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Proverbs 1:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird.
“Do not walk in the way of them” [that is, wicked ones] is similar in context to Psalm 1:1, “Happy is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.” Walk in this context means “to go about,” “to follow,” “to behave,” or “to live” in a similar way as another does. In this case, it is to do, live, behave, or share in the conduct of the wicked ones. Genuine servants of God (Christians), on the other hand, should be walking with God. From the Book of Genesis, we can recall the faithful men Enoch and Noah, who are described as walking with God. (Genesis 5:24; 6:9) In the Scriptures, the term “to walk” conveys the idea of a certain course of action. Both Enoch and Noah chose a course of action that was in harmony with the will of the Father. Unlike those who chose to walk in the way of the wicked ones, Enoch and Noah looked to God for direction and obeyed the direction that they were given. These men of God and many since have trusted in the Father and the Son. This does not mean that they had no free will, as it was God who gave them free will, as well as their own “reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1) However, as servants of God make decisions, they humbly accept the superior wisdom of God to guide them. (Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 55:8-9) Indeed, as true followers walk through life, they take a journey with God, staying in close company with him. The Bible often likens life to a journey or a walk.
The wicked ones “feet run to evil,” a figure of speech, which refers to the sinners of verse 10. They [sinners/wicked ones] “make haste to shed blood” is in the same sense as verse 11, “let us lie in wait for blood.” These wicked ones with their enticing words are in a hurry to run to wicked deeds, always seeking trouble.
How are we to understand, “For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird”? On this verse, Duane A. Garrett writes, “The line is best rendered, ‘In the eyes of a bird, the net is strewn [with grain] for no reason.’ In other words, the bird does not see any connection between the net and what is scattered on it; he just sees free food for the taking. In the process, he is trapped and killed. In the same way, the gang cannot see the connection between their acts of robbery and the fate that entraps them.” There are legitimate alternative renderings. Deliberate evildoers seldom change their course. A net may be in full view, and the eye’s placement, the senses of the bird should make everything obvious, but the seductive power of the food within the net is too much. Yes, the birds fly right into it anyway. Similarly, the wicked ones should be able to see the consequences of their actions, but they are blinded by their greed. Thus, they go ahead with their criminal acts, even though they know they have been caught many times before and all criminals are caught sooner or later.
 Lit the reasonable (or rational, logical) service of you; i.e. true, genuine, or worship
 זרה means to “spread,” but not in the sense “to stretch out a net.” G. R. Driver (“Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 : 173–74) argues that this is from a root מזר, “to compress or draw tight,” cognate with zwr or zrr from other Semitic languages. He emends the form here to מִזְטוּרָה and translates, “In vain is the net drawn tight in the sight of any winged fowl.” More plausibly, D. W. Thomas (“Textual and Philological Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” in Wisdom in Israel and the Ancient Near East, VTSup III : 281–82) argues the זרה here means “winnow,” “scatter,” or “sow.”
 Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 70.
 Why is it in vain that a net is spread in the sight of any birds? This is because a bird’s eyes are on each side of the head, which gives them a wider range of vision than what humans have. In addition, some birds have vision far superior to humans, in that they can see objects at a distance so far it would require us to use binoculars. Then, there is the fact that birds are naturally cautious. All of this combined, it is futile to spread a net in the sight of any birds.