Let’s read that verse. Proverbs 21:16 says, “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.”

The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon as we read in Proverbs 1:1, “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.” The word ‘proverb is’ defined as “properly, a pithy maxim, usually of metaphorical nature; hence, a simile (as an adage, poem, discourse).

Many of the proverbs consist of one sentence and are very often stand-alone remarks. Proverbs 21:16 is such a proverb. It is a warning to the person who would forsake understanding, or wisdom. Even before this verse, the Proverbs speak of the importance of having understanding:

• Proverbs 4:5, “Get wisdom, GET UNDERSTANDING: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.”
• Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting GET UNDERSTANDING.”
• Proverbs 16:16, “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to GET UNDERSTANDING rather to be chosen than silver!”

For one to learn truths concerning the Lord, His mercy, and His salvation, and then wander away from (reject) that understanding…denying its validity and value, this man has nowhere to go except for the company of the spiritually dead. This would include those still living, but spiritually dead, and those who are eternally dead because of their unbelief.

I liken this truth to what we read in Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

For one to see the truth of God’s love and the gift of eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and then totally reject that truth, there is no where else for this man to go, except to be among the dead. When one reaches the place where he will no longer even consider placing his faith in the Lord Jesus, he exiles himself from the grace of God only to, “remain in the congregation of the dead.” (CC) (555.4)