The other day something truly amazing happened. I had planted a batch of tomato seeds, and after a couple of months I went out and harvested a whole bucket full of orages from the vines that grew there. Now if you are someone who is even the least bit familiar with agriculture, you know that this last statement was false. If I planted tomato seeds into the ground - the only thing I will harvest from them is tomatos. There is an unbending principle at work here - whatever you sow is what you will reap. That principle is what is at the core of what is taught in today's proverb.
Here we have a man who is sowing iniquity. The word used here is a pretty tough word. It means unrighteousness, injustice, or wrong. This doesn't sound too bad until you begin to look a little deeper into the word and its usage. It is used to describe violent injustice and outright wickedness. Keil and Delitasch state that this word means, "unsympthizing tyranny, cruel misconduct toward a neighbor." It describes the actions of one who wants the person who feels his wrong to feel the fury of his anger. The second half of this proverb makes that clear. The iniquity that he is sowing is manifest in the "rod of his fury," which is felt by those unfortunate enough to be his victims. These kind of actions are usually those of a despotic king - or a person who is misusing their authority.
When one sows like this - they are going to reap vanity. The word for vanity here is the Hebrew word "aven" which means emptiness or nothingness. It can also mean sorrow, trouble, evil, or mischief. The idea here is that this despotic individual thinks he is going to reap the power of his authority - when in reality he is going to reap nothingness. The thought behind this nothingness is that of utter destruction. We've watched as this has happened right before our eyes. Saddam Hussein thought he was building an empire - but what he received in the end was a rude awaking in a hole - and the end of a hangman's noose. The Word of God warns in Galatians 6:7 that God will not be mocked - whatever a man sows he shall also reap. If he sows to the flesh, as he is here, he will from the flesh reap corruption. No one can outrun the hand of God and the principles upon which the Lord has founded this world.
The wicked man thinks that the rod of his fury will make others bow down and obey him. He rules only with fear - and trusts that fear alone will bring him the results that he desires. But the proverb tells us that this man - after all his furious tiraids - will perish. All his fury will do for him is ensure that his place in history is set as a terrible ruler or leader. His memory will not be blessed - men will curse it and use it as a byword. They will remember him not as a wise man - but as a fool. There lies the man who thought he could rule the world through wickedness and through fear. No one fears him now - and what awaits him is the utter vanity for which he worked. Having spent his life living for himself and for his own arrogant pursuits - he will die facing the fury of the One before Whom he will stand and give an account for his actions. Having rejected His love and His offer of mercy and grace through Jesus Christ, unfortunately for him, the fury of God will never cease.