chapter Context:
The overarching theme of Proverbs chapter 2 is the relationship between virtue and discernment. As described here, virtuous living is moral living. As a person strives to live a moral life, he or she develops a greater ability to discern right from wrong. Further, beyond simple matters of right and wrong, as virtue grows within a person, he or she becomes more proficient at discerning trickier situations. Real life predicaments often present two or more seemingly valid options. Discernment, then, also includes determining which of many different options is actually best. Likewise, many life situations appear to offer only a variety of bad options. There, discernment is once again required, to determine which option presents the correct choice, or to recognize where a ''good'' option has been hidden.
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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