There is a road map that God has for us - not just for a short journey, but for an entire lifetime. The proverb for today speaks of this in two ways. There are two words used here to indicate a way or a path. One refers to the way of good men - while the other speaks of the paths of the righteous. Let's take a look at both of them and see how we can gain a little bit of wisdom from them both.
First we learn of the way of good men. This is the Hebrew word "derek" which speaks of a way that is traveled. The way that this word is used most often is to speak metaphorically of the pathway of one's life. This suggests to us a pattern of life - which is referred to in Deuteronomy 8:6 as an obedient life and in 2 Samuel 22:22 and Jeremiah 5:4 refers to a life lived for godly and righteous ways. Since the entire chapter focuses on the power of the Word of God in our lives - and our need to know it, study it, meditate on it, and apply it to our lives - then we can see that if we take the Word seriously - it will have a powerful affect on our lives. The biblical way is the way of good men. Those who have a sincere desire to obey the Lord and to serve Him and love Him will live good lives. Their lifestyles are worth emulating - and we can follow their way of life if we are committed to following the Scriptures.
Second, we learn of the paths of the righteous. The word for "paths" here is the Hebrew word, "orah." This word is similar to our first. It speaks of a way or a highway. It is metaphorically used to speak of the literal path upon which someone walks - but also can refer to the course of their life - the characteristics of their lifestyle. These can be good or evil, righteous or deserving of judgment. Here since it speaks of the paths of the righteous, we are speaking of a good way to go. The difference between these two words seems to be that in the first, we are walking in the ways of the good men we see. It seems to have an immediacy to it - as if we have these men before our eyes. It speaks of following the examples of men who are alive and whom we seek to emulate because of their godly lifestyles. The second word speaks more of holding fast to the very way (lifestyle over their entire lives) of righteous men.
Where do we learn of such men? First we learn of them in the Scriptures. We know of godly men throughout the Word of God. These are men who have an example and a lifestyle worthy of following. These are men like Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, Hezekiah, the prophets and others in the Old Testament. In the New we have Peter, Paul, John, and Jesus. We need to look at both their daily lives - as well as the course of their lives and give ourselves to following their example.
Do you have such men in your sights? Are you making sure that you and your children have the right kind of heros to emulate and to follow? We desperately need to change the kind of men we set before ourselves and our children in this generation. If we allow the media and the world to chose these men we will see thier bankruptcy poured into the lives of our children - as well as polluting our own hearts as to what a real man should be. Men like Jim Elliot, William Carey, John Patton, George Mueller, John Hyde, C. S. Lewis, Vanya, and Bruchko should be well known to this generation of the church. Unfortunately, they are relatively unknown and we are much poorer for it. May God give us a renaisance of Christian heros and men worthy of following before our eyes. May their example help to point the way and the path upon which we should be walking.