7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing. 8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead. 9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbours, but through knowledge the righteous escape. 10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. 11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. 12 Whoever derides their neighbour has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. (Prov. 11:7-12 NIV)
7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
all the promise of their power comes to nothing.
If we place our hope in political leaders, in charismatic figures or great leaders, that hope will die with their death. Even for those who place their hope in their own leadership, dictatorship or benevolent rule will their hope come to an end in death. Hope can only be secure when it is placed in God. God is eternal and hope placed in God can be an eternal hope. The person who does not honour God eventually sees all his hopes and dreams die. Death is the great leveller. All the threat and power of rulers, of gangsters and political leaders come to nothing at death.
8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.
In the UK the Christian faces a tidal wave of political representatives promoting every immoral action that they can dream up. It is troubling to see the spiritual capital of the nation wasted and people sleep walking into behaviour that is not good for society. Our trouble is that the voice of the church has been silenced. The wisdom revealed in God’s word is spurned and ridiculed. This is only for a little while. God will deliver His people from trouble. The upper hand of the ungodly is only for a moment. The trouble that the wicked had plotted for the righteous will fall upon the wicked themselves.
9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbours,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
The mouths of the godless promote ungodly behaviour. It is foolish for society to pursue a lifestyle that deviates from God’s plan. Political speeches angrily promote liberties that are not liberties, but rather an enslavement to sin and immorality. The godless do themselves no favours but rather advocate destruction for the people of this nation.
It is easy to embrace the so-called liberties that the media broadcast. When an argument is heard often enough, we can begin to doubt whether it is false as we once thought but, if we are guided by the wisdom and knowledge that comes from God’s word, then the righteous will escape the bogus arguments of those who reject God’s word.
10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
When the way of the righteous succeeds then the city can truly rejoice. This is not triumphalism; God’s way is wise and brings joy. God’s way is the way of liberty. Life is better for people when they follow the wisdom revealed in God’s word. The kind of tolerant eutopia spoken of by the chattering classes is grossly intolerant of Christian teaching. Political leaders are going to restrain what Christians can pray about. When the ways of the wicked perish there is reason for the people to shout for joy. This is a way that produces misery and confusion,
11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
When what is right is valued, there is blessing and the city is exalted. God’s way brings many blessings and benefits to people. The wicked by their teachings and promotion of unbiblical ideas destroy the benefits and blessings that righteousness brings. If we want a clear insight into what is happening in our world today, we can do no better than look at what the Teacher says in the book of Proverbs.
12 Whoever derides their neighbour has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
The Teacher refers to the kind of speech that openly despises the neighbour. This can be lies, rumours, half truths or any form of speech that does harm to our neighbour. Over the past few years, especially in the debate about Brexit, we have witnessed a new level of rudeness and spite in public discourse. People are no longer happy to challenge ideas, rather they stoop to personal attacks on the person they are opposed to. The silence of a person of understanding stands in contrast to the rash words of the fool. Discernment teaches us to at times be silent. The Teacher has a great deal to say about the wise and foolish use of words. We should recall how we were encouraged to lay hold of wisdom. We should listen to the wisdom about our use of words.
Lord God help us to know how to react and deal with ungodly propaganda that promotes unbiblical behaviour. Those who promote foolish ways are so blind that they cannot see the harm they are doing to people. Lord, raise up Christian leaders in this country who will revoke the harmful laws. Preserve our liberties so that we will be able to continue to teach the whole of Your word because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.