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!