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What Does 'There is a Way that Seems Right to Man' Mean in Proverbs 14:12?

Let God guide you. Let God be in your life as if you see Him every day. He will not leave you nor forsake you even in the hardest of times. If God is truly guiding you, then there is no need to panic nor fear.

Contributing Writer
Updated Nov 05, 2021
What Does 'There is a Way that Seems Right to Man' Mean in Proverbs 14:12?

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12).

Tony Evans tells us: "Make no mistake: God means every word he says. This, then, is one of the most sobering verses of Scripture: There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death. In the book of Judges, Israel was in a dark and disastrous period because “everyone did whatever seemed right to him” (Judg 21:25). This highlights the problem with worldly, human wisdom: it seems right! And without comparison to the divine perspective, it looks pretty good. Human strategies and philosophies about life, in fact, have a bunch of people convinced because they appeal to our own self-centered notions of what’s best. But those who won’t seek God’s opinion regarding the right path will pay a high price in the end. Rely solely on human logic to chart the course of your life, and it will lead you on a path to hell. "

This will strike a chord with many, and hearing the truth hurts even if it’s necessary. The Word of God is final and true. The Word of God uncovers, pierces, corrects, and comforts (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

So, how do we know this is true? Well, the Bible says in Hebrews 4:12-13,

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Without God’s Word guiding us and equipping us, life would be very hard to navigate. I know what life is like without God and His Word. It may seem so much easier, but it’s a facade.

It’s smoke blinding you from truly believing what God has for you. We can’t all see what is ahead, but that’s when God asks us to trust Him, and walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

What Does 'There Is a Way That Seems Right to Man' Mean?

The Old Testament Applied commentary tells us: "An unwise person may feel that his way is right (see Proverbs 12:15), but in fact it leads to death (see Proverbs 7:2127; Matthew 7:13–14). Examples of such unwise people would include those who worship God with their lips but not with their hearts, those whose religion consists only of external observances, and those whose first desire is to please men rather than God; such people suppose their way is right, but they are mistaken."

Throughout the last year or so, we all had to navigate this life during what seemed the most difficult season of our lives. In the past, humanity has endured so much more than we have had in the last year or so.

We can compare and contrast what has happened ever since the fall of humanity, but this will not help guide us in the present. People grow up through different lifestyles, families, and cultures. People go through different paths whether with God or not.

Life truly is not easy. In fact, the Bible says in Matthew 7:13-14 that many go the broader path rather than the narrower path because the broad path seems easier. Which, in the end, it leads to death.

Why is this so? Maybe because it’s easier and we can see what is ahead. Or maybe it’s because we are afraid to forgo our lives for Jesus (Mark 8:35).

Whatever the reason may be, it’s not worth it. Luke 17:33 says, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” We seek what we know. If God is not what you know then you’ll always be searching to be satisfied.

I also believe that we tend to carry our burdens so well to the point that we overload. Car payments due, mortgage, illness, etc. will overwhelm you if you let it.

The Bible says many times to cast your burdens onto Him (Psalm 55; Matthew 11; 1 Peter 5). Sometimes we forget in the moment that what we are overloading ourselves with was never meant for us to carry.

The path that we choose for ourselves may be more inviting than we anticipated. The life that we dream of is full of possibilities. But sometimes life hits you in the face and control tries to become a part of you that you forget that God is still in control (Psalm 27).

God has given us self-control of our actions, emotions, and thoughts. But He didn’t just throw us onto this earth and not show us how to live. God made everything including us (Genesis 1; 2). Therefore, God knows the path you will take because He has already established it from the beginning.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand (Proverbs 19:21).

'There Is a Way that Seems Right to Man' - How to Avoid This Path

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

Has your faith been tested? Good. James 1:2-4 says that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. In other words, testing your faith gives you the endurance to continue to pass these tests so that you may receive the crown of life (James 1:12).

Faith ties into believing God that He is guiding you along the path He has for you. Faith doesn’t say, “I know God has a path for me, but I’m going to still take control of each step.”

One of my favorite verses that always seems to work its way in every time I write is Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

Let God guide you. Let God be in your life as if you see Him every day. He will not leave you nor forsake you even in the hardest of times.

If God is truly guiding you, then there is no need to panic nor fear. Jonah feared and literally tried to avoid the path that God had for him. Look where it got him. Jonah was directed right back where he ran from because God had a plan.

There was not going to be any avoidance for that. So, even if you veer off the path God will leave the 99 to find the one (Luke 15). God gave us His Word for a reason. God gave us His Son for a reason.

God gave us life because He loves us. His love is what saved us from death by sacrificing His Son Jesus. His love is what draws us to Him because He is the Father of all fathers. So, again, trust His ways, and strive to go onto the difficult, but rewarding narrow path.

A Closing Prayer

Father, you are good. We love you with all that we are and more. I pray that everyone who is fighting for their life will give it to you God. I pray that each person that is longing to be satisfied will be satisfied only in you God.

Finally, I pray for all of us to never let go of the Word of God. As this is the weapon against the enemy, and the guidance you have given us, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For further reading:

Can Faith Change God’s Plans or Ours?

Can We Know God’s Will?

Is Saying ‘If it’s God’s Will’ Biblical?

Why Shouldn’t We Lean on Our Own Understanding?

How Do We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight?

Can We Argue with God’s Promises?

What Does the Bible Say about Anxiety?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/JM_Image_Factory

Rebecca Mashburn (Gordon) has a wonderful husband named Joseph. She has a blog, Trust. Lean, Seek and is working on becoming what God is calling her to. She has a bachelor's in psychology and hopes to one day pursue a degree in biblical counseling. Rebecca loves to be in nature, especially in springtime, and she loves to travel. She has a loving family and hopes one day to have children of her own.


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