PROVERBS 11: 3-9
THE HOPE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
These verses contrast the long-term outcome of righteousness with that of wickedness. A righteous person will be secure in his or her walk (conduct) but a person whose paths are crooked, whose conduct is wicked, eventually will find him or her self in troubles of their own making. Righteousness has power to deliver but the wicked though are bound to failure (CIT).
This section begins by referring to the value of righteousness in guiding and protecting from hardships. Then it moves to what the end results of choosing the path of righteousness verses the path of the world will be. The righteous will be delivered but the wicked will be destroyed.
I. DELIVERED OR DESTROYED, 3-6.
II. DESTRUCTION OR SALVATION, 7-9.
Proverbs 11:3 refers to the value of righteousness in guiding & protecting from disaster. "The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous [perversions of the ungodly] will destroy them."
The upright stands in contrast to the ungodly or treacherous. Integrity refers to moral wholeness, being without moral blemish. Integrity or righteousness is a most valuable guide in all perplexities (Mt. 6:22). When integrity is a way of life, it guides and guards like a shepherd. Integrity says, "I come to You Lord today, not to get You to do what I say, but to hear and to do what You say."
Duplicity is the contrasting characteristic. [The noun selep is used only here and in 15:4; the related verb slap means "to pervert, subvert, or overturn." It is rendered "overthrows" in 13:6 and "frustrates" in 22:12.] [Walvoord, John; Zuck, Roy. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983, S. 928.] A person’s conduct who is crooked (lit. twisted) is devious. The perverseness that rebels against righteousness is the wicked’s own snare which will lead them to destruction.
Verse 4 reveals that riches are unable to help us in facing disaster. "Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death."
The day of wrath stands for serious troubles or reversals, especially death. Most prefer riches to righteousness and place their faith in them. Riches are destitute of value in the day of wrath. You can’t take your riches with you after you die or on your way to captivity so they will no longer be able to aid, protect, or comfort you.
In contrast the just person will be delivered from trouble. Wealth cannot buy long life; only righteousness can aid in that (10:2b). [In 10:27 fearing the Lord is said to contribute to longevity.]
Verse 5 again encourages the student to virtuous conduct. "The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way, But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness (NASB)
The image is that of going along a path without stumbling or falling. Righteous living or living to become righteous or sanctified results in a smooth or straight way (3:5-6), a life with fewer obstacles and troubles (11:8). Keeping your conscience and character pure enables you to pursue your aims without stumblings or hindrances that impede and misdirect. Wickedness though leads to a person’s downfall. The evil are ensnared by their own desires and greed which causes them to stumble and fall. A persons basic orientation will effect the way he or she turns out and how they end up.
In verse 6 we encounter another benefit of righteous living which is deliverance or escape from troubles. "The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the treacherous will be caught be their own greed."
God’s providence sees to it that there is a connection between deed and result. Evil deeds will cause a downfall. The evil desires of an unfaithful ("treacherous") person get him in trouble (v. 3). He is trapped (1:17-18; 6:2; 7:22-23; 12:13), for his desires are leading him into sin.
The straight forward straight through type of integrity delivers the godly from the stares and dangers which are laid out for them.
II. DESTRUCTION OR SALVATION, 7-9.
Verse 7 teaches that it is futile to forsake righteousness to gain power. "When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of strong men perishes."
To a godless man possessions, pleasures, and power are his motivation and hope [lit. "the hope of strength"]. There is a sudden end to the expectations of those who are full of strength and build their prospects for life on it. All that the wick put their hopes in, such as riches, will disappear. If not in life, most certainly in death. Death for the wicked puts an end to all he hoped to accomplish (10:28). Neither his wealth (v. 4) nor his power can divert death.
Death everywhere is a sad event. Even in a flower, a bird, or an animal it is a saddening sight. Death of a baby is tragic. Even the death of a righteous man is sad. But the death of the wicked is the saddest most tragic sight under the heavens. When the wicked man dies all hope of salvation and transformation of character dies also. When death strikes its appointed time (Heb. 9:27) the opportunity for change and salvation are over. All hope is gone.
What is dearer to the soul than hope? It is dearer than life itself, for life seems cursed without it. The soul lives in its hopes and by its hopes. The grim reaper kills the hope of liberty, improvement, honor, happiness. They are gone, gone for ever. Every "star of hope" quenched, and the sky over the soul is black as midnight. An unrepentant man dies and carries nothing away. There is no glory that will descend after him. He goes to the generations of his fathers, and will never see light and good again.
Death will overcome God’s enemies. Wicked men rebel against God, battling with inhuman strength, but death is stronger. Death comes and puts an end to all the wicked’s life & hope. Death’s cold touch freezes the heart, and stills and silences the pride of man for ever. [Thomas, David. The Book of Proverbs. Kregal. Grand Rapids. 1982. P.134.]
The strong hope of the righteous though is beyond the grave (1 Pet. 1:4). It is a living hope for it is founded in the Living God.
Verse 8 again teaches of the inevitability of retribution. "The righteous is delivered from trouble, but the wicked takes his place."
As stated in verses 3, 5 & 6, righteous living helps avert trouble (12:13). The contrast is between one who is delivered while the other falls before the same danger. The just will be delivered only to be replaced by the wicked or the one who deserves to be punished. The evil person will fall into the pit they dug, or has been dug, for the righteous (26:27; Ps. 7:16).
Though divine justice only manifests itself in this world as a prelude and not completely and finally, God still sees to it that the righteous escape but the deceiving wicked don’t. God makes a way for the righteous even where there is no way.
Now all men will have their troubles. "Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards" (Job 5:7). While the good and the bad have both trouble, our relationship with it is strikingly different, as indicated in this proverb.
The righteous are GOING OUT OF "TROUBLE." For, "The righteous is delivered out of trouble." The righteous have their troubles. Their troubles arising from physical sicknesses, mental difficulties, emotional anxieties, moral imperfections, social upheavals, slanders, and bereavements. But the glorious fact they are being "delivered out" of these troubles. They are emerging out of darkness into light, out of discord into harmony.
We are being delivered out of trouble now. There are many striking instances of deliverance on record. We see this happening when the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea. The Lord delivered them by parting the Red Sea—and then the Egyptians took their place in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:28, 29). We see this happening when wicked Haman built a gallows to hang Mordecai on—only to end up hanging himself (Esther 7:10). We see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego spared in the fiery furnace while those who cast them in were consumed by the heat (Daniel 3:22). [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Vol 2 : Psalms-Malachi. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006, S. 209]. Abraham, Noah, Moses, Mordecai, Daniel. Every righteous man can refer to troubles from which he has been delivered, enemies that he has overcome, difficulties that he has surmounted, storms that he has left behind.
We will be delivered out of all trouble at death. With the last breath all our sorrows depart as a dream in the night. All the heavy load is left on this side of the Jordan. John in his vision saw the righteous who had "come out of great tribulation," clothed in white robes, and exulting in glorious bliss.
Take heart, you righteous ones! Yet a little while, and all your storms will be hushed-all your clouds will melt into the widest blue yonder.
The wicked are GOING INTO TROUBLE. "but the wicked takes his place." They are in trouble now, but they are going deeper into it with every step they take. Their skies are growing darker, and the clouds heavier; they are forging thunder-bolts and nursing fierce storms. The trouble they are going into is unmitigated. They are not mixed with blessings, which lighten their load or relieves their gloom. The trouble they are going into is unending. Where, "The worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
Verse 9 contrasts two more instructional statements. "With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered."
A godless [np, "profane"] person can defame another merely by what he says (10:18-19a). Contrasted with a profane person, who is careless in what he says, is the righteous person who escapes through knowledge. The hostile purposes masked by the words of the mouth of the wicked are seen through by the righteous by virtue of the wisdom which God has taught them. This penetrating look is our means of deliverance.
Dear brother, mark the difference between the righteous and the wicked. See the righteous moving on, with his troubles receding like a cloud behind him, with sunshine breaking on his horizon. See the wicked advancing under a sky growing more and more dark and threatening. "Choose this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my house; we will serve the Lord."