*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Proverbs 2:20-22 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Proverbs 2:20
  • Proverbs 2:21
  • Proverbs 2:22

After uplifting the benefits of wisdom and warning against the lies of temptation, Solomon ends chapter 2 by summing up the difference between the life of the wise and the life of the foolish.

The transition from the previous section, which warns against the path of temptation, is an exhortation to walk in the way of good men.

The phrase so you will literally means “heed”, “thus,” or “because of.” It is a statement of purpose and intent. Solomon has told how wisdom will protect us from the way of evil. If we recognize this, it will spur us to walk in the way of good men. Our comprehension of the true, destructive nature of evil will also lead us to keep the paths of the righteous. We will stay on course, keeping to the way of reality. We will live according to the way things actually are. We will acknowledge God rather than trying to be God. We will forsake trying to control things we can’t control. We will not give in to perversion. Instead, we will listen in obedience and practice wisdom. Stay true to the path of righteousness. This is because we recognize reality, that evil leads to death and wisdom to life.

Solomon concludes Chapter 2 with more references to the prosperity of wisdom.

The upright will live in the land. This phrase likely has a double meaning. First, the word for land is also the word for “earth”, literally the planet. The promise being that those who are upright or blameless will live the life that is truly life— they will have discovered the key to existing successfully on this planet.

The other meaning of this phrase is a reference to God’s promises to the Old Testament fathers. God granted The Promised land to Abraham and his descendants as a perpetual possession (Genesis 15:8-21). God made this grant to Abraham as a reward for his obedience. But even though the land was granted, Israel was required to live in righteousness before God in order to enjoy the benefits of dwelling in the land (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

So, those who walk in the way of the good will be included in blessings promised to God’s people, heirs to the promises to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and the rest. The blameless will remain in it, that is in the land. God had promised that if Israel would choose the path of life, they would be blessed and continue to dwell in the land.

There is a corollary to modern believers. Just as God granted righteousness to Abraham based on his faith (Acts 7:2; Genesis 15:6), so He does to believers in Jesus Christ (John 3:14-16). But obedience is necessary in order to enjoy the benefits of that great gift of eternal life. When we walk in God’s ways, the ways of wisdom, we will find the path of acknowledging reality, experiencing our best self-interest, and living the principles of God’s Kingdom. His Kingdom will be our “land,” because we are living its principles. Unlike the poor foundation of the strange woman’s house, we will live in stability. Unlike the destructive consequences of chasing passions, we will experience familial harmony and prosperity within our communities.

On the other hand, the wicked will be cut off from the land. They will be like the infamous ancestors of Solomon’s audience who missed out on the Promised Land because they did not have sufficient faith to take the land. The treacherous will be cut off from the land—they will be like orphans on this planet, lacking purpose and a home. They will be alone and confused, lacking community and the security of intimacy with God. After taking the land, a future generation of Israelites will experience exile to Babylon as a result of living unfaithfully (1 Chronicles 9:1).

All of this is within the context of a “father” teaching a “son”, beckoning the younger to acknowledge the reality of the world and to make wise decisions that align him with that reality rather than against it. Solomon is imploring his audience to hear what is at stake, how much it matters, and how significant it is.

Biblical Text

So you will walk in the way of good men
And keep to the paths of the righteous.

21 For the upright will live in the land
And the blameless will remain in it;

22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land
And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.

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