The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.Proverbs 14:11-12
When it comes to a chiastic structure, which is the literary device used here, the middle of the chiasm is what is typically being emphasized and gives a clue to the theme of the text. Verses 11 and 12 are the middle verses of this passage.
Notice what happens to the house of the wicked. It is overthrown.
What does an overthrown house look like? Windows are broken. Doors are off their hinges. Everything valuable in the home is broken or taken. There are holes in the roof and nature is coming through. The yard is overgrown and taking over the concrete outside.
Look at the contrast. The tabernacle of the upright will flourish. The word for flourish is also translated blossom or budded. It is used 37 times in the King James Bible and is synonymous with life and growth.
In all of these verses there has been a contrast between God’s Way and man’s way. There is the way of wisdom (God’s way) and the way of the foolish (man’s way).
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man”- in context it would be practice deceit and be naive (vs. 8 and 15), to take sin lightly and make plans devoid of God’s wisdom only consulting ourselves (vs. 9 and 14), and to endure sorrow or try to attempt to express joy but never to God (vs.10 and 13). The ends thereof (the results) are “the ways of death”.
There is also a way that leads to growth, life, and flourishing. Also in context it would be thinking through life and how it ought to be lived (vs. 8 and 15), to be satisfied with the blessing that comes from obedience (vs. 9 and 14), and to express the depths of our feeling to God in prayer (vs.11 and 13).
Do you want to thrive? Do you want the pattern of your time on earth to be characterized by life? Or do you want your life on earth to be like the overthrown house, ravaged by the “ways of death”?
Moses pleaded with his people in the wilderness over this very issue. Read Deuteronomy 30:19-20.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (20) That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.Deuteronomy 30:19-20
This is really the response that is encouraged by this whole text. Will we choose the way of wisdom and therefore life? Or will we choose the way that seems right to us, but whose end is death?
Wisdom or Foolishness?
God’s way or our way?
Life or Death?