Why is wisdom needed? Well for many in the modern mindset, maybe it isn't. They contend that the basic nature of man is good. Yet the very reason for wisdom is the fact that evil exists. But we are not being told about evil in theory - we are being told here that evil men exist. The battle with evil in theory is one only in our minds - but a battle with evil that actually involves evil men - that is another story altogether.
The first thing we learn is that there is a "way of evil" that exists in our world. We are facing those who have developed lifestyles that embrace evil. The facts are in - and those facts clearly delineate for us that man is fallen. The facts also indicate that being fallen, man has developed a whole way of life that is contrary to the will of God. If we are not careful and wise - we will find ourselves following that path - that way of evil. According to Solomon, we need to be delivered from the way of evil. Maybe this is why we hear John telling us, "Do not love the world or the things of the world, if anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him."
The way we are drawn into this way of evil is by men who speak perverse things. This perverse speech involves saying things that distort and deviate from what God has said and what God wants. It is deceptive, corrupt speaking that either denies the Word or twists it until it suits our fallen appetites. That's why we need wisdom and discretion - the ability to distinguish between things godly and ungodly. We need to know when an "evil man" is trying to deceive us and lead us astray.
The evil man leaves the paths of uprightness to walk in their darkness. Here it is again - the fact that there is an entire walk and path that is ungodly. But we also learn that there is a corresponding walk that is upright and godly. The evil man leaves God's ways and chooses those that are dark instead. We learn again from John that the ungodly hate the light and do not come to the light. That is the way of the evil man. That is also why we need wisdom and understanding - to remind us that fellowship with the evil man means fellowship with darkness. It seems that God is trying to get us to see that there is a light/darkness - good/evil - godly/ungodly situation in life.
Worldly wisdom equates the best of thinking and acting to mankind. That is why they are shocked with evil rears its head. They want to think the best of man - when the truth is man IS capable of the worst atrocities. Proverbs tells us that there are those men who "delight in doing evil and rejoice in perversity." We almost shrink from these statements - yet that is what is said here.
If there has been a "fall" of mankind into sin that has corrupted them utterly - then it really isn't that much of a stretch that man rejoices in evil and perversity. To fallen man - evil is good and good is evil. Isn't that what we see today? In our world evil is called good and good evil. They consider the things of God strange and His commandments as burdensome. They see freedom as bondage and their current state of bondage as freedom. Delight in doing evil then becomes the norm - and it should not be all that strange to see those devoting entire programs on television and articles in writing to rejoice in how they pervert the straight paths of God.
Look at the sexual revolution of the 60's as an example. The morals of the past were thrown off (possibly the biggest lie of that period was to deny that such things had always been happening - just that they were done far more secretly). But I think that the shock was not that morals were cast aside, but that now those acting immorally were rejoicing openly in their perversity. The movement was not just a desire to set aside what is right - it was a rejoicing in what heretofore was considered evil. What is even more amazing to me is that several generations of this behavior has led to society adopting such actions as normal - and now even certain segments of society say we should rejoice in evil. NOW we get why we need to cry out to God for wisdom, discretion, and knowledge to escape such a fate.
The final statement about the way of evil is that their direction in life becomes like their heart. Their paths (again the word for lifestyle) are crooked. Crooked is the Hebrew word 'iqqesh'. It means something that is morally, religiously, and socially perverted. This perversity comes from the source of an evil, deceitful, perverse heart. No longer are certain actions perverted - but the whole direction and path of their life runs counter to the truth of God.
Their lifestyle is finally described as being devious. This is the last straw. It describes a person who has followed their perverse and wicked ways to the point where they now despise and reject God's ways. They find them abhorrent. What is worse is that they are utterly blind to their condition.
What we have described for us is the natural degradation of fallen men. They may begin with the remnants of God's image within them - but as they continue in their perversity they soon scald their conscience and harden it to the point where they no longer feel any shame in their sin. By the way, this is exactly what is taught to us in Romans chapter one. We learn that man begins with denying God and being ungrateful, but ends with those who cheer on the wickedness of man - preferring their own perversity to anything God has to offer. In light of such an ignoble end - we see why Solomon impresses on his son the importance of crying out to God for wisdom and understanding. There is too much at stake here to live and let live. The fall of man guarantees that what starts as a mere snowflake will become a massive ball of snow that destroys all in its path. May such a vision of the destructive power of our core perverseness motivate us to a passionate cry for God's wisdom and a desperate search for His ways and paths.