Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
Why do bad things keep happening to some people? Why do they regularly get into painful situations with no escape? Why do others have peaceful and prosperous lives with little or no trouble? The difference is how men keep their hearts and souls. Those that are froward, unwilling to take correction and instruction, will surely be punished in life.
A froward person is contrary to what is demanded or reasonable; perverse, difficult to deal with, hard to please; refractory, ungovernable; bad, evilly-disposed, ‘naughty'. These stubborn people are going to do things their own way regardless of what is right or what they are taught. We can confirm this definition of froward elsewhere in the Bible (Pr 2:15; 4:24; 6:12,14; 8:8; 10:32; 16:28; 17:20; Psalm 101:4; I Pet 2:18).
Self-will is a horrible sin (II Pet 2:10-12). Every man thinks his ideas and ways of doing things are right, but they never are (Pr 16:2,25; 21:2)! He flatters himself that he can get away with his sins, but they soon turn out to be hateful things that bring him misery and ruin (Pr 14:9; 28:14; Ps 36:1-2). His heart has deceived him into a patch of thorns (Jer 17:9).
Youth are often froward. Not willing to listen to the instruction of parents and elders, they run into sin and find themselves in the thorns and snares of its consequences. They are sure they can avoid the thorns and miss the snares, so they rush ahead confidently. The Preacher warned against the folly and vanity of youth (Pr 22:15; Eccl 11:9-10; Ps 25:7).
Thorns are painful difficulties in life. Instead of a plain and easy way, a hedge of thorns makes your way full of troubles and problems (Pr 15:19). The way of transgressors is hard (Pr 13:15); they will not have an easy and pleasant life. Thorns were part of God's first curse upon man for his sin in Eden (Gen 3:17-19). And they are still His curse (Is 5:1-7).
God hates the froward (Pr 3:32; 11:20), so He is froward to them (Ps 18:26; Lev 26:23-28). Rather than blessing them, He curses and judges them (Jer 23:12). Instead of prospering the work of their hands, He hinders it with blasting (Amos 4:9; Hag 2:17). No matter how the froward turn, they are pricked, torn, hurt, and shredded by thorns from God.
The negligent father is pained by rebellious children (Pr 19:13; 29:15; I Kgs 1:6). An impulsive marriage brings fifty years of trouble and grief (Pr 12:4; 27:15-16; 30:21-23). Obnoxious habits not corrected cause all friends to disappear (Pr 18:24). Foolish spending brings a chronic shortage of money (Pr 21:17,20). A sharp tongue causes debates and fighting (Pr 15:1,18). Haste to be rich leaves one vulnerable to scams (Pr 28:19,22).
Snares are traps that catch and hold men for punishment. Instead of living free from fear and trouble, the froward are trapped and caught by their sins (Pr 29:6,8; Job 18:8; 22:10; Ps 11:6). The LORD will not let them get away with rejecting His wisdom and counsel (Josh 23:13; Eccl 9:12). He will make sure they reap the consequences (Num 32:23).
Sin causes problems from which there is no escape. Men are trapped by their folly, and it keeps punishing them without respite or relief (Pr 18:7; Eccl 10:13; I Tim 6:9). "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Gal 6:7).
The adulterer is caught between the adulteress and her husband to the ruin of his reputation or the taking of his life (Pr 7:22-23; 6:26-35; 5:20-23). The impulsive co-signor finds himself trapped with serious liabilities he never planned for (Pr 22:26-27). The unbridled talker finds himself shamed by the correction of his neighbor (Pr 25:8-10).
The man who keeps his heart and soul will be far from thorns and snares (Pr 16:17). This lifesaving goal is to be sought with all diligence (Pr 4:23)! Such a man humbly hears the words of wisdom and instruction, and he obeys them. He does not resist, rebel, or try to protect his own opinions. He is careful to apply God's word to his whole life.
How do we keep our heart and soul, to avoid the thorns and snares of life? We fear the Lord, and not man (Pr 13:14; 29:25). We avoid foolish men (Pr 22:25; Deut 7:16; Judges 2:1-5). We let nothing interfere with hearing God's word (Luke 8:18). We obey all the truth we hear. We pray for wisdom to understand and grace to obey. We beg to be saved from our hearts (Ps 139:23-24); we make straight paths for our feet (Heb 12:12-13). We seek to be conformed to His perfect will more than anything else in life (Rom 12:1-2).
The fear of the Lord and the way of righteousness is a fountain of life, to save us from the snares of death (Pr 14:27)! The instruction and laws of wise men provides the same deliverance (Pr 13:14). God's yoke is easy and His burden light (Matt 11:28-30). Why will you reject the good and easy path for one with painful thorns and dreadful snares?
God sometimes sends thorns into your life to chasten you for wrongdoing, to build your faith, to perfect you in some other way, or for His own glory. Just ask Job! But such thorns are sent in fatherly affection for your profit. They are afflictions for which you should rejoice, for they are designed for your highest good (Ps 119:67,71,75).
Dear reader, beg the Lord for thorns to keep you from sin! Ask for snares to catch your feet and keep you in the way of righteousness! Pray to avoid temptation; but if you fall before it, to envy the swine and come to yourself quickly (Luke 15:14-20). Such thorns and snares that turn us to our Father are gracious pricks of pure mercy!
The Lord Jesus kept His soul in faithful obedience to His Father. And the thorns He wore as a crown, and the snare that held Him for three days, were by His free choice for the sins of His elect! You are delivered from the eternal snare of hell by those thorns and that grave! He willingly chose the thorny road for your eternal redemption (John 10:16-18).