The poet Robert Frost once wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—/ I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference.” As we begin a new study in the book of Proverbs, we are encouraged to walk in the path of wisdom. To walk in wisdom is to take the road less traveled. Jesus said it this way, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).
I have always been struck by the words of our Savior in those verses. In a way, Jesus is summarizing the lesson of Proverbs. In both cases, those who walk with God are called to walk the road less traveled. The road less traveled begins with the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
From the onset of the book, two paths are placed before us. One is the path of wisdom, the other is the path of fools. As we think of these two paths, we are reminded of two trees in the Garden of Eden. One tree opened the door to eternal life, the other led to death and destruction. There have always been only two paths a person can follow. There are no other options.
As we scan the landscape of the world, we can see that there is a form of wisdom that can entice a soul to follow, but it is a wisdom that leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 tells is that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” In our text, Solomon urges his son to flee such a path (cf. Prob. 1:10-19). Following the world and its ways may bring a form of success. It may even lead others to celebrate our success; but it will end in eternal ruin.
The writer of Psalm 73 struggled with walking in the path of wisdom. At times he envied those who walked down the broad path of the world. But as he meditated on this, he came to a sobering conclusion. He writes, “Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning. … When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me – Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (Psalm 73:12-14, 16-17).
Walking in wisdom is difficult because it demands that we follow another. In our fallen condition, our instinct is to follow our desires and impulses. But wisdom urges us to follow Christ. He is the voice of wisdom that pleads with us to follow Him and His instruction (cf. Prov. 1:20-23). The path of fools is the path of self-understanding. The path of wisdom is the path of surrender and obedience.
Jesus calls, and He urges us to let Him lead us to green pastures and still waters. If you are at the crossroads, listen for His voice. You will find it on the road less traveled.