Watch the path of your feet
Proverbs 4:26-27 There is a way that our life can change direction positively — to align all of our actions with God’s will.
“Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.”
Proverbs 4:26-27 NASB1995
We’re back again in Proverbs, which I have to admit made me very happy. Both the Psalms and Proverbs contain so much condensed wisdom that I find myself eager to study them in detail when God points me in their direction.
an exhortation to acquire wisdom (verses 1–4a),
a list of the benefits of wisdom (4b–9),
a call to pursue a righteous lifestyle (10–13),
a warning against a wicked lifestyle (14–19), and
an exhortation to righteousness (20–27).
By the time we get to verses 26-27, Solomon has told his listeners/readers to seek wisdom because of its many benefits, told them to pursue righteousness and avoid wickedness, and is now summing up the difference between the two paths.
The verse starts with the admonition to watch the path of your feet. Watch comes from the Hebrew word פַּלֵּס (pālas), which means to weigh, make level, and then to ponder. While the root word appears to describe weighing something with an old style balance scale, here it is used to describe keeping a level path — figuratively meaning “live a righteous life”.
The Hebrew word for the path is מַעְגַּל (ma ‘gāl), with the meaning of an “entrenchment or track”. In the 9th Century BC when this was written, there were two ways to travel on land — by foot, or by cart. The carts left a rut or path, and that’s what people would follow when walking from one town to the next. Taken together, the idea of the first sentence is to make straight and level wheel tracks for your feet — in other words, live in the right way!
Following that path establishes your ways — your life and lifestyle choices — so that you live righteously. Solomon then advises turning neither right nor left, but staying on that righteous road. In Hebrew, the word used for turn is נָטָה (nāṭâ), a verb that has the meaning “leaning or inclining”.
We can think of Proverbs 4:27 as telling us not to lean in the direction of a bad habit or an outright sin. I found this comment from Precept Austin to be useful — “Remember if you lean too much, you may end up taking a serious fall!”
Also from the same commentary on Precept Austin are these wise words about the last part of these verses:
Here is the point - To not turn to the right or left and so to stay on the path of righteousness, we must make the conscious choice to turn away from evil, even the suggestion of evil. So the command is to keep from "swerving" off the "highway of holiness" one must assiduously avoid evil!
If we are going to turn, that turn should be away from evil — staying on the path of righteousness. In this last sentence, the Hebrew word used for turn is different from before — הָסֵר (sûr) — meaning in this case “to change direction, to turn away, to quit, or to keep far away”. Turning away from sin, quitting destructive habits, and keeping far away from bad influences is moving in a good direction.
There is a way that our life can change direction positively — to align all of our actions with God’s will.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Lord, thank You for guiding me in your wisdom and truth. Help me to carefully consider the paths for my life and to follow You in all ways. Keep me from following the ways of evil, and may Your Word be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.