What does Proverbs 4:14 mean?
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.
NKJV: Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil.
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 4:10–19 contains both positive and negative counsel: ''do'' and ''do not'' statements. Solomon urges his son to choose the positive path of wisdom and avoid the negative ways of wickedness. Those caught in evil are portrayed as overcome, addicted, and desperate. Solomon concludes this section by comparing the path of the righteous to bright light and the way of the wicked to deep darkness.
Chapter Summary:
Common for the first nine chapters of Proverbs, Solomon urges his sons—possibly also other students—to listen to his words. He recalls his early years, when he heard some of these words from his father, David. Wisdom is upheld as the most beneficial thing a person can acquire in life. It brings honor and safety. In contrast, the wicked are perpetual wrongdoers whose goal is to lead others astray. They live for wickedness and violence, and they stumble in the darkness. Solomon urges his sons not to deviate from the path of godly wisdom, either ''to the right or to the left.''
Chapter Context:
The first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs focus on extolling the value of godly wisdom. In this chapter King Solomon continues to pass along this message to his son. His advice to his sons—possibly also meaning his students—in chapter 4 is similar to what he says in Proverbs 1:8–9; 2:1–6; 3:1–2, 21–26; 5:1–2; 6:20–22; 7:1–3, 24; and 8:22–36. The words of this chapter are partly taken from advice Solomon recalls hearing from his own father, David.
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.
Accessed 4/23/2024 7:32:09 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.