What does Proverbs 4:27 mean?
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.
NKJV: Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 4:20–27 concludes the chapter with Solomon telling his son how to live. This follows earlier explanations of advice his own father, David, gave to him. Emphasis here is on the attitude of the heart, the focus of the eyes, and the direction of the feet. This begins with a pattern seen many other places in Proverbs: an encouragement to value godly wisdom.
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 5/28/2024 7:46:27 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.