Appearances are subject to the interpretation of the observer – Proverbs 16:25

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

– Proverbs 16:25

It is possible to be deceived about the nature of wisdom and end up walking in a way that seems right but really is not.

In this Proverb, the contrast is not between truth and falsehood but between what is right and what is death. This is what I am discovering lately throughout the scripture: truth has to do with a particular way of life rather than with a set of principles. That which is not true is a way that does not lead to life. Jesus’ claim to be the way the truth and the life was really a singular claim. Perhaps it is possible to say that it was a claim to be wisdom.

What bothers me most about this proverb is that the man does not know he is deceived concerning the nature of wisdom. Wisdom forms the way in which a person chooses to live their life. This man chose to live his life in a way that seems right…probably on the basis of trusting his own judgment concerning what is right and what is wrong.

What else is there to depend on, though?

At least the guy wasn’t doing what seemed wrong to him. If he had been doing that, I would understand why his way led to death. The choice between good and evil, right and wrong, is one that many people do not choose to make in favor of what is right. He did, but still ended up walking in the ways of death. What benefit was there to him in choosing good over evil?

The only explanation that I have here is that what seems right is not necessarily the same thing as what is right. Appearances are subject to the interpretation of the observer.

This entire chapter of Proverbs addresses the relationship between the plans of a person and their actual outcome, which belongs to the LORD. I think the second half of the chapter may be a recasting of the first, showing that a wise life is not really a matter of determining what is right and what is wrong, but of handing over this judgment to the LORD, as the one who “establishes his steps” (v.9).

If I was looking for another way of life…one that did not lead to death, I would propose it is to walk not according to what one judges to be right, but according to what the LORD directs. This requires familiarity and communication – a relationship. This implies that the Christian life is not just one about getting saved and getting out of here, but one of living every day out of a growing intimacy with the Father.

Leave a Reply