Keeping One’s Soul
Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward:
A. The Froward
1. Froward defined:
a. Strong’s: Twisted, (its root used of braided hair); distorted; crooked; perverse; perverted.
b. Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Morally crooked or warped; i.e., pertaining to what is distorted or perverted from a just, right condition.
c. It is translated variously in this verse: froward, perverse, crooked, corrupt.
2. Froward described:
a. Prov. 2:15 – “whose ways are crooked” (same word).
• The meaning is further amplified by a related term translated “froward” (a different Hebrew term) which means to “depart; to deviate; to be lost; to be led away from correct behavior; on the wrong path.”
• It describes a person whose ways are crooked… because he has deviated from the straight and narrow path… he is headed in the wrong direction.
• We all know folks on the wrong path… lost and headed in the wrong direction.
• We may know some believers whose lives are crooked… bent out of shape… deviated from the right pathway.
b. Psalm 101:4 – David did not want anyone with a crooked or perverse heart to be working with him in his royal court.
c. Prov. 11:20 – Those of a froward heart are an abomination to the Lord. Why? Because He has spoken. He has offered us His wisdom. He is pleading with us to follow His wisdom which will keep us on the right pathway. But if we CHOOSE to be froward and deviate from the straight and narrow—we have chosen to reject God, His Word, His wisdom, and His fellowship.
d. Prov. 17:20 – The man with a froward heart will not find good. He may search high and low, but will never be able to attain it. That is quite a statement!
e. Prov. 28:6 – The froward man may find great wealth and success in the world, but he will not find good. In reality, he is worse off than the poor man who maintains his integrity and does NOT deviate from the right pathway in life.
f. Prov. 19:1 – It is possible to be froward (twisted; crooked) in our speech. This froward man may be able to put up the appearance of walking the straight and narrow road… until he opens his mouth… and perversity flows out… crookedness flows out.
g. We can be froward in our ways, in our heart, and in our speech.
h. Prov. 8:8 – But there is no NEED to be crooked.
• Wisdom cries out and states that there is nothing “perverse” (same word as froward in 22:5) in her words.
• When we follow the wisdom of God’s Word we will NEVER be led astray.
• It always leads us in the right direction… when accurately interpreted and applied.
B. Thorns and Snares in the Way
a. Prov. 15:19 – “The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns.”
• Thorns were considered an obstacle.
• They would often grow in deep, thick hedges and would impede your progress as you were walking through the woods.
b. Num. 33:55 – If the children of Israel did not drive out all of the Canaanites, they would become THORNS in their side.
• In other words, they would become a constant irritant to them… unending aggravation.
• The presence of the Canaanites in the land would also be an obstacle to Israel and would hinder their ability to settle down in the land and to rest under their fig trees.
c. The froward man who has chosen to walk in a crooked pathway… or speak with a crooked tongue… will find his life full of THORNS.
• He will find himself facing all kinds of difficult obstacles.
• The crooked pathway he has chosen will not be an easy route as he had hoped. It will become to him a constant irritant to them… unending aggravation… like a thorn in his side that doesn’t go away.
• He will be pestered, annoyed, hassled, and frustrated by the obstacles all along his crooked pathway.
• Prov. 13:15 – The way of the transgressor is HARD! Very often froward folks learn this lesson the hard way… and often after it is too late to do anything about it.
a. Snares are traps.
b. Prov. 7:23 – The term “snare” is often used of a bird trap. Here the point is that the dumb bird runs straight for the trap, not realizing that it is for his life… it will be his END.
c. The froward think that they are cutting corners and taking a crooked path in order to make life easier, but they are dead wrong.
d. Ecc. 9:12 – Here the point is that snares or traps ensnare their victims suddenly and without warning. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
e. How many believers have deviated from the straight and narrow way by getting involved with drinking or drugs, having no idea that they were running straight into a trap… that has ensnared millions. And just because a doctor prescribes a drug does not mean that we SHOULD take it. Many people become snared by LEGAL drugs with legal prescriptions—like Michael Jackson… and Rush Limbaugh… and multiple thousands of others.
f. For others their trap may be pornography; for others it is just the pursuit of pleasure which can also be a trap.
g. I Tim. 6:9 – It could be the pursuit of money…
h. Traps come in all sizes, shapes, and styles and dangle various kinds of bait to lure us in.
i. Our old nature continually devises a barrel full of reasons and justifications for deviating from the straight and narrow. Solomon warns us here of the DANGER involved.
j. That so called “short cut” or “easy route” leads to disaster. It may become a thorn in your side that you might have to live with for the rest of your life. It may be a sudden trap that ensnares you… and from which you are unable to escape.
3. There are thorns and snares in the way of the froward man.
A. He That Keeps his Soul
1. Keep Defined: Keep: guard; pay attention to; watch; observe; be careful; preserve; care for.
a. It is used of “keeping the garden.” (Gen. 2:15)
b. It is used of “keeping a house.” (II Sam. 15:16)
c. It is used of “keeping a flock.” (Gen. 30:31)
d. The basic idea of the root is “to exercise great care over.”
3. Thus, Solomon is speaking here about the man who “exercises great care over” his own soul.
a. The soul can refer simply to creature life… animated life.
b. It can also refer to the heart, the inner self, i.e., the essence of life, including thoughts, feelings, desire… the inner man… intellect, emotion, and will.
c. Prov. 4:23 – Keep your heart will all diligence. (Though the terms are different, this is quite similar in meaning to “keeping your soul.”
4. The man who keeps his heart with all diligence… and keeps his soul… and refuses to deviate onto a crooked pathway will be FAR FROM the thorns and snares encountered by the froward man.
a. The man who is diligent about his pathway in life finds that all the diligence and hard work pays off in the end.
b. It might SEEM like the narrow road that he took was the HARD road… the more difficult route.
c. However, Solomon states that although the narrow road requires diligence… in the long run, it is actually EASIER!
d. It is free from many of the thorny hedges that impede the progress of the pathway the froward man took.
e. He does not have to deal with the constant irritations, aggravation, and hassles that the froward man has dogging him the rest of his life. The way of the transgressor is hard.
f. But the road that initially SEEMS most difficult is actually the easier route to take.
g. It is FAR from the thorns and snares on the crooked road.
5. The contrast in this proverb is between the froward man (who deviates from the straight and narrow way) and the man who exercises great care over his life.
a. The froward man is NOT careful. He does not guard his soul… or pay close attention to his life.
b. He is careless, inattentive, and reckless. As a result, he ends up dealing the consequences of thorns and snares.
c. But the man who pays close attention to the route he takes, carefully maps out each step, and is observant, and keeps his inner life right before God will discover that the road he chose was free from the strife and troubles that many others have to deal with.
d. It is a much preferred route.
e. Prov. 22:3 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”
f. Prov. 16:17 – “He that keepeth his way preserveth his soul” from many dangers, toils, and snares that hound those who do NOT keep their heart… and their way.