As is the case with most of the proverbs, each verse here has a “do this, don’t do that” repetition to them. Here is a list of all of the things that lead to death:
Foolishness, Pride, Lies, Wickedness, Being quick tempered, Worldly things that seem like good things, but really aren’t
Here is a list of traits that lead to righteousness:
Prudence, Honesty, Fear of the Lord, Patience, Discernment
We should strive to be honest with the people around us. More importantly, we need to be honest with ourselves. Remember that, although on the outside we may have one appearance, God can see what is written on our hearts. Patience isn’t always an easy thing, like when we’ve been cut off on the highway for the tenth time in as many minutes. Giving careful thought to what we say and do (prudence) gives us a better chance at being discerning (showing good judgment).
Most of all, we should live our lives in fear of the Lord. Why should I be afraid of God? I looked into this to see an interpretation of what this means, which you can read here. According to Martin Luther, there are two types of fear: servile and filial. Servile fear would be the equivalent of a prisoner being afraid of the jailer. It may also be the fear one has of their boss. In each case, you may obey expectations just because you don’t want to get a beating or get fired.
Filial fear is equivalent to fearing your parents’ disciplinary actions. You tend to have these fears out of respect and love for your parents. You have this fear because you don’t want to disappoint the ones you love and care about the most. Our fear of God is this type of fear. If we love and respect the Creator of All Things, then we should always strive to meet His expectations, and know that there are consequences for falling short.
On that last note, though we fall short, we know that we are the benefactors of unmatched love, grace, and mercy through the redeeming Blood of Christ. As Paul writes in Ephesians 3:17b-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. So, live your life in fear of the Lord, knowing that God loves you more than you will ever be able to understand.