Proverbs 22:5

“Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;

  whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.”

Proverbs 22:5 ESV

A quick read of this proverb in English may give the wrong impression, which is that thorns and snares stand against the crooked. In other words, the thorns and snares act as defense mechanisms, similar to barbed wire. However, the writer is actually saying that the path of the crooked is littered with thorns and snares. Thus, the one who is not crooked (i.e., the one who is wise) will guard his soul.

I often tell my students that we can learn something from anyone. And by anyone, I mean anyone. “What about the meth head?” some might cleverly offer as if to say, “You can’t learn anything from a person so far gone.” There are different kinds of lessons in life, those things we should do and those things we shouldn’t do. Sometimes we can learn what not to do by understanding why a person is surrounded by thorns and snares (or destruction and disaster). Once we figure out what set that person on that path, we can avoid that path by avoiding the entry ramps that lead to it.

But we have to be careful that this avoidance is not simply a mental exercise. The temptations of the soul are heart matters. “I could never be tempted by that” can be a really dangerous statement that doesn’t seem to take into account the wiles of the devil or the human proclivity to sin. I, too, have a list of things that I don’t think could actually tempt me. But how many people who have found themselves sitting under a pile of disaster have said, “I never could have imagined being in this situation.” I’m reminded of an old saying,

“There ain’t no horse that can’t be rode, and there ain’t no cowboy that can’t be throwed.”

Beware. Beware. Beware. Guard your soul, lest your way be littered with thorns and snares.

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