Proverbs 1:19

So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

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Folly and sin lead to certain ruin. Fools and sinners are going down, and there is nothing they can do to stop it (Pr 11:21). Greedy and murderous persons will be destroyed by their own ambition and violence. In spite of seeing other wicked men cut off, and in spite of being warned many times, they continue on in paths of mischief to their ruin.

Solomon loved his son and wanted the best for him in his reign and life, so he used a parable about cutthroats to warn his son about the danger of evil friends (Pr 1:10-19). He supplied their enticing words to join them, though showing their wickedness by the wording (Pr 1:10-14). He warned his son to stay away from them, for they would surely get him into trouble (Pr 1:15-16). Finally, he foretold their total destruction (Pr 1:17-19).

The context is helpful to appreciate the wording of the particular verse at hand. Here are the words going before that describe the ruin of the cutthroats: “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives” (Pr 1:17-18). These greedy murderers would soon destroy themselves by their haughty and profane plans to kill, plunder, and rob innocent persons.

Birds are stupid, and so are young men who think they can get away with folly or sin. Though a fowler spreads a net in the sight of a bird, the attractive bait is too appealing; as soon as the fowler is out of sight, the bird will fly into the trap to get the bait. Birds are caught and killed by the net they ignored. Young fools are killed by the certain judgment of God and men, which they have seen happen to others and have heard about as well.

When murderers lie in wait for the innocent, and when they lurk secretly to take their prey, their arrogance and ignorance cause them to miss that they are pursuing their own destruction. Be sure your sin will find you out (Num 32:23). The King of Terrors will hunt them down by the wrath and will of God (Job 18:5-21). “A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him” (Pr 28:17).

These rules of certain destruction are true of all folly and sin. If persons live contrary to the wisdom freely offered in Solomon’s proverbs, they must love death, because it is stalking them at this very moment (Pr 1:31; 8:36; 14:14; Job 4:8; I Cor 16:22).

The lessons are simple. Stay far away from fools and wicked persons (Pr 9:6; 13:20; I Cor 15:33). Observe that fools and sinners soon meet the fate they planned for others (Pr 26:27; Ps 7:1-17). Folly and sin have consequences, so hate both (Pr 8:13; Ps 97:10).