Life & Death
The Way of Life is Above to the Wise
A. The WAY of Life
1. The way of life.
a. While this passage certainly does have many moral and spiritual overtones, and while it may have lots of various applications, the best INTERPRETATION of the verse seems to refer to physical life or death.
b. The way of life then would refer to the way of physical life on earth.
c. Of course our physical life on earth has moral and spiritual connotations.
d. And the physical and the spiritual realms are certainly related.
e. But, the simplest and best way to understand this verse is as a reference to the issue of life and death physically.
2. To the Old Testament Hebrew saint, their blessing was viewed from a different perspective than ours as Christians.
a. Their concept of blessing was a long life on earth…
b. Long life was a blessed promise to the obedient and faithful in Israel.
c. Hence, the promise of long life to the obedient child as part of the 10 commandments!
d. Old age was honored—not only out of respect—but because it was considered a great blessing from God for a life of obedience, wisdom, and faithfulness.
e. This explains Hezekiah’s reaction to the news of his death in II Kings 20:1-4.
• Hezekiah seemed puzzled as to WHY he would die before a ripe old age.
• His reasoning? “I I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.”
• He assumed that because he was faithful he should live long on the earth.
• God granted his request.
3. The term WAY defined: a well-trodden road (literally or figuratively); also a caravan; manner; path.
a. There is a safe way to live life on earth… avoiding that which leads to a premature death.
b. This is the way that leads to a healthy physical life.
c. The way of obedience and righteousness adds a moral flavor to it… but even so, obedience and righteousness in the Old Testament also lead to sustaining one’s physical life!
• Obeying the law meant life; rebelling often meant death—by stoning!
• Of course ultimately, those who responded properly to the Law followed a path that led to eternal life.
• The godly choose the way that leads to eternal life. (Ps. 139:24)
• This is the way that leads to an abundant life. This course of life or lifestyle also affected one’s quality of life!
• All of these issues of life are related: physical, moral, spiritual, and eternal life! They all affect the length of life and the quality of life on earth too!
4. Prov. 10:16 – The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.
a. Righteous men work for that which preserves, restores, protects, values, supports, and sanctifies LIFE.
b. The labor of a righteous man works for that which is GOOD for life… for his life… for the life of his spouse and family.
c. A righteous man is concerned about righteousness… doing things right before God. Right according to God’s Word… not right according to our own personal opinions.
d. The labors and efforts of a man who is genuinely concerned with doing things RIGHT… will TEND to life in his local church.
• Doing things right according to God’s Word PROMOTES the spiritual life of an assembly.
• His labors for the Lord in the local church tend to build up the spiritual lives of other believers… (Sunday school class; youth group worker; music)
• He may labor with his hands to give to others… give money… give a helping hand… improving the lives of others.
• A righteous man is generous with his labors… this tends to life—to aid or enhance the lives of others.
e. The labors and efforts of a man who is genuinely concerned with doing things RIGHT… will TEND to life in his home.
• He will train his child the right way—according to the principles in God’s Word.
• He will treat his spouse and his children according to the principles in God’s Word.
• That will PROMOTE the good, healthy, and spiritual LIFE of his family.
5. Prov. 12:28 – In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.
a. This is a WAY… a way of RIGHTEOUSNESS.
b. The way of righteousness is also the way of LIFE.
c. This way chooses to do things RIGHT… and doing things RIGHT always preserves life. (All things being equal—of course there are exceptions.)
d. Prov. 2:6-8 – the one who takes heed to God’s wisdom and walks in the way of righteousness… will have his physical life PRESERVED… protected.
e. Wisdom protects life. Folly and foolish behavior endangers our lives.
• Wisdom says, “Drive the speed limit and don’t talk on the phone!”
• Folly says, “Floor it and call your friend to brag about how fast you’re going.”
• Wisdom says, “Wine is a mocker and strong drink raging.” Folly says, “I can handle it. Pass me the bottle!”
• Wisdom preserves life and keeps us safe.
• Folly… the way beneath endangers our lives and often leads to an early death.
B. Is Above
1. The way of LIFE is above. It is superior. It is higher than all else.
2. Wisdom leads to life on a higher plane… things above.
3. Wisdom leads to that which is above: namely, valuing LIFE.
4. Life is from above. Wisdom is from above from the Father of lights.
5. A good man sets his affections on things above… things that are higher.
6. True wisdom leads a man to choose the WAY of life which is above… by trusting in Christ who is the WAY. This means a man is born from above… and has life from above.
7. The way of life is from above…
C. To the Wise
1. Be wise and live! That is the gist of this proverb.
2. The way of wisdom is the way of life.
a. Wisdom sees the sanctity and value of life.
b. Wisdom protects and preserves life.
c. Prov. 9:11 – wisdom adds years to one’s life.
3. The way of wisdom safeguards us against that which would put our lives in harm’s way or endanger our lives. (Prov. 14:16)
4. In light of the controversy over life/death issues in our nation today—the Terri Schiavo case… we should know that the Bible says the way of LIFE is the way of wisdom.
That He May Depart from Hell Beneath.
1. The place of the dead
a. Either the grave, the place of the body at death.
b. Hades/sheol, the place of the soul and spirit at death—the afterlife.
2. The usage of the term in Proverbs: 5:5; 7:27; 9:18 – imply that it is to be understood as the grave… not the afterlife.
a. Each time, it is equated with physical DEATH as opposed to the abode of the dead.
b. The afterlife was not the emphasis in Proverbs. Solomon’s emphasis was more on life on the earth… life vs. death.
1. The way of life is above. The way of death descends down to the grave.
2. Beneath… down… below not only speak of the physical direction of this way (the way to the grave) but also speak of its moral implications: down, below, beneath!
3. Above and beneath… up and down… express stark contrast.
4. Spiritually a man’s way is from above (thinks on things above; has life from above) or from beneath (thinks not of things above but the things of the earth; he lives like Solomon in Ecc.—under the sun—as if beneath was all there is!)
C. That He May Depart From Hell
1. Departing implies a road or a lifestyle FROM WHICH one departs.
2. This is the way of hell or the grave, as contrasted to the way of life.
3. There is a WAY that leads to the grave.
a. The way of the daredevil—always showing off by risking his life with some new and dangerous stunt.
b. The way of violence… uncontrolled anger… fighting… murder… either being killed in a fight or executed for your violent crimes.
c. The way of the big mouth… always shooting off his big mouth—and giving others reason to strike back.
d. The way of the alcohol and drugs. Those roads ultimately lead to death… either cirrhosis of the liver… overdose or some other means.
e. The way of sexual promiscuity. It too is the way of death… either through the aids virus or through getting shot in the head for adultery. Prov. 7:27 – the way of immorality is the way of hell and death!
f. The way of not taking care of one’s body… refusing to eat right… refusing to see a doctor… refusing to take medication properly… refusing to exercise… those roads also lead to the grave.
g. The way of not following orders often leads to death. (Jer. 21:8-9) This is true in the military; among young people learning to drive; using heavy equipment; rock climbing; working with electricity; in assembling tools; scaffolding; in countless settings, not following orders leads to death!
h. Solomon’s point: those roads are NOT the ways of wisdom but the ways of folly!
4. Prov. 23:13-14 – A wise parent will use the rod not because he is angry at the child and wants to vent frustration, but because he loves the child and wants to prevent the child from ending up in the grave… or from going to hell!
a. A child left to himself will naturally gravitate towards the way of folly.
b. The way of folly is the dangerous road that ultimately leads to the grave (physically) and eternally condemnation (spiritually)!
c. This is the reason parents are to train their children:
• To keep the child from a road that the parents know is dangerous and could lead to his early demise!
• To keep the child from going to hell when he dies.
• Of course a parent can go overboard with discipline… become unbalanced, and do as much damage in OVER disciplining as in UNDER disciplining. Going overboard provokes a child to wrath… and promotes rebellion!
5. Of course, there is an obvious moral and spiritual application to this proverb.
a. Matt. 7:13-14 – there are two roads: one leads to eternal life and one leads to eternal destruction and death.
b. Most men choose the broad road that leads to destruction and ultimately hell… the Lake of Fire.
c. Choose LIFE!