"For their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood"
For the young, what gangs and criminals have to offer can sound so enticing and exhilarating: getting money easily; acquiring things, activities, and relationships through cheating and raw power. But young people must come to understand: it will redirect the course of your life towards evil. Your destiny will be different.
feet run to evil
The word evil is the Hebrew word ra which means bad or evil. The expanded meaning is that which violates God's rules for the boundaries of selfishness in society. There is a certain amount of selfishness that a society can permit and still sustain itself with damage to the innocent, but there are forms of selfishness that immediately threaten the innocent and the well-being of the society as a whole. These places are where God has told us to make laws and enforce those laws. If people are allowed to cross these lines to high levels of selfishness without correction, societal shame, punishment, or significant consequences, then widows, orphans, the oppressed, the poor, and other innocent people at the margins of society will be damaged. If this goes on long enough and spreads throughout the society deep enough, then everyone is threatened by this pervasive selfishness. The lines where all this begins to happen is laid down in broad brush strokes in the Ten Commandments. Beyond the Ten is the biblical definition of the evil.
Solomon is trying to get young people to recognize the enticement of unrighteous friends and acquaintances through what they are suggesting: EVIL. What they are suggesting is enticing and easy because it is evil and because it makes others lose so that you can gain. Don't be fooled with how easy it is, with how exhilarating it is, with how harmless it seems. If it is beyond the Ten Commandments, it is the wrong place and the wrong direction.
hasten to shed blood
The word blood is the Hebrew word dam which means blood-guiltiness or the shedding of blood. It is the idea of murder or physical violence. It is a focus on power, violence, and intimidation. Young people – and young men especially – are enamored with raw physical power and the impact of violence. They feel the raging of impulses and the desire to force others to give them what they want and to have others embrace this philosophy that feels so right. It can begin through involvement in protection rackets. It can begin through bullying at school or in the neighborhood. Solomon is talking openly about what young people will be tempted to embrace: "might is right." He screams: Do not be taken in by this path of life! It will not be the liberation you think it is. It will not be the unlimited leverage to the good life that it feels like it is when you are young.
It is crucial that young men get a handle on their anger at an early age. They should be trained how to be angry but not explode in rage or use their anger for selfish advantage. They should be taught how to have more flexible expectations. They should not be allowed to have great success through the use of anger, or it will become a pattern their whole life. Allowing anger to express itself is a choice. If this idea is trained into young men at an early age, it will save them a lot of trouble.
Parents need to talk to their children about this temptation to use violence for selfish purposes. They need to talk about the fact that boys will be exposed to others who make a life out of intimidating, hurting, hitting, and even murdering people who do not do what they want.