|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:14-27 The way of evil men may seem pleasant, and the nearest way to compass some end; but it is an evil way, and will end ill; if thou love thy God and thy soul, avoid it. It is not said, Keep at a due distance, but at a great distance; never think you can get far enough from it. The way of the righteous is light; Christ is their Way, and he is the Light. The saints will not be perfect till they reach heaven, but there they shall shine as the sun in his strength. The way of sin is as darkness. The way of the wicked is dark, therefore dangerous; they fall into sin, but know not how to avoid it. They fall into trouble, but never seek to know wherefore God contends with them, nor what will be in the end of it. This is the way we are bid to shun. Attentive hearing the word of God, is a good sign of a work of grace begun in the heart, and a good means of carrying it on. There is in the word of God a proper remedy for all diseases of the soul. Keep thy heart with all diligence. We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing hurt, and getting hurt. A good reason is given; because out of it are the issues of life. Above all, we should seek from the Lord Jesus that living water, the sanctifying Spirit, issuing forth unto everlasting life. Thus we shall be enabled to put away a froward mouth and perverse lips; our eyes will be turned from beholding vanity, looking straight forward, and walking by the rule of God's word, treading in the steps of our Lord and Master. Lord, forgive the past, and enable us to follow thee more closely for the time to come.
Verse 19. - The way of the wicked is as darkness. In contrast with the path of the just is the way of the wicked, which is described as darkness itself: i.e. so deeply enveloped in gloom that the wicked are not able even to see the obstacles and impediments against which they stumble, and which are the cause of their ruin. It is a way dark throughout - a via tenebrosa (Vulgate) - terminating at length in "the blackness of darkness." As light is emblematical of knowledge, holiness, and joy, so darkness represents ignorance, unholiness, and misery (see Isaiah 8:22). Darkness (aphelah); strictly, thick darkness, midnight gloom, the entire absence of light. It is the word used of the plague of "thick darkness" that settled over all the land of Egypt, even a darkness that "might be felt," when the Egyptians "saw not one another, nor any arose from his place for three days" (Exodus 10:21-23). It occurs again in ch. 7:9, "in the black and dark night." In this darkness the wicked cannot help but stumble. Compare our Lord's teaching, "But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him" (John 11:10; cf. 12:36). The expression, they know not at what they stumble, carries with it the idea that they are so ignorant that they neither know wickedness as wickedness, nor do they apprehend the destruction which it involves. "Sins, however great and detestable they may be, are looked upon as trivial, or as not sins at all, when men get accustomed to them" (St. Augustine, 'Enchiridion,' cap. 80). On "stumble" (kashal), see ver. 12; and on the destruction of the wicked implied in the stumbling, see Proverbs 1:27, seq., 2:18-22; 3:35.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The way of the wicked is as darkness,.... They are in the darkness of sin, ignorance, error, and unbelief; their works are works of darkness; the way in which they are leads to eternal darkness, ruin, and misery, and so must be most uncomfortable and dangerous;
they know not at what they stumble; they stumble at the word, which they are ignorant of, and at Christ, whom they have no knowledge of; and through the temptations of Satan and snares of the world, which they are not aware of, nor upon their guard against.
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