6. Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. 7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot. (Prov. 10:6-7 NIV)
6. Blessings crown the head of the righteous,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
The image behind the first line of the proverb is that of one’s peers laying hands on the person, to bless them. It might also mean inauguration into some office or being set aside for a special task. The act of laying on of hands is a public act and it would be evident to all that a blessing had been conferred on the person. Of course, the blessing of God also falls upon the righteous. The righteous have been blessed and they have blessings to share.
The wicked speaks violence and eventually that violence will turn back on the wicked and overwhelm him, and the violence he threatened and meted out on others will rebound on himself.
The way of the righteous is contrasted with the way of the wicked. The stark contrast is to encourage us to love righteousness and eschew wickedness.
7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings,
but the name of the wicked will rot.
The righteous will leave a lasting legacy and their name and memory will be used in a way to encourage and bless others. This is challenging as we think of the legacy that we might be leaving. We serve the Lord because it is the right thing to do, not because of any legacy that we might want to leave. Only after some people have died does the truth come out about the life that they have lived. As the truth comes out then we can understand what it means to say that the name of the wicked will rot.
We could look at this proverb as describing the genealogy that we find in Genesis 4 and 5. In Gen 4 the line of Cain appeared outwardly to have legacy. We have to compare the line of Cain with the line of Seth to get the point that Moses is making.
There is an Enoch in each list, there is a Lamech in each list, and there is a group of three brothers in each list.
The Enoch from the Cain list – his father was a city builder and he named the city after his Son Enoch. How would this information resonate with the Children of Israel in Egypt? The Egyptians were city builders, and they sought to immortalise themselves by naming cities after themselves. They used the Israelites as slaves in their building projects. You can imagine the people of God asking the question, how come God allows us to be treated like this, how come the ones who are succeeding and achieving fame and glory are the Egyptians? But we need to take a look from another perspective. Back to the other Enoch from the line of Seth. This poor old Enoch did not have a city named after him, but look at heaven’s reckoning:
NIV Genesis 5:24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
In the final analysis who received the glory and immortality? It was the Enoch of the line of Seth. In their lifetime it seemed as if the Enoch of the line of Cain was the prosperous one, but it is short termism to reach such a conclusion, because God has always had his hand upon his church. It is best to walk with God and not become distracted by the apparent progress that the wicked are making.
When we turn our attention to Lamech of the family of Cain, we find a man who out-performed Cain in the number of men that he murdered. Not only did he murder, but he celebrated his crime and sin by writing songs about his conquest and victory. That is what was happening in Egypt, as the Egyptians celebrated their exploitation of the people of God. We see this happening in our society today. Sin and immorality are not only practised, they are celebrated and encouraged in the songs of our culture. Sins that fifty years ago would not have been openly contemplated are promoted in our soap operas as part of normal life. Has God lost control, has God left the Church to flounder? We turn back to the Lamech of our second list, from the City of God. This Lamech had a child named Noah
NIV Genesis 5:29 He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labour and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed.”
We know the Noah story, how through Noah God brought deliverance to the people of God. So, in the longer term you see that it is better to be with the City of God.
The group of three in the list of Cain represented considerable advances in technology, music and the arts. We ought not to despise technology, music or the arts, and that is not the point. Evangelicals tend to fail to appreciate the importance of these gifts of common grace that are given by God to the whole of humankind. But the problem is that in the world these gifts are taken without an expression of gratitude. They claim the glory and rest and reside in their own abilities. The Egyptians were probably the most advanced civilisation of their time. They were renowned for their schools of wise men, for building and agriculture. It is not surprising that the child of God in Egypt could be left wondering how God permitted the cruel Egyptians to prosper. The list of three brothers from the Seth list, were the three brothers who were saved through the flood.
The contrast here is between the righteous and the wicked. It may appear that the wicked have the better success, but in the end their name will rot.
Lord as we look around and see mockers, lawbreakers, and people espousing all kinds of evil apparently succeeding, help us to have hope in Your righteousness and in Your promises that all will one day give an account. Help us to not give up hope but to trust in You because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.