Study 3 TWO PATHWAYS AND TWO DESTINIES
TEN STUDIES IN PROVERBS
by Francis Dixon
(Key-verses: Proverbs 4:18-19)
These words of wise Solomon place before us a vivid contrast between the path of the righteous and the way of the wicked. They tell us that from God’s standpoint there are only two classes of people in the world: the righteous and the wicked. The righteous are those who are right with God, and the wicked are those who are wrong before God. There are only two classes - the saved and the lost (Luke 19:10); believers and unbelievers (Acts 28:24); sons of God and objects of wrath (Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 2:3). We need to stop and ask ourselves to which class we belong.
1. The Righteous are in the minority; the Wicked are in the majority
Notice that our key-verses speak of the “path” of the righteous, and the “way” of the wicked. Is there any difference, and if so, what is it? The Lord Jesus spoke of the broad and the narrow ways (Matthew 7:13-14), and He said there would be many on the broad and few on the narrow. Our first great truth is this: the righteous are in the minority and it has always been so; it was with Noah, when after 120 years of warning only eight souls were saved (1 Peter 3:20); in the case of wicked Sodom when only a few escaped God’s judgment (Genesis 19:23-25); in the days of the Psalmist and of the Prophets - look up the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 20:16, and compare Luke 13:23. Today Christians are very much in the minority and the crowd are on the broad way. The tragedy is that those who are on the broad way think that because they are among the majority it must be the right way, but it is easy to be beguiled by numbers. It is always a danger to go with the crowd - look up Proverbs 14:12.
2. The Righteous are in the light; the Wicked are in a state of darkness
The Christian is in the light and the unbeliever is in the dark. ”The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn” (verse 18) - that is the experience of every born again person; but how different and how solemn is the condition of those who do not know the Lord! – “the way of the wicked is like deep darkness”. Christians are in the light because they have come to know and trust the Lord Jesus who said - look up John 8:12, and they have been rescued from darkness and brought into light (Colossians 1:12-13). But how dark is the spiritual condition of every man who is without Christ! (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan is keeping millions around us in a state of spiritual darkness, and the first thing that happens when we pass from ”the way of the wicked” to ”the path of the righteous” is that the light of the gospel of Christ shines into our hearts - look up 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 2:9. Along which road are you travelling? – the road of light or the road leading to eternal darkness? – look up Jude 13.
3. The path of the Righteous gets brighter; the way of the Wicked gets darker
What a contrast we have here! Here is the Christian: he has a little light at first, and then as he gets to know the Lord the light increases. That is the Christian experience. In contrast, ”the wicked… do not know what makes them stumble”. Why do they stumble? Why do people who are not Christians stumble? The reason is that they are in darkness. The one who is not a Christian stumbles through life; he hopes for the best but he has no real anchor, and certainly he has no eternal hope (Ephesians 2:12). What a bleak experience this is! Thank God, there is a Guide who waits to lead the stumbling souls around us, and if only they will put their hands into His hand He will most surely guide them, just as He does every one of His children (Psalm 37:23). That wonderful Guide waits to take your hand, if you will yield it to Him, and He waits to lead you through all the intricate pathways of life until at last you enter into His presence.
4. The Righteous have a glorious prospect; the Wicked have a terrible prospect
The righteous are travelling on to a perfect day. What is that perfect day? - look up John 14:2-3. One translation of our key-verse reads: ‘The wicked shall be silent in darkness’, and that surely speaks of judgment (Matthew 8:12; Revelation 16:10). On which road are you travelling? - the road that has a glorious prospect, or the road that has a terrible prospect?
It is so easy to read these words and to feel impressed with the seriousness of this matter, and yet to put off the vital decision which the Holy Spirit is urging you to make. For the sake of the Saviour who loved you and gave Himself for your salvation, for the sake of your friends and loved ones who will be so powerfully influenced by your attitude towards Christ, and for your own sake - if you are not a Christian will you join the minority now and experience the joy and peace of sins forgiven and the hope of Heaven? Open your heart to the Saviour and receive Him. Ask Him to take full possession of your life (Revelation 3:20). Do it now! Settle the matter once and for all, and travel on to the perfect day.
In conclusion, read Psalm 1, which is a very striking commentary on these verses, and which emphasises the same truths:-
- “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”