He who pursues righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness and honor. Proverbs 21:21
What are you pursuing in life? It is not unusual to hear someone say that they are pursuing a career in some field of endeavor. When we hear someone say this we know that they are puting their energies and their time into study and practice of that discipline. It means that they have a goal in front of them and that goal is what guides them in much of what they do. Thus the question begs to be asked, "What are your pursuing when it comes to spiritual things?"
God points us to wisdom by telling us that there are two things that are very worthy of pursuit when it comes to spiritual matters. These two things are righteousness and loyalty. Today we will take a closer look at what it means to pursue these two things. We will also see in the rewards that God says come to those to follow this pursuit the reason why this is exceedingly wise.
When God says to pursue these things He uses the word, "radaph." This word means to chase or to follow after closely and with great effort and energy. The idea is that one is not just to pursue - but one is to overtake these things. The mindset is that we will not be content with a life without righteousness and without loyalty. These are things we must have - and thus in our pursuit we are passionate and totally committed. This is not a hobby or just something to add to our resume. This is a hot pursuit that is pleased only with the eventual 'catching' or 'having' of these things. Nothing else will do.
We pursue righteousness - which in Hebrew is "tsedequah." This word means righteousness abstractly - but when applied to how we live our lives it speaks of moral rectitude - of a desire to have our lives measure up to a standard of right and good that is found in God and in His Word. It speaks of living a life of justice in how we relate to others and especially how we relate to the poor and unfortunate. The word refers to a moral standard that is not set according to the world and its views. The moral standard and sentiment we embrace is that which is found in the pages of Scripture. Yet the righteousness we seek is not by law. The Scriptures which speak of this righteousness say that we obtain it by faith. It is not a set of rules - it is a person - the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately we pursue Him for only He can transform us and make us righteous.
We also pursue loyalty. The Hebrew word used here is "chesed" which refers to more than just a loyalty. This is the word that most closely relates to the New Testament word grace. It is the word that is used to describe God's love and commitment to His covenant people. It is easily translated, "covenant-love." Paul says to us in the New Testament to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. What we are to pursue in life is the grace of God. We live by grace - and advance in life by grace. In pursuing grace - we are kind of pursuing the One who is pursuing us. We pursue love and commitment. We pursue a selflessness that is evidenced by the love of God in Christ Jesus. Kind of cool here to see that even in an Old Testament proverb we are told to pursue righteousness by faith and a God who gives us such a righteousness by His loving, selfless grace.
What will we find when we give ourselves to such a pursuit? We are told of three things. First is that we will receive life. "Chayim" is the word for life here - and it simply means life itself. We are made alive when we pursue these two wonderful things. Consider the New Testament call to us - that when we pursue Christ, Who is the ultimate source of life - the ultimate way of life - and who is the life itself - we receive eternal life. This is the life of God, Who alone is eternal. We have a quality of life that can only be received from God Himself. Second in our set of three blessings is "righteousness." This is the same word as was used earlier - and it simply means that in seeking and pursuing righteousness - we receive righteousness as a gift by faith - through the grace of God. This does not mean we attain righteousness by our own choice of lifestyle. The fact is we are given righteousness by a gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are stunned to learn that when God gives us this gift - we are just as righteous as Jesus Himself - by God's wonderful gift - and as a result of that - we can be transformed to reflect that righteousness in all our ways. The third in this list of glorious benefits is honor. The word for honor here is "kavod" and it is the word God uses for glory. When we pursue the proper things - it is to the glory of God - and we receive from it the honor of His working in our hearts. What a glorious gift is ours - to receive the glory of salvation - the glory of God's righteousness - the glory of being at peace with God - the glory of His marvelous transformation of our lives. This is ours when we pursue the One Who in His mercy pursues us by grace.
Want to know what to pursue in life? Pursue God! That is the ultimate answer when all is said and done with today's proverb. It is a wise thing to pursue God - and to pursue His righteousness by His grace. This is both the ultimate pursuit in life and the ultimate prize! Oh the glories of pursuing the One Who pursues us! Oh the joy of capturing the One Who by grace captures our hearts. Pursue, dearest saints - pursue for you will find as you do - that you are gloriously pursued by the One Who loves you more than you could ever dream of being loved!
Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you. Proverbs 20:22
Revenge is something that is very dangerous. We are told by today's proverb not to say that we ourselves will repay the evil done to us. Instead we are to wait for the Lord to be the One who saves us. There are two interesting examples of this - and Solomon was well aware of both of them. These two examples were Saul and David. They were the opposite ends of this issue of taking our own vengeance and repaying the evil done to us. They are also the difference between blessing and destruction.
Saul started out his career being wise in this way. When he became king some scoffed at him - and did not bring him any kind of present - on a day when presents were in order. Shortly after this God allowed a situation where Saul proved his worth - and showed that he indeed was fit and called to be king. When some wanted to bring vengeance on these men who rebuffed Solomon, his response was wise. He said that no one was going to be put to death, because God was gracious and had been good to His people. Thus Solomon allowed the Lord to defend him. But later in life Saul no longer followed the Lord - and began to be rebellious to God's purposes. When he faced a supposed wrong by the priests of the Lord - he reacted violently. Even though the priests acted without any knowledge of any kind of rebellion, Saul had the entire city, men, women, and children put to death. Thus was his reign marred by a continual desire to repay any suspected slight or evil done to him.
David was much different. He was wronged repeatedly by Saul and by those who followed him. Yet twice David rejected the opportunity to kill Saul - even when God put the opporutnity to do so. He saw Saul as God's annointed and therefore a man to be honored. His statement to the men with him who desired to put Saul to death was that God would be the One to bring Saul down - but David would not take his own vengeance and repay the evils done to him. David was blessed greatly because of this -a nd God greatly prospered his kingdom. God also blessed David with deliverance after deliverance.
Saul . . . he experienced something much diffferent than David. Saul went crazy - he was mad - he lost his mind. This is what happens to us when we think we have to defend ourselves against every slight and every evil done to us. This is a responsibility and a weight on our minds that we cannot carry. Soon the world itself is against us - and everyone and everything is suspect. This will make you lose your mind - just like Saul did. The way to peace is through forgiveness.
When we choose to forgive the evils done to us we are blessed. We are adopting the mind and heart of God, Who chose to forgive even though it cost His Son His life to do so. Our minds, when we forgive, are loosed from the constant torture of remembering the wrongs done to us. They are set free from bitterness which will consume our sanity like a dry forest is consumed by a fire driven by dry winds. We are free to give all our slights to God and allow Him Who sits on the throne to determine how to measure out justice and righteousness. Since there is only one ultimate throne in this universe - with only One Who sits upon it - truly, only He can mete out perfect justice. We are liberated from decisions taht are beyond our ability to make.
As long as we live in a fallen world there are going to be slights, problems, evils, and injustices that come our way. The wisdom that God offers to us today recognizes these things and gives us a way to deal with them without losing our minds. In the process we are protected from the deeper damage these things can do to us - and we are given the glorious priviledge of forgiving others - which is when we reflect both His character and His glory most.
A truthful witness saves lives, But he who utters lies is treacherous. Proverbs 14:25
Here is a proverb that at first glance deals with being truthful or a liar. But as we look at what God is truly saying in this proverb, we see that this goes farther into what we are sharing with others - and whether we are sharing a saving message or a treacherous one that will cost people everything when that day comes upon all the living and the dead.
I am going to comment on this proverb from the last phrase first. The one who utters lies is treacherous. There are those who share things that are not truth on a mere earthly level. This is called lying - and the Bible says that we are not to bear false witness to our neighbor. This simply means we are not to lie to others. So on a mere earthly level it is sinful to speak lies to others. It hurts relationships and betrays trust, which is so important to the very bedrock upon which they are built. But there is a greater sin - and that is being one who speaks lies about things that are beyond the earthly. They lie about heaven - about eternity - about God.
There are those who do this very blatently. Atheists like Richard Dawkins and his fellow mockers write quite voluminously about their opposition to God, His Word, and His salvation. They offer no honest alternative except a life lived for self as God. Thus they bring a very "treacherous" message. They mocking turns people from the things of God - as their flesh desires - and they put God and His gospel out of their minds. They see this as freeing because they no longer think themselves under His law - no longer bridled by His moral restraints. But truly their message is treacherous - because they still must stand at the judgment seat of the One whom they deny. Like the fool who stands in the street denying the existance of the bus barreling down the road toward them - they will find that denying God's existance does nothing to stop the inevitability of His sure and exactlng judgment. On that day how they will be ashamed at their false and damning beliefs - but that day will be too late. The treachery complete - they will join Dawkins and all his mates in hell where they will be tormented for their foolishness and unbelief.
This is not how it has to be though. God speaks a blessing on those who are truthful witnesses. We are told that a truthful witness saves lives. Here is where we see this proverb transcend the physical. True, speaking the truth to someone can save their life physically - as the one who confronts the drug user or alcoholic that there is a horrible demise awaiting them at the end of the road of their lifestyle. But what we are dealing with is a salvation dealing with more than just our physical lives. The truthful witness shares the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ with those who need to hear it. They speak the truth regardless of whether it makes them popular or not. They consider popularity with God infinitely superior to the familiarity of those on earth whose opinion of each other changes as often as the wind changes directions. They know that there is a God and that we must stand before Him on that fateful, yet glorious day. They know that there is nothing that will stand on that day but perfection - the absolute righteousness that God demands when He says, "Therefore be perfect, as God is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) There is no way we can achieve this standing for our righteousness is as filthy rags before the perfect God of this universe. Thus we must turn to His provision - which is the only way and the only hope for us for eternity. He made Him who knew no sin, to become sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20) This is the answer - and it is the only answer acceptable in that day.
The world may hate this, but it is true nevertheless. We have a choice therefore as His children and His ambassadors. Are we going to be treacherous to our friends, neighbors, and associates - or truthful? Do not take this choice lightly - for the difference between obedience and rebellion on this point will often be the difference between others seeing you as a true friend or a treacherous one. It is the difference beteween life and death. Speak the truth saints - whether it is popular or not - whether it is socially acceptable or the word by which you are made a social outcast. There is nothing more important than being a truthful witness who saves lives!
He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like the green
leaf. Proverbs 11:28
What makes you feel safe and secure? What do you rely upon to make you confident about these things. Today in our look at Proverbs we will see how two types of people seek security and safety, but how only one of them will truly obtain it.
Our proverb tells us of a man who "trusts in his riches." The word for trust is the Hebrew word "batah" which means to not just trust, but to have a confident trust. This man feels secure and safe - without fear - as a result of his riches. He may have a bank account that is full - a set of stocks that are the best on the market in returns - plus a sure-fire business model that assures him of success in life for years and years to come. This is what makes him feel confident - his wealth. Here is the problem with this man. Scripture tells us that the one who trusts in his riches will fall. This word is a very frightening one. It means to fall down to a prostrate position. Here it has the idea of being overthrown. The overthrow described here is death. Regardless of what amount of money you have - and how secure that you think it is - your money will not survive your death. In Psalm 49:5-9
we read the following, "
Why should I fear in days of adversity, When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me, even those who trust in their wealth And boast in the abundance of their riches? No man can by any means redeem his
brother Or give to God a ransom for him— for the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying
forever— that he should live on eternally, That he should not undergo decay."
The Psalmist here reminds us that no amount of money will be able to pay for a soul and the redemption it needs. The man who trusts in his wealth - who thinks that the abundance of his riches will rescue him from death and from the punishment due for his sins - is in for a tremendous amount of disappointment. The day will come when he will stand on the same footing as any other human being - and have to give an account for his sin. If anything, the fact that he has wealth and riches will make his judgment even more stringent. Jesus said that to whom much is given - much will be required. The man who trusted in his riches rather than trusting in Jesus Christ - will end up in the lake of fire for all eternity.
The righteous are contrasted with this unwise rich man. In fact we are told that the righteous man will flourish like a green leaf. This is the man who realized that there is no amount of money that could ever pay for redemption. His desire to please God and to honor Him will make this man do everything in his power to obey God. He does not look for a righteousness based on money - or even on his own good works. He knows that the man who will flourish in this life and stand in the next is the man who has been justified (made righteous) by faith. Thus his life is not spend trying to earn God's favor and love - he knows that such things have already been purchased by the blood of Christ. His desire is rather to listen to God - walk in fellowship with Him - and - out of that fellowship enjoy spiritual growth. This is why he will flourish like the green leaf. He is not trusting in growing himself. He trusts in a God who blesses him first with righteousness to stand in His presence - and then trusts Him to lead him in the way that will glorify God in all that he does.
What are you trusting to make you secure? If you think your security depends on how much money you have here in this life - or how great your wealth and insurance coverage is - you will lose everything. If instead you see that there is only really one security issue, you will do well. If you grasp that the clear and present danger is the wrath of God for sin - you will choose the way that will make you stand righteous in that day - and that righteousness only comes through the gospel - and the gift of it by God in response to repentance and faith in those who believe on Jesus.
The hope of the righteous is gladness, But the expectation of the wicked perishes. Proverbs 10:28
The word "hope," as used in the Scriptures, means to have a confident expectation of something. The way the concept of hope is used in the rest of the world has nothing to do with Biblical hope. Worldly hope has to do with wishing for something and hoping that you get it. Biblical hope is not vain wishing - it is a confidence in something or someone that lets you know that you WILL be receiving something. With this definition in mind let us look at today's proverb.
The hope of the righteous is gladness. What is the "hope of the righteous?" That hope is that God, Who has spoken and revealed Himself and His ways in the Scriptures, will be true to His Word. The first and foremost area where this is true is in our salvation and the confident expectation that we have of being able to stand before God in the judgment. God has done what is necessary to pay for our sins. In the time of the Old Testament this was through the covenant promise that God made to Abraham. Abraham was made righteous before God by faith - as He believed God. This is what Paul presents to us in both Galatians and Romans. Those promises were further defined as the sacrificial system was put into place under Moses. The blood of those bulls, goats, and lambs were a sign of a more perfect sacrifice to come. Jesus Christ fulfilled that sacrifice when He died on the cross and paid the price for sin - forever! As a result of what God has done - the confident expectation of the righteous (those made rightreous by faith) is gladness! We are overjoyed at God's grace given to us in Jesus Christ. We are delighted at the salvation God has given to us in Him.
The second half of this proverb reminds us of the wicked - and their ignoble end. The expectation of the wicked perishes. Two things we should see here. First the wicked does not hope, the expect things. Their expectation is based on what they think they have earned. The wicked rely on their works or their religious system - which will be based on a false understanding of God. They feel that they have worked hard for their salvation - and therefore they deserve something for it. But their expectation will fade and die. There is nothing to it - and nothing they will gain from it. This is the second thing we need to see here. Their expectation perishes. That is because their expectation is in themselves. They will perish - becasue what they have done will never stand before a holy God. It is a sad reality - but it is a sure one.
What are you relying on for your eternity? Are you looking to yourself and your own religious works? If you are - both your works and you will perish. There is no hope for such a person, because they remain in their wickedness. All they will see in the day when they stand before God's judgment is His wrath. The wise man finds his righteousness not in himself - but by faith in Jesus Christ. That person will know a gladness that will never end. Hope in Jesus Christ - for that is a hope that will never disappoint.
Who can say, "I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin"? Proverbs 20:9Wisdom manifests itself by realizing that man is
sinful. That premise is rejected in most of today's society - especially among the elites who rule over the educational establishment and the world of counselling and psychiatry. The fact that they reject that man is by nature a sinner and is selfish and self-centered - dooms much of their efforts to educate and to help people deal with problems in their lives. Now there is a very bold statement - but also very true. One of the problems with modern Christianity is that we no longer feel the need in our postmodern society to have our worldview based upon the clear teaching of the Scriptures. One of the places that this is seen the clearest is in the area of the sinfulness of man and the ramifications of it in government, in education, in counselling, and in how we deal with people in our world.
The proverb here asks the simple question, "Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?'" There are several assertions that are made here. First is that of the ability to cleanse ourselves from our sin. "I have cleansed my heart." This is the belief that by our own works we can change our own hearts. Unless we begin with the sinful, selfish natural tendencies of mankind, we will think that by our education and by our laws and codes, we can change a man's heart. Such an assertion is the height of foolishness. We cannot cleanse our own hearts from our sinfulness. But an educational system based upon humanistic assertions will think that we can change our hearts by being better educated. But honestly, that only provides for smarter sinners. The issues of the human heart will only be solved by the gospel of Jesus Christ whereby a heart can be redeemed and men can be regenerated.
The second question is whether a man can say he is pure from his sin. Religious around the globe seek to do this through a myriad of different plans. Some want to try to mortify their own evil desires - while others try to abolish the concept of evil and sin altogether. Purifying ourselves assumes impurity though - and thus religious efforts to do this may involve confession and absolution of some kind. Roman Catholicism tries to answer this question through their system of confession and penance which involves admitting your sin to a confessor/priest - who after offering forgiveness - then commands penance in the form of some kind of religious activity like saying a religious phrase like the Hail Mary or Rosary - or doing a good work of some kind to earn that forgiveness. In the end, whether it is through this system - or through a Hindu or Islamic system of obtaining forgiveness - it all boils down to a works mentality. We can earn our forgiveness through doing something for God.
Christianity paints a much different picture of the process of forgiveness. Any kind of law is given to restrict sin - but more importantly to show us how impossible it is to obey it - because we are rebellious sinners. The very fact that we cannot be made righteous or pure by the law - sends us running into the arms of Christ. We learn that it is only through what He did in his death, burial, and resurrection that we can be made pure in God's sight. He paid the price for our sin - and now offers to us His own righteousness - so that we can stand before God. The answer to these two questions is given by the gospel. First of all - none of us can say that we have cleansed our own hearts. The only cleansing that will matter is the one given when we receive it by faith. That cleansing comes when we look to Jesus Christ - and admit that only He can purify our hearts and change them to be godly. The second question is answered as well by the gospel. No one can say, "I am pure from my sin," without that purity coming as a gift from God as He makes us righteous with the righteousness and purity of His Son.
Wisdom rejects a man-centered, works-centered salvation. Only a fool would think that man can solve his own problems with God - without a direct interventioin by God Himself. Any education or counselling or governmental system that is based upon that wrong assertion will fail and be crushed under the weight of man's sinfulness. Without checks and balances designed to expose and correct the selfish and self-centered tendencies of the human heart, sin will run rampant in a society that hides its eyes and pretendes it does not exist. In such a world sin will be redefined again and again to cover-up the real problem - which is a wicked and sinful heart in men. In answer to the question posed by the writer of Proverbs, "No one can say that he has cleansed his own heart, or say that he is pure from his sin." That only happens by the grace and mercy of God as He works in us by the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Jesus said Himself, "No one comes to the Father, except through Me."
mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. Proverbs 11:9
When words fly like daggers through the air you can be assured that you are dealing with a godless man. Ours is a day where it seems that the discourse in society is filled with such things. When you consider things like the news, politics, and the current climate for salcious gossip - it is a wonder that anyone in the public eye can survive it all. Many do not survive it - at least not without serious scars and damage to their character. Of course some, by their actions, deserve the things that are said about them, but others are lampooned and skewered mercilessly without cause. What we read here in today's proverb is that this kind of thing is not new to our particular time - but that there is a way that the righteous can be delivered from such things.
The godless man is the one who destroys his neighbor with his mouth. The term godless here refers to a man who is impious, filthy, and godless. The root of this word speaks of how he turns away and wants nothing to do with God. As a result we see in Scripture where one who is like this is morally unclean (Job 13:16
) and whose character lacks any of the positive aspects of godliness. Consider the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This man has NONE of these qualities. We also read in Scripture that because of this he often clashes and is in conflict with the righteous. And of course from what we read here, he is cruel to others. This godless man seeks to destroy his neighbor with his mouth. This destruction can be through perverting someone, corrupting them - but the eventual goal is to spoil or ruin or destroy them.
I hesitate to use politics as an example, except for the fact that we have watched our political discourse turn so bitterly vicious over the past 10-15 years. I know that some would assert that the political discourse has always been this way. You can read some pretty horrible things that were said about our political leaders in any generation - but - the way in which the two parties want to destroy each other has reached fever pitch in the last couple of decades. The way we speak of our President - whether he is a Republican or Democrat has really reached the level of gutter speech. I was able to vote for the first time in the Reagan election. Since that time I've watch EVERY president treated with greater disdain and with more incidiary rhetoric in the media since then. The goal is no longer to point out bad policy and direction for the country in what is said. The goal now seems to be to utterly destroy the person - and to do so with a scorched earth strategy. We seem oblivious to the fact that regardless of which side of the aisle this person sits - they are still our neighbor.
The greater problem that exists here is that what we see carried out in the public eye - is guaranteed to trickle down to the streets of our cities and the homes in which we live. When we tolerate and even participate in the open destruction of our leaders - we will not escape the climate of destructive speech that it creates in our entire society. We should learn from Paul the apostle that we are not to speak evil of a ruler of your people (Acts 23:5
). In that situation Paul was being treated wrongly in a trial by none other than the chief priest of Israel. Yet Paul rebuked himself when he responded with words that were not only critical of his actions, but filled with too much vitriol for biblical standards. He caught himself, prompted by the Spirit and the Word, and pulled himself back from the brink of being one who sought to destroy with his mouth. Some might assert that we need to fight fire with fire. When we do this - we only assure that everything will be burnt down in the end. Contrary to the spirit of this world, we fight fire with the gospel.
We read here that the rightous will be delivered through knowledge. I believe this deliverance is two-fold. First, we will be delivered from the godless who want to destroy us with their words. Several times in the New Testament we are urged to let our behavior be such that when the wicked seek to destroy us with accusations and lies - our actions and lifestyle will be such that it will answer their lies. The way we live consistently will be a rebuke to them. We will not have to answer or come back with our own attacks, because those around us will laugh them to scorn. They know us - and they will reject such attacks. That deliverance comes through "knowledge." Knowledge here is the word "daath" which means not just a head-knowledge, but one that results in discernment, insight, and wisdom. We get such knowledge from God's Word - and from a life spent seeking Him and walking with Him.
The second way I believe we will be delivered is that we will not be led into "the fight." When someone tries to destroy you with their mouth - the natural thing to experience is a strong desire to launch a counter attack. They throw stones - we throw knives. They shoot bullets - we drop bombs. You can imagine where this all leads. The righteous is delivered in part by "killing your opponent with kindness." You do not respond in kind - you respond in kindness! This changes everything. They may continue to attack, and often will(sometimes kindness drives a person who is seeking to destroy you crazy with anger). But as those around us watch the proceedings - they see clearly the one who is acting godly - and the one who is spinning out of control. In the end, we are delivered from our greatest foe - and that is not the one attacking us. We are delivered from ourselves. Something deep within wants to rise up and take control - and by the way - that is our flesh. Instead, we need to have Christ in us respond. He will grant us power to respond with kindness and love - with mercy and forgiveness. Know this - respond like this and two things will happen. First, you will be delivered from your own worst aspects of your flesh. Second, you WILL win in the end. Jesus was led like a lamb to the slaughter - and as a sheep before His shearers is silent - so He did not open His mouth. That response, dear saints, won in the end. It did at the cross - and it will for everyone who embraces Him responding like that in their lives through His Spirit now.
Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death. Proverbs 10:2
What is true treasure? When I think about this I go back to my childhood memories of the book Treasure Island
. My mind thinks of pirates and those who ride the high seas in search of that most illusive of all things - buried treasure. I consider the intrigue and the hidden motives and betrayals that await me as I read of a journey based upon a tattered treasure map. The air is heavy with excitement as the first shovel of dirt and sand is lifted on the very spot where the X is on the map. That excitement reaches fever pitch as the shovel thuds for the very first time on the chest itself.
Solomon tells us about a kind of treasure in this proverb. The phrase "ill-gotten gains," is actually the Hebrew phrase, "The treasures of wickedness." So we find that there are treasures that no matter how much they say they are worth - are actually worthless. When we seek our treasures here on earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break in and steal, we are only gathering up the treasures of wickedness. In fact, unless we are locating the X on God's map - the gospel of Jesus Christ - everything we think is true treasure is only a chest filled with filthy rags. Let me explain further.
Solomon tells us in the second half of this proverb, "but righteousness delivers from death." What a powerful phrase he has just uttered. What a prophetic phrase it is as well. Any treasure that cannot deliver us from death is not a treasure at all. This is where we begin to see there is only one treasure that we should desire. The Scriptures say some interesting things about this Treasure. Jesus asked the question, 'What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?' (Matthew 16:26
) There is an interesting question. What will you give in exchange for your soul? What amount of money or earthly treasure will pay the price for our souls? The psalmist answers that question when he says, 'No man can by any means redeem his
brother Or give to God a ransom for him—For the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying
forever.' (Psalm 49:7-8
There is NO price in human terms that will ever be able to buy our souls. The problem is not with a financial price, it is with the currency that must be paid for our souls. Our problem is that the price tag is blood - blood of an holy sacrifice offered to God. The price is the blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He paid the final and ONLY acceptable price for our souls. When he gave up His Spirit on the cross His final cry was, "Tetelestai!" That is a financial term meaning, "Paid in full!"
The cost for our souls is perfect righteousness. We must be absolutely holy and pure to come into God's presence. Any sin would merit His full wrath being poured out upon us. Coming into His presence without this righteousness would be as foolish as Nadab and Abihu's approach to God in Exodus. Their entrance without righteousness resulted in them being consumed by the fire of God instantly. Considering the fact that God tells us in His Word that all our righteousness is like filthy rags - we quickly see that we are in need of a righteousness that will stand before God.
Praise the Lord, God provided that righteousness Himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He came and fulfilled the Law. He came and lived a perfect life absolutely keeping all God's commandments and precepts. Then He took our sin upon Himself and paid the horrific penalty of God's wrath. Through His death, burial, and resurrecton God now forgives our sin and gives us the glorious exchange - His righteousness for our sin. By the grace of God we have been justified by God. Justified means, "declared righteous." As a result of being justified/declared righteous we can now stand before God - not in our own righteousness, but clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is the "righteousness that delivers from death."
All the treasures of all the ages piled as high as the heavens amount to nothing before our holy God. Added together they still amount to a sum of the "treasures of wickedness." All the achievements of all the people who have worked to attain them mean nothing in light of our sin. None of these things profit us - or have profited any son of Adam. What we need is the "righteousness that delivers from death." That righteousness was provided by God Himself. It is only attained when we receive it as a gift by the grace of God. It comes only through Jesus Christ. In light of these undisputable Biblical facts there is then only one question to be answered. Are you trusting in the treasures of wickedness to deliver your soul from death - or - are you trusting in Jesus Christ. Only He has the righteousness that delivers from death.
The righteous is delivered from trouble, But the wicked takes his place. Proverbs 11:8
God's ability to deliver out of trouble is nothing short of amazing. If we only knew all the times that God has delivered us from situations and problems - we would fall and worship at His feet. As it is we will have to wait for that day when we see Him and know as fully as we are known. But thankfully the Lord has put some of His glorious history in the Bible from which we can glean the wonders of His power to arrange providence according to His will.
We read here that the righteous is delivered from trouble, but that the wicked takes his place. The first thing we need to state here is that God does not promise to deliver the righteous from ALL trouble. There are times when God's purpose is served by the death of His martyrs. But for every martyr it seems that there are also those times when God does glorious deliverances among His people. There are two that are amazing because they mirror exactly what is said here in this passage - that the wicked take the place of the one who was delivered.
We read of Mordecai who would not give worship to the wicked Haman. Haman decided to do more than just kill Mordecai. He got authorization from the king to kill the entire people of Mordecai - going after the entire Jewish nation. As the Jews prayed earnestly for deliverance, God was engineering a wonderful array of providence to provide deliverance for them. Esther was queen so she had access to the king - and was willing to go even though she was not requested - thus risking her own life. As Haman proceeded to build a gallows like none other upon which to hang Mordecai - God was having the king experience a sleepless night in which he had court records read to him. He learned of Mordecai speaking of a plot to kill him - and desired to honor him. That event led to a glorious change of circumstances - in which Mordecai was delivered from the gallows - yet Haman was hung on them instead. Instead of Mordecai's family being killed - the family of Haman was hung along with him upon the gallows he built for Mordecai. Ah, the glories of my God and King - Who can work miracles of providence to accomplish His own will in history.
The second piece of Bible history involves Daniel and a lion's den. A group of wicked advisors to the king were jealous of Daniel - and thus sought a reason to accuse him before the king. Darius the King was a vain man so he fell for the trap laid for Daniel. The advisors had him sign a law that no man could pray to anyone except him for a day - with the penalty being death by lion's den if they disobeyed. Once signed - these wicked advisors awaited Daniel's godly choice to pray to God three times a day. When he bowed to pray to Jehovah, they were ready to pounce. They dragged him before the king and had him pass sentence even though he was loathe to do so. Thus Daniel found himself being lowered into a den of ravenous lions - a trouble that seemed destined to have him consumed as soon as he reached the floor of the den in which the lions awaited his arrival with salivating mouths. But God shut those mouths and delivered Daniel until morning. As he was raised out of the den - the lions did not have to worry about going hungry. The king, furious with their deceitfulness, had the wicked advisors thrown into the pit with the lions who more than obliged his offer of a second meal - crushing them as soon as they hit the ground.
God is able to deliver to the uttermost. We need to know that and trust Him to deliver us when we face trouble because we confess His name. We also need to know that He is also able to bring the wicked to a most horrific end as well - even having them take our place as He delivers us. Trust Him at all times, dear saints of God. He is good and will do what is good in our lives. Whether He offers an earthly deliverance or not - remember this one thing. The most glorious deliverance that He offers is that which is bought and paid for with the blood of His own Son at Calvary's cross. There He delivered us from His own wrath and judgment - not at the cost of the wicked - but at the cost of His own beloved Son. May that ultimate deliverance from trouble drop us to our knees daily in worship, adoration, and praise!
By transgression an evil man is ensnared, But the righteous sings and rejoices. Proverbs 29:6
Snares are usually set by a hunter for an animal. They are set with great care and caouflaged so that the animal is unaware of their presence. The goal is for the animal to think everything is fine - and suddenly be caught in the snare and trapped. This normal situation with snares makes this proverb all the more interesting to us because God is warning us that certain behaviors and choices that we make actually set snares - not for another - but for ourselves.
The way that an evil man sets a snare for himself if by his sin. The word transgression here means rebellion. The word speaks of rebellion against God and His laws. So the snare that the evil man sets for himself to be caught in is his own choice to rebel against God and His laws and principles. This ensnares him - it sets a trap for him and is bait for him as well. The word "ensnare" here means more than just a trap. The word actually speaks more of the bait that is in the trap. The bait here is the whole idea of living life without any responsiblity to God and to His Word. It is a life free from restraints - and free from serious responsilibity to God. We don't have to worry about God and His authority. We don't have to worry about accountability for our moral choices. We're free to do what we want.
This is the most effective bait available to Satan. He catches thousands of people who don't want to be accountable to God - and who think that they truly can live however they want without consequences. The truth is that such living places us squarely in a trap. We cannot get past God's commandments. We will not sidestep them - we will trip over them and fall. Just like the proverb says, we will be ensnared when it is all over.
The righteous though sings and rejoices. This is interesting to consider because it runs so contrary to the opening statement. Why do the righteous sing and rejoice? Since most proverbs present two opposing sides we can look at how that would help us understand what is being said here. Transgression ensnares and is bait for the evil man - and yet is a motivation for the righteous to sing and rejoice. When we look at the idea of a man being righteous we know that biblically this only happens by faith. We are made righteous by a gift of God's grace, given because of what Jesus Christ did through His death, burial, and ressurection. So whereas sin ensnares the evil man - the righteous one sees it and has an opposite reaction.
The righteous man sees sin and does not see an opportunity to live how he wants. He does not desire a life free from the constraints of the Law of God. He sees a completely different picture. First he sees that God is not constraining him except from doing something that will hurt himself. Every prohibition of the Word of God is there because we need protection from the ravages of sin. He sees the love of God at work - whereas the evil man sees God trying to rob him of pleasure he should rightfully have. When the righteous see the love of God in His commands, he sings and rejoices! What a wonderful, loving God he has who has marked out all the things that bring pain and destruction!
There is something else that the righteous see in the Law of God. He sees himself. At first this will not be a reason to sing and rejoice because what he will see is rebellion. He has rebelled against God and done evil as he has disobeyed God's commandments. That is painful at first to realize - but in the end it is a reason for glorious rejoicing and singing. It is only when we see our sinful rebellion against God's Law that we come to grasp why we need Jesus Christ. As Galatians 3:24
tells us, ". . . the Law is given to us as a tutor, to lead us to Christ so that we might be justified by faith." In our sinfulness we no longer are deceived and think we can be right with God on the basis of our own works. We are led to Christ to be declared righteous by faith in what Jesus has accomplished on the cross. There, dear ones, is the reason to sing and rejoice!
The evil man sees sin as an opportunity to live out his demented ideas of freedom. He thinks he is free and that he will not have to be ultimately accountable for his actions. Too bad that he will find out in eternity that such thoughts were only the bait of Satan to damn his soul for eternity. The righteous sees sin as a reason to run to the cross of Christ for redemption and forgiveness. He sees his sin as proof that his works are worthless in making himself acceptable to God. This revelation from God is reason enough for him to turn to God in faith for the only righteousness that will stand in the judgment. Knowing this is absolutely fantastic! It is glorious and definitely turns our hearts to singing and rejoicing because of the manifold grace of God!