Due to the nature of Proverbs 4:12, and the depth and beauty of this passage, we will only look at one verse today. So as we begin, we start by seeing that Solomon is telling us, based on what we discussed from Proverbs 4:10-11, that we will have our first benefit that will protect us from the evil one.
The first benefit is found in our walk. Our steps, which each step constitutes our walk, will not be hindered. Walking is very profound in the Old Testament being used one thousand and three times. To pursue each concept would take way beyond the scope, or viability of this blog so we will hit just some interesting ones to show some depth to this part of our Scripture.
To begin, we must understand what it means to walk. It is translated at one hundred and ninety eight times as go. One hundred and ninety three times as went, and a mere one hundred times as walk. To a much lesser meaning, it can be used as follow, following, followed, led, etc. In its absolute meaning, it does mean to walk, but its abstract meaning is to live, behave. Therefore, the focus, especially in Proverbs, is not necessarily a literal act of going, but instead the metaphorical meaning of the life being a journey! Where does this draw us? Some examples:
Moses instructed the people to teach so as to know how to walk – Exodus 18:20
There was a warning not to walk after the lifestyle of those who were in the land – Leviticus 18:3
A life is not to be lived with lies – Job 31:5
We are called to not walk in the way of sinners or ungodly – Psalm 1:1
All of this builds to the evil ones that are to be avoided. But there is also a positive call. It is a call in how to walk before God (Genesis 24:40; 48:15). It is also part of the prayers for the people to walk as they should: 1 Kings 9:4 for example.
Therefore, this walk is the way in which our life is carried. The way in which our existence shows, not only to our fellow man but also to the God of Heaven, our Lord. This is why there is the importance of teaching how to walk (1 Samuel 12:23), but even more important is the prayer to learn how to walk in the ways of the Lord. If we look at the Psalmist statement in Psalm 119:35, the walk is in the commands of the Lord which is a delight, not a burden. It was this walking that was so important, and it should be important for us today.
By walking as we should, we find, and we will go into more detail when we get to it, but Proverbs 9:6 tells us that understanding can only lead from foolishness and should be forsaken as we walk. Therefore, if our walk is right and pure, then our steps will have a positive outcome. It always does. Some may ask, what about the things that happen to those who do walk well? Why do they suffer, die, and not see this goodness you write of? Do not be mistaken. Their journey will still end well. It ends in eternal joy and peace with the Lord our Savior! They still walk well. Unlike the evil that are destroyed.
How does this play out? Psalm 23:3 tells us in a beautiful way that our Lord is The Shepherd. As such he leads us by still waters, and into green grass. This is how we are led by God as we walk with the wisdom and right paths. Not all these paths are fun or enjoyable, for in Psalm 23 there is still a valley of the shadow of death. But even in that shadow, God is still there leading us. That is why Psalkm 25:4 should be a prayer of our heart? How many times do we pray for God to show us His ways? It is easy to do when we can only throw up our hands in despair, but what about during the times when things seem to go well? Why do we not then? Perhaps we are not doing what is told to us in Proverbs 3:5. Please note, that this is best explained in Proverbs 3:6. Our ways. Could it be the ways are also the paths we must...WALK? Yes, we are going to walk this life. But our walk must be done in a way that is pleasing and honoring to God. Failure to do so will bring nothing but misery and pain. But what does this bring to us when we do it right?
But we must notice the steps are not hindered. As such, what does this mean? It means to be bound, or to have adversaries. The steps of those who walk in understanding are not going to be stopped or slowed down. This may seem hard to understand, but when we are walking in our life in a way to please the Lord, the Lord is the one who is guiding our steps. Is He ever thwarted? Therefore, no matter what happens to us, His plan will always come to pass!
But this verse does not end here. It now brings about those who run. When we run, the risk for falling is higher. Something small throws off our steps and speed. We start to wobble back and forth, and down we go. It is painful, and embarrassing. But for those who run with God, they do not stumble. This Bible verse has a very unique parallel passage. Isaiah 40:31. Do you see the similarities?
The walking before God in wisdom and understanding is not necessarily a sprint. Sometimes it also involves learning how to wait on the Lord before taking the next step. This is the hardest thing to do at times. Often, we, and I am included in this, wish to run ahead of God, not waiting for what He wants to do. But the point of walking in a way that is pleasing to Him is to also walk in a way that calls for us to wait for Him as well.
Therefore, walking and running our life before God, how are we doing? Is He pleased with us? Our goal is to live in a way that our Lord will be glorified. Too many Christians are very happy claiming the name of Christ but then walking where their own feet wishes to go! Then they wonder why their life seems like a wreck. It is only when we line our walking with the Lords that we will find this verse comes true. It is not easy, but it is vital. Especially when we look at the evil ones whom are also walking around us. How is the temptation to follow them? Do we follow them? That will be for another time.