Many seek the ruler's favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord. Proverbs 29:26
Where do you get justice in our world? Today's proverb weighs in on this issue in a way that reminds us that we need to keep an eternal perspective on all things. This world may seek what they call justice from the officials who rule over it, but true justice for mankind comes from God.
Many do seek the ruler's favor - and consider that justice. The problem comes when you realize that rulers are not always righteous. There are rulers and officials who receive bribes and favors to turn justice toward the one who gave them. Another problem arises when you read the statement that "many" seek the ruler's favor. That means if your bribe is not high enough, you lose. If someone else comes along and offers something more or something better, justice goes to the highest bidder. Such was the case with Haman, Mordecai, and Esther. Haman, angry with Mordecai because he would not bow down to him - paid a ridiculous amount of money to the king to have "his justice" enforced. That justice did not involve punishment on Mordecai - but on the entire nation of Israel. He did not want Mordecai to be punished alone - he wanted the extermination of his entire race. The price was right - and a decree was made to have the Jews destroyed kingdom-wide. Thus goes justice when you seek the ruler's favor. The real problem for Haman though, was the justice he bought was not final. When Esther gave two banquets for the king, told him he was a Jew, and on top of all this the king later learned that Mordecai had saved his life - the price for this justice went much higher. In the end, justice from the king meant Haman's hanging, the destruction of his entire family, and the destruction of Israel's enemies in the city and throughout the kingdom.
God warns those He puts in authority repeatedly against taking bribes perverting justice for a price. Although power can corrupt - and absolute power can corrupt absolutely - God alone is the One Who cannot be corrupted. Therefore wisdom tells us that, "justice for man comes from the Lord." God's justice is based on His perfect righteousness and justice. He does not have such things - He IS such things. God does not base justice on a set of laws given by others - He is the Lawgiver, He is the Source of righteousness, and He is the Judge. His throne is founded on justice and righteousness. When He speaks, He speaks with absolute authority - and - with absolute, perfect just and right decisions. When He speaks and judges - His statements are final - and always beyond question. Here is what He said about Himself when revealing Himself to Moses. "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-8) God is just - but our salvation is not His justice, but His mercy and grace.
Justice for man truly does come from The Lord. The gospel bears this out. God is just and the Justifier of the one who believes in Jesus Christ. He carried out His perfect, absolute justice when Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. If there ever was a time when God might have set aside justice and righteousness - it would have been for His Son. But God's justice is perfect - and Christ had to die for sins for man to be forgiven and made righteous in God's sight. Thus the fullness of God's justice and wrath fell on His Son that day. But . . . as a result, justice for man comes from the Lord. We have a choice - to face the full brunt of God's wrath for our sins ourselves - or to turn to Jesus Christ, believe on Him, and receive grace and mercy. The Just God - had His justice satisfied by the death of His Son for sin. Now He will justify (declare rightoeous) anyone who turns to His Son in repentance and faith. No man can offer such a thing. Therefore the wise man is the one who seeks absolute justice, not from fickle men who can change justice as often as they change socks, but from God. He will not only give just decisions here on earth between men - but will give the ultimate justice to us in heaven - not based on us paying the price of our sins - but based on the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the wicked increase, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall. Proverbs 29:16
There is a principle at work here - and one that has been seen again and again in the world. The more the wicked increase in a society, the more that the society will turn toward wickedness. This is not a recent phenomenon - it has been happening ever since the fall of man. In fact, one of the most powerful examples of it was not long after man fell into sin.
We read in Geneis chapter 6 of this kind of situation. "Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose." The progression here is fascinating to see. First the wicked began to multiply. You might wonder why I think the wicked multiplied - and not the godly. The reason for this is because man is sinful - and will always orient himself toward his sin and ungodliness unless God intervenes by His grace to change things. The next step was that the wicked began to modify - and they modified God's intention for marriage. They married at will - based on something other than God's plan. This led to the wicked multipliying even more. The god-desired role of the family was perverted and rather than pass on godliness - men began to pass on and even grow in his wickedness.
We read in verse 5 of that same chapter of Genesis, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Two more things began to happen. The wicked began to magnify their wickedness. God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth. The original intent for creation was to magnify the Creator, God. Now it was filled with men who magnified the creation, man. The second thing that happened was the the Wicked began to meditate on their wickedness. Every intent of the thoughts of their heart became evil continually. God's desire was for men to meditate on Him and His Word - instead, they meditated on their godless desires - which led to even worse conditions.
The wicked then turned to mayhem and murder in their wickedness. God said the following to Noah about this in verse 13 of chapter 6 of Genesis. “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth." James warns us in chapter 4 of his letter that the cause of our fighting is our lusts that wage war within us. This leads us to even kill so that we can fulfill our lusts that rage for more within us. The sad ending of all this is that the choices of the wicked led to the condemnation of the wicked. God destroyed that generation.
As we turn our attention back to our proverb - we see just what Solomon is communicating to his sons - and to all who would read these words. When the wicked increase, transgression among men increases as well. But in the end the righteous will see their fall. Wickedness cannot reign long in a land - it consumes it to a point of catastrophe. It did so in Noah's day - and we read that as it was in the days of Noah, so also it shall be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. The ungodly will always be ungodly - and the wicked will seek to multiply their wickedness. But what is there for us to learn from this - just don't be wicked? No, there is a message for us today - one that will magnify the grace of God in the gospel.
How can we keep the wicked from increasing? Every time a child is born - another ungodly heart enters the human race. We are fallen - and we multiply into more fallen men and women over time. The answer lies in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the ONLY way that we can stem the tide of the wicked multiplying on the earth. We must multiply! We must be about sharing Jesus Christ with all who are around us. We must take the one thing that can take a wicked heart and transform it into a godly one. That one thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ! Jesus sent us into the world to make disciples of all the nations. As the early church took that mandate seriously they multiplied disciples - leading them to Christ - baptizing them as they identified with Christ - teaching them to obey all Jesus commands - and then doing it in each and every generation until the end of the age. This, and only this, can stand against the wicked and their wickedness multiplying in a society! May God give us grace to accept no substitutes in this matter - no political or social or military option which in the end will only fail. May we see that the glorious mandate to minister the gospel - and make disciples IS God's only answer for our world!
The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, And the treacherous is in the place of the upright. Proverbs 21:18
When reading this proverb one gets the idea that the wicked pay the price for the salvation of the righteous - but that is not what the Scriptures are saying here. What is being communicated is that often the wicked pays the price for how they treat the righteous. That cost is usually to have their own evil plans come down upon their own head. The best example of this is found in the book of Esther.
Haman is the villian in the book of Esther. It is his evil mind that hatches the idea of getting revenge on Mordecai for his supposed irreverence by destroying not only him, but his entire race. Money is given to the king - a bargain is struck - letters are written - and soon the entire Jewish people are under a death sentence in the future. The rest of the book of Esther shows us God's sovereignty through the hand of His providence working again and again on behalf of His people Israel. In the end, the plot put in place by Haman comes down upon his own head - destroying not just him, but his entire family before the book ends.
Throughout history attempt after attempt has been made to destroy the work of God by destroying the people of God. Again and again God has worked wonderfully to deliver His people individually and coporately. Daniel is thrown into a lion's den for his audacity to pray to anyone besides the earthly king - and yet is delivered by the hand of God. Who is destroyed in this plot? The very men who planned and put it into place where thrown into the lion's den and crushed and killed once Daniel was lifted out. Nebuchadnezzar casts the three friends of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego into a firey furnace thinking to kill them in the process for not bowing down and worshipping his idol. Once his dastardly deed is done he is shocked to see the men walking around the fire with the pre-incarnate Christ unharmed - while the brave soldiers who threw them in are killed instantly in their task. Ahab sends 50 men to forcefully bring Elijah to himself - and yet fire falls from heaven and consumes two groups of them as they draw near. These historical accounts happen throughout the Scriptures revealing that the wicked and treacherous become the payment for their own wickedness while the righteous and upright are delivered.
It is an unwise thing to try to annihilate the people of God. It is also an unwise thing to attempt to kill His spokesmen, the prophets. Those who try will learn an oft taught lesson that God will deliver His people - and bring the ways of the wicked upon their own heads and even at times on the heads of their children and followers. The truly wise man honors the upright and the righteous - knowing that their defender is strong - and also knowing that He can take any plot and any plan and turn it around so that the destroyer becomes the destroyed.
Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and blows for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29
The New Testament reminds us in Romans that if we obey the Law, we will have no fear of judgment or punishment. Thus, the man who is driving the speed limit does not have his heart jump when he sees the speed trap too late on the highway. He has no fear of being caught doing anything wrong - because he's not doing anything wrong. But the scoffer who has no regard for the Law - who actually mocks it and speaks out against it - he has no such peace. The fool who is ignorant of the law and who loves his folly and sin - he too will know no such peace.
We are reminded that judgments are prepared for the scoffers. This refers to the Word of God. The fact that many miss is that God has already pronounced His judgments on those who scoff at His Word. He has given His commandments and also offered His warnings to those who ignore them - and who indeed ignore Him. There is no lack of passages in Scripture to remind us that God will judge the wicked - and that those who reject Jesus Christ face a terrifying specter of God's unreserved wrath. Therefore, if you are a scoffer, you can know exactly what you will get from God for your scoffing.
We are also reminded that there are blows for the backs of fools. The fool is the one who enjoys his folly - and ignores God's Word. He loves his foolishness and will not turn away from it. He has no use for anything that restrains what he wants - what His flesh cries out for each moment of each day. Thus the only way to reach this one and turn him from his way is by blows to the back. This brings howls of protest from those who think any kind of punitive action that involves physical striking as punishment is evil. But the facts tend to speak for themselves. Countries that bring quick judgment to bear on those who disobey the law - are also countries that do not have an abundance of lawless behavior in their country.
A few years ago a young man was caned in Singapore for breaking their law. Our nation was horrified as they considered what was about to happen. But the facts in Singapore stand on their own. The type of lawlessness this young American man embraced was almost non-existent in their culture. Their culture is this way because people see the cost of their actions - in literal blows that will come to them. Therefore they stay away from such behaviors. The cries that such laws and actions increase violence are not founded in fact. The violent societies are those who refuse to bring blows upon the backs of the fools who violate their laws. There is actually LESS violence in societies who punish with physical blows. There is a very real deterrent when you are facing real consequences for your actions.
Our nation has become obsessed with the rights of criminals. We are so concerned about possibly infringing upon their rights that we have forgotten the victims of their actions. In our march toward perfect justice (which does not exist) we have committed the greatest injustice to those injured by scoffers and fools. What needs to happen is for our nation to return to the principles of true justice and righteousness. This will also require us to return to judgments that make a fool pay for his actions. He will no longer be coddled by the justice system, but rather held accountable for choices that have injured and affected others. Maybe then we can move away from our current insanity - and toward a more just and righteous society.
Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand. Proverbs 19:21
There is a practice among Christians - and honestly - I am ashamed to admit that I have followed this practice at times in my life. The practice of which I speak is that of making plans - carrying them out - and then later blaming them on God or on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Let me give you an example of this practice. There was a time when I really wanted to do a certain thing. Over time this plan, which was in my heart, began to dominate my mind and my thinking. One day I decided that I would do it - and honestly - without really taking it to the Lord and seeing if it was His will or not. As "the plans of my heart" continued to be implemented, I would tell people that God had led me to do this - or that the Holy Spirit put this on my heart. Well, as with all plans of men that arise out of their flesh - the plans of my heart crashed and burned. But now my resposne was to tell people God was responsible for leading me into them.
This kind of thing happens again and again in the Christian world. There are people who promise and swear that God is the One who led them into a certain choice or action - when it is pretty clear from a study of Scripture that this choice is unscriptural. I've had people tell me that God was leading them to divorce their wife. I've had young ladies tell me that God was the one who led them to date a non-Christian. They joyfully asserted that God was going to bring their young man to Christ. In the end - someone was converted - but it was not the non-Christian. That is why today's proverb is so important for us to understand.
There are many plans in the hearts of men. These plans reside in a heart that is fallen - and in a heart and mind that desperately needs repentance. As a result, as Paul has said, their understanding is darkened - and they are unable to come to godly decisions. "But I am a Christian," some will assert - as if simply being a Christian guarantees that we will always make decisions in concert with the will of God. The fact is that if we are not renewing our minds with the Word of God we are prone to fatal errors in judgment. The fact is that if we are not denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Christ - we will be sadly mistaken about a myriad of things. The fact is that if we are not trusting in the Lord with all our heart, not leaning on our own understanding - acknowledging Him in all our ways - He will not be directing our paths. The fact is without these things happening daily - and even hourly - we will be directing our own paths. The "many plans" that dwell in our heart naturally - will be what lead us.
The proverb today tells us that it is, "the counsel of the Lord" that will stand in the end. What is the "counsel of the Lord?" In previous posts we have seen that this word "counsel" refers not to advice given that we can either choose to follow or not. It is not just God's opinion on something that we can reject. The word means counsel that is given that is expected to be followed. This is God's Word - the Scriptures - and when God offers His counsel on a matter - that matter is decided. To do anything else is now disobedience and rebellion against God. I know that sounds harsh to our post-modern way of thinking - but what has post-modernism brought us that will stand in the end?
This proverb is kind of a warning to us. The warning is this . . . you have many plans in your heart. This fact is not denied. The problem is that your plans are not guaranteed to stand. They may be good ideas or they may be bad ones. You may even have plans that succeed according to the ways of this present world. But the fact is that the only plans that will stand are God's plans. Nothing else will stand - ever. And please understand that God is speaking on an eternal basis. It is one thing to have our plans blessed in the short term - but quite another for them to be blessed now, and forever more. Psalm 73 speaks of how David saw the wicked prospering and almost lost his faith over it. But then he came into the sanctuary and into God's counsel. He saw that although their plans were doing well for the short term - in the long term there were serious - even infinite problems with their way of living. In the end they were destroyed and consumed. They fell all at once - and there was no recovery for them. Their plans - all those plans that were in their heart - led them to a short term prosperity here and now . . . but to an eternal judgment in the long term because they had no regard for the counsel of the Lord.
Here is a quick way to make sure your plans are blessed beyond the short-term. Consider how your plans will fare at the judgment seat of Christ. Think using the Scriptures. Think and consider your plans with an eternal outlook. I can guarantee you that a billion years into the afterlife - no one will be patting themselves on the back in hell. They won't be joking about how good they had it back during the 60-70 years they were alive and doing their own thing - living according to the "plans that were in their own heart." They won't find it comforting to see how they "outsmarted God" for a few years while they ignored all His warnings about their choices and behavior. What will be of comfort for all eternity is the fact that God's counsel stood - and will stand forever. The plans of His heart will be established and therefore, it is that counsel and those plans that we should seek to know and follow.
A man of
great anger will bear the penalty, For if you rescue him,
you will only have to do it again. Proverbs 19:19
The "hot-head" is the focus of this proverb. The man who has a firey disposition and who is in the habit of responding and reacting to what happens to him in angry outbursts. He reacts to things with a rage - in fact what this passage says is that he does so with "great" rage. The word here is "gadol" which means something huge, mamoth, and gargantuan in size. This is not normal anger - it is enraged anger that loses control. What does God say to us about this kind of man? What does the Lord counsel us concerning acting on his behalf?
First of all God says that a man who has such huge anger issues is one who will bear the penalty of his actions. The word for penalty is "ownes" and means a fine, penalty, and referred to the fines that were levied against those who violated the law. The picture that is painted for us with the use of this particular word is that of someone whose anger lands them in jail. The enraged explosion they unleash on those who are the target of their anger goes beyond the law - and honestly - is very dangerous. You've heard of the man who in anger goes and gets a gun and returns to the bar or the house - and shoots the person with whom he is angry? That is this person's anger tactic at its worst. To join with this fellow is to risk being put in jail with him - for his actions are going to cross the line - and become illegal.
Second, we are told not to continue to resuce this man from his angry outbursts. The problem with him is that he does not learn from his previous outbursts. Instead - he continues in his rage and does it again and again. We are warned that if we rescue him from his outrageous outbursts - we will have to do it again. He does not need to be rescued from the consequences of his actions - instead he needs to face them squarely. Rescuing him from them will only mean that he will do it again. There is a lesson for him that can only be learned from facing stiff penalties for his outrageous behavior.
While we are dealing with this proverb, I would like to share something a very wise man taught me about anger - and something that can help those who struggle with it. This godly man said to me the following, "We become angry because we cannot control situations or people. When we cannot control them, we become infuriated at whatever or whoever is not doing what they should be doing - so we can be comfortable and uninterrupted in what WE want to do." This was, at the time, a devastating analysis of anger to me. I considered an angry outburst I had toward one of my children. According to this definition - my anger was not, as I asserted, because my child "made" me angry. My anger arose because my child was not doing what I wanted - and was interrupting what I wanted to be doing. Needless to say I was instantly convicted - repented - and had quite the crow-filled meal as I asked my son to forgive me. Later, when I realized I was not only angry at my son - I was also angry at God, Who in His perfect providence, decided that what I needed was an opportunity to be patient and kind. What I really wanted was a trial and testing free zone about me at all times. This led to a second meal of abundant crow as I sought God's forgiveness for my pride and arrogance in wanting Him to serve me in the providence He provided for me.
Anger - outbursts of anger - are a dangerous thing. We need to bear the penalty of these things so that we see them for what they are - manifestations of our pride and desire to control everything in our lives. We need to see them as a reminded that we DO NOT CONTROL our own lives. Angry outbursts are a warning sign to us that we are wanting the world around us to serve us at all times. This will NOT be the case - and unless we learn this - we will only have more of these times of "great anger" that will cost us dearly. Oh, to learn humility and submission to God and His providence quickly. Those who don't learn this - learn to feast on a whole lot of crow in their lives.
A wicked man receives a bribe from the bosom To pervert the ways of justice. Proverbs 17:23
When someone reverts to bribing others in matters of justice - you can guarantee that they are doing so because they are guilty of the charge that has been brought. That is what we learn from today's proverb of the day.
The "wicked man" to whom this proverb refers is a man who is guilty of the offense with which he is charged. The Hebrew word used here is "rasha" which means someone who is guilty or wrong. It is used of people who are transgressors, criminals, and honestly - who are just plain wicked. The word is an antonym of the Hebrew word "saddiyq" which has as its meaning - to be righteous or in the right. Therefore someone who is turning to a bribe is wrong - and therefore guilty as charged. When used in the Old Testament it refers to those who are enemies of God - and enemies of His people. God is a God of righteousness and justice - therefore anyone who desires to pervert true justice will find themselves an enemy of God.
The phrase ". . . from the bosom" has the idea of someone who is slipping money to another in a secret fashion. This is how most bribes pass hands - through subversive and secretive ways. This happens because the wicked man offering them - and the wicked man receiving them to pervert justice - both do not want to be exposed. Therefore everything is done in a cloak and dagger fashion.
This is done to "pervert the ways of justice." The one offering it is wicked - and the one receiving it is perjerous. They perjure themselves - for they make it clear that truth is not something they value (at least not as much as money). Where such judges rule - there cannot be justice - because the hearts of such men are corrupted by various means to twist justice as the bribes have purchased. In 1973 Charles Ashman wrote a book entitled, The Finest Judges Money Can Buy. This is a very depressing book because it exposes the chronic problem of bribes in our own justice system. In his book Ashman reveals eight judges involved in Mafia-type organizations, ten who were guilty of receiving bribes, sixteen who were guilty of petter larceny, at least six who were guilty of sexual impropriety, seven who were guilty of being drunk on the job, and ten more who have used their position and authority for impure political gain. Those who bemoan the corruption in our nation should see clearly one of the chief reasons it exists - and that is gross corruption in our legal system. This is why God makes it clear to all the judges within the biblical judicial system that they were NEVER to take a bribe to pervert justice. God also promises special judgment upon those who do!
The one thing we can be eternally grateful for is that our ultimate judge is nothing like these men and women who parade as judges, yet have no integrity. He is the One Who sits enthroned - and Whose very throne is founded upon justice and righteousness. He hears and sees all things - and judges accordingly. He is incorruptible and cannot make an unjust decision, for such a decision is contrary to His very nature which is holiness and purity. When it came down to how God would deal with sin, He even judged His only Son when He took sin upon Himself. He is completely and absolutely just and righteous in all that He does. Therefore know that although justice and righteousness may not be given to us here on this fallen earth - we can know that there will be a day when God will judge ALL men according to His righteous standard.
Therefore be of good cheer and be greatly comforted! Your God has the ultimate bar of justice - which will be held before Him alone. In the meantime, we can thank Him daily for His gracious kindness and for His unparalleled love!
The evil will bow down before the good, And the wicked at the gates of the righteous. Proverbs 14:19
The word good in today's Proverb is so key to understanding this verse. It means that which is truly good - to its very core. This kind of good has love itself as its guiding principle. These men tend to rise in the world - or at least are ones who are still standing when the wicked man comes to the end that he deserves. It is at that point in their lives that they wind up bowing down before the good - and before the gates of the righteous.
Consider the story of Joseph and his brothers in the book of Genesis. Joseph was a good man - maybe a little proud in his early years - but still a good man. He faced a great deal of adversity in his life, starting with being sold into slavery by his own brothers. His brothers, on a different trek, seemed to be doing well for most of their lives after their evil deed of selling their brother into slavery. Then came the famine that struck the Middle East so hard that all nations wound up coming to Egypt for grain because of Joseph's wise stewardship of their years of abundance. That was when things changed.
The brothers who at one time stood above the pit where Joseph pleaded for mercy, were now coming before an Egyptian ruler begging for food. When their youngest brother was found to have a golden cup in his sack of food - they tore their clothes and begged for mercy before one to whom they had shown no mercy. What they found was that he was a good man - and after testing their hearts to see if they had changed - he spoke kindly to them, fed them, and sent them back to get his father. This was truly the picture of the evil and the wicked bowing down before the good and godly man.
The ultimate picture of this though is seen in our approach to the throne of God. We are truly the evil and wicked when it comes to standing in the judgment before our God. There is no way that we can have favor there - and should only expect judgment. Yet the Only One who is truly good will be standing there - or more properly - will be sitting on that throne of judgment. In that day as we bow before Him, we will find that if we responded to the gospel with repentance and faith - we will be graciously received. As we approach the gate of the righteous we will also find that the Righteous One is there awaiting us with His blood by which we are forgiven, made righteous, and accepted into the presence of God. There has never been more of a reason to joyfully shout to God - than for the grace that will be poured out upon us in that day. We will gladly bow before Him - and acknowledge our wickedness and sin - finding in him the only thing by which we can be saved.
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25
Lately our world has gotten crazier and crazier. Knowing what I know because of the reading that I do can really get a guy down. That is why today's proverb is an encouraging word to me - and a reminder that every once in a while I need to hear or read a good word. If all I partake of are words of doom, gloom, and despair over the condition of mankind - I will be overcome by dread. That is why it is a good thing to simply review the gospel - and the blessings of God in my life.
We are told that anxiety in a man's heart will weigh it down. The word for anxiety here speaks of the apprehension that comes upon a man because he sees approaching trouble. The interesting thing is that what this speaks of is anxiety over trouble that we cannot change. There are some things that we cannot change. When God speaks His Word to a nation like ours - and warns of impending judgment - we cannot change this. Therefore to dwell on such things constantly will weigh us down. When God speaks about foolish rulers and foolish societies that bury themselves in debt. When He says that there will be a day of reckoning where these debts will destroy that nation. But there is little that we can do to turn our nation around - it is counter productive to us to spend too much time worrying and being apprehensive about what is coming.
When looking at this verse I go back to the prophets who brought God's Word of judgment to His people. I consider Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel who prophesied disasters that were coming upon Israel and Judah for their sins. How did these men continue in their ministry without being weighed down and overwhelmed. First of all, these men were overwhelmed for periods. I am not sure anyone could not be grieved and weighed down by what these men were hearing. But, their focus did not remain at all times on these things. This would have caused unbearable apprehension if they did.
What allowed these prophets of God to stay sane was the fact that God not only revealed judgment (when necessary), but He also revealed a good word to them as well. Their messages were a mixture of judgment, and promises to revive and restore God's people. Their prophecies included wonderful words about the coming Messiah. This was the good word that would make their hearts glad. It was these messages that gave them something to look forward to in the future. We need those "good words" to buoy our spirits and help us to know that in the end God will indeed wipe every tear from our eye.
If you are depressed about the state of the church, nation, or world, let me take a moment and give you a strong word of advice. Every once in a while (and my advice would be daily - or at least every couple of days) take the time to remind yourself of the truths of the gospel. Take time to look at subjects like heaven. These things will help us maintain a healthy balance in our spiritual lives. If we don't do this we will have the tendency to be overwhelmed at the mess that is all around us. That mess can bring us down and even weigh on us to the point of depression. Remember the gospel. Remember the blessings of God. Remember the promise of heaven. This will serve as a good word that will make your heart glad.
If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, How much more the wicked and the sinner! Proverbs 11:31
One thing that is absolutely certain in life is that there will be a judgment once our life is over. Some may deny this truth - but their denial will not keep it from happening. This chapter of Proverbs that has often contrasted the righteous and the wicked, will do it one last time before closing. But the contrast here is in the reward or recompense that they will receive.
The proverb begins with a sure statement. The righteous will be rewarded in the earth! There will be a reward for God's people for their faithfulness to following and obeying Him. Over and over God has given us promises that if we will do something, He will reward us for doing it. Those deeds are characterized for us by the fact that God says the reward here is for "the righteous." Therefore if we value as right what God says is right - there will be great blessing in store for us. There is reward for doing right.
The flip side of this blessing and reward is punishment and recompense. If the righteous is rewarded for his doing of what is right - how much more will we not also see the wicked and the sinner recompensed for their opposite behavior. The Hebraism that is being used here is one that says - the right will be rewarded right, therefore of course the wicked and evil will be rewarded evil as well. In a very Hebrew way the text is saying that we will reap what we sow.
One last comment comes from the reading of the Septuagint, Syrian, and Arabic versions of the Bible. They translate this verse as follows: "And if the righteous scarecely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" This is what Peter quoted in 1 Peter 4:18
- and many Hebrew scholars believe he quoted it from Proverbs 11:31
Judgment is coming . . . and the wise man will prepare for it over a lifetime. He does so by turning his heart to the Lord. We know from the New Testament that the only way a favorable judgment can be rendered to us is by receiving the forgiveness and grace offered through Jesus Christ. That grace though, will change us so that we will embrace righteousness as a lifestyle. That is what John tells us in 1 John when he writes, "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God . . . " (1 John 3:10
) We practice righteousness because we have been transformed by God's grace. But is it that righteousness that we embrace and practice that proves that we are truly His. The wise man will embrace this righteousness and receive a sure reward. All that will be left for the wicked and the sinner is the surety of a terrifying end before a holy and just God.