A spring or well holds such promise. When we come to one or hear of one there is the hope of clear fresh water. We can drink and be refreshed. Yet to come to one and find it trampled to where it is dirty and filled with mud and pollutants is such a disheartening thing. This is true in the realm of water - but how much more so when applied to the lives of godly men.
This trampled spring or polluted well is actually a godly, righteous man who surrenders and gives way before the wicked. Giving way has the idea of wavering, wobbling and shaking before one falls. The fall is imminent and that is what all the movement indicates is coming. The Hebrew also indicates it can be a foot slipping or a fire flaming out.
This picture in the Hebrew is applied to a righteous man who faces the true test of his righteousness. THE test is when he stands before the wicked. He chooses to face such a test by walking in righteousness, and that might cost him dearly. The test may be as little as the disagreement of others - and it may be as large as facing martyrdom for his stand. Regardless the situation, this righteous man chooses instead to give way - to wobble and totter in his views. He changes his mind - or acts contrary to it. His pollution and trampling come as a result of not standing firm in his convictions. He does not hold to the Word in such situations - but gives way before the world instead.
There are so many men and women in history who have given way before the wicked. They have chosen the way of peace - at least peace on this earth. There will be no peace for them in the end when they stand before God. But they do not want to rock the boat. The conclusion of such matters is that a life that could have been so refreshing to others is trampled and polluted. Now all it does it disappoint those who needed a refreshing drink. What they could have offered is ruined - because they chose to waver in their faith before the wicked.
There is another way that we give way before the wicked. It is not as public as the outright denial of Christ contained in a renunciation. Yet this kind of "giving way" happens in a secret tribunal - the one that comes up in our hearts when wickedness comes and asks for our obedience. There are secret forays into sin - and secret moments when we give way before the wicked. Such things are not public displays - but they nevertheless muddy he waters of our heart. It might be a little while lie we chose to indulge in - or a look that begins innocently, but ends in an adulterous heart. It might be a way we've cheated or cut corners at work to not give our best for God's glory and the testimony of His name. Whatever it is, it tramples our well - and muddies the waters of our heart so that we cannot give as clear a drink of clean, life-giving water to others from the well of our hearts - that should be flowing outward with the rivers of living water of the Holy Spirit.
There is hope for those who have thus fallen in the New Testament. Peter gave way before the wicked - and that could have been the final message of his life. Fortunately for him Christ came and offered grace and forgiveness. He called Peter to repentance - and then back to usefulness. In no way do I want to lessen the truth of this passage - that righteous men need to stand in righteous views when the wicked come wanting them to compromise. Godly men need to remain godly when the ungodly want them to "tone it down" and lower their standards (which most often means to lower the standards of Scripture). We do need to stand firm and hold to the Word rather than the world. But, when we do fall, it is good to know that when we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive them. Nevertheless, we need to be wise and stand firm when confronted by the wicked. To do otherwise may mean allowing a well or spring that could offer many a fresh drink of the water of the Word, nothing more than the muddy, polluted waters of sinful compromise with the world. There are plenty of places where you can be served a drink of that kind of swill. May God help us to be men and women who stand firm on the gospel - which grants us power to stand - and also gives us grace to get up even if we've made the mistake of giving way before sin in our lives. May we be wise and choose righteousness and holiness so that the waters of our heart not be muddied with the pollution of sin and compromise.