Excellence vs. Seduction
1. The contrast, once again, is between the righteous and the wicked.
2. Exactly WHAT is being contrasted is not apparent in the first part of the verse.
a. The righteous is more excellent…
b. But in what WAY is he more excellent? HOW is he more excellent? In what AREA is he more excellent?
c. If this proverb is to be of any practical value to us, then we need to probe into this contrast…
d. By God’s grace, that’s what we are going to attempt tonight.
1. The righteous man: who is he?
a. Righteous: just, righteous (in conduct and character); right, correct, lawful; righteous (as justified and vindicated by God).
b. The emphasis is on a man who is right with GOD… and whose practical life demonstrates it…
c. In other words, he is righteous judicially (justified by faith) AND his lifestyle is right and lawful.
2. The righteous man is contrasted to his wicked neighbor.
a. But in what WAY is he more excellent? HOW is he more excellent?
b. To answer that, the second ½ of the proverb must be considered.
c. As is so often the case in proverbs, the proverb is broken into two sections—and one cannot be understood without the other.
3. The contrasts:
a. Righteous and wicked men
b. Their “ways” (second half)
c. Seduction which results from their way (second half)
d. Nothing is said about the WAY of the righteous or his capacity to “seduce”… but the second half makes it clear what the proverb is contrasting.
e. Proverbs use words conservatively… short, succinct, yet powerful statements. The PUNCH that a proverb delivers comes in part because of its brevity. In boxing they might be likened to a quick jab to the gut… these are, in reality, quick jabs to the mind and heart.
4. The righteous are more excellent.
• Strong’s: searched out; sought out; spy; make a reconnaissance.
• It is used of the spies searching out the Promised Land.
• It is most often translated “spy, seek out, or search out” in the King James Version. (about 20 of the 25 occurrences)
• Dictionary of Biblical Languages: explore; investigate; search out; spy, i.e., try to find out information by traveling on foot;
• Dictionary of Biblical Languages: be cautious; formally; send out a spy; i.e., be sensible in the way one relates to a person, with a focus that one tries to learn information before joining in an association. (related to spying; searching)
b. In this context, the concept of searching out in order to be careful and cautious is the way Solomon describes the righteous man.
5. Solomon contrasts the WAY of the wicked and the WAY of the righteous.
a. The way of a righteous man is to be cautious… careful… he searches things out.
b. Acts 17:11 – He doesn’t BELIEVE whatever he hears preached from the Bible. He searches it out. He is careful with doctrine.
c. Prov. 18:17 – He doesn’t believe everything he hears through the grapevine. He searches it out. He waits to hear the other side of the story.
d. Prov. 15:28 – He is careful and cautious in his speech and his answers. The heart of the righteous studieth to answer.
e. Prov. 1:5 – He is cautious and careful in gathering as much wisdom and information as he can.
f. Prov. 11:14 – he searches out for addition counsel from wise men. The fool hates to listen to people giving advice…
g. Prov. 4:26 – he PONDERS his pathway… he studies the roadmap of God’s Word… he searches out the END of each possible route and decision he makes. He searches out the results of turning to the left… and he searches out the results of turning to the right… He searches out all possible options AND the result of each one. (Will this be good for my family and me spiritually?)
6. The way of the righteous is discerning; thoughtful; he has some DEPTH to him; he THINKS before he moves; he thinks before he speaks; he studies before he believes; he investigates both sides before he accepts or rejects.
a. In this way, he is more excellent than his neighbor.
b. Margin: abundant: he is richer, deeper, fuller in his thoughts and decisions… more abundant…
1. The WAY of the wicked…
a. WAY = (Hebrew = derek) — road; distance; journey; manner; conduct.
b. Wicked = guilty; criminal; guilty of sin against God.
c. The way of the wicked = his whole manner of life; the direction of his life; the pathway he is pursuing.
d. This way is contrasted to the way of the righteous man… who is headed down a very different road… a different lifestyle… different pursuits in life… a different manner of life altogether.
2. The way of the wicked in practical life…
a. The wicked do not investigate to see which way is pleasing to the Lord… which is the RIGHT way to go…
b. The wicked are often led by “what feels good”… by earthly advantage (like Lot choosing Sodom)… by ease—the pathway of least resistance… by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life… that’s their WAY of life.
3. The way of the wicked SEDUCETH them.
a. Seduce: Strong’s: to cause to err; wander; go astray; stagger; to wander about (physically); used of intoxication… to mislead mentally or morally.
b. The way of the wicked leads men astray…
• They themselves are led astray… and those who follow them are led astray.
• Their way may seem attractive and seductive—but it will lead you astray!
4. Examples of being seduced or led astray by the ways of the wicked…
a. Prov. 7:25-27 – sexually seducing…
• There are those who seek to lure believers into a life of sin…
• Hollywood movies and the pornography industry all lure men astray…
• This sort of thing can be life dominating…
• The way of the wicked is seductive—stay away!
b. Ps. 95:10 – erring in the heart… their hearts were seduced away from loving God wholeheartedly.
• The ways of the wicked can be seductive in a physical sense, but can also be seductive to the inner man.
• They can lead men, women, and children astray in the HEART…
• It is possible to be led astray in our heart… in our thinking… our attitudes… our world views… our philosophy of life…
• II Cor. 10:3-5 – Don’t allow your heart… your thoughts… your mind to be brought into captivity by the seduction of evil men!
c. Col. 2:4 – Seduced into false doctrine — And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
• Here Paul speaks of the seduction of false teachers…
• They use enticing words of men’s wisdom to lure aside those who are NOT willing to study for themselves… to think… to investigate into the Scriptures for themselves…
d. Prov. 14:15 – seduced by gossip… The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
• Gossips attempt to lure us into their evil tactics…
• The wicked love to tell juicy stories… and there is something seductive about hearing such juicy stories about others.
• It is the FOOL who believes every word of the gossiper.
• The righteous man searches things out.
5. The wicked fool is easily seduced… led astray.
a. He does NOT investigate—but believes every word…
b. He doesn’t search out right answers… he is superficial… no depth…
c. Therefore, he is tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine…
d. He is easily drawn into controversies between people—because he doesn’t investigate both sides of the story…
e. He is easily seduced by the ways of the world…
f. They themselves are seduced by their wicked way — AND they tend to draw others into this seduction.
1. If you are looking for counsel or advice: seek out the excellent righteous man!
a. The righteous man avoids much trouble because he is cautious.
b. The wicked fall headlong into error!
c. Darby translation: The righteous guideth his neighbour; but the way of the wicked misleadeth them.
d. Another: The righteous person is a guide to his friend, but the path of the wicked leads them astray.
e. If you need advice or counsel—seek counsel from someone who is CAREFUL in his handling of Gods’ Word!
f. If you need wisdom in choices—seek advice from a person who is discerning… with some spiritual maturity and depth…
g. Seek someone who searches out wisdom and truth…
2. If you are seeking to make friends: seek out the excellent righteous man!
a. Another translation: A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
b. NKJV – The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.
c. We need to be cautious in choosing our friends. Not all so-called friends will lead us in the way of righteousness. Some will seduce us into the way of evil!
d. The way of the wicked is seductive… it is appealing to the flesh… it feels good… it looks attractive… but so did that forbidden fruit in the garden.
3. If you are looking for an example to follow: seek out the excellent righteous man!
a. Prov. 13:20 – “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
b. God wants us to BE that righteous man… the one who searches and seeks out that which is true… that which is right… that which is pleasing to God…
c. God wants us to BE discerning… investigate WHICH men to follow… be cautious in choosing WHICH example to imitate…
4. In fact, BE like this righteous man: investigate… search out things for yourself… dig deep, don’t be superficial…
a. I Cor. 2:15 – He that is SPIRITUAL discerning all things… is an example of a wise, searching, discerning believer.
b. A man led and filled with the Spirit of God WILL behave like this righteous man. He will be discerning… digging… investigating… proving all things… holding fast to that which is good and abstaining from all appearance of evil.
c. This is the kind of excellency which is, in the sight of God, of great price.