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blog meditation Proverbs

Meditation Proverbs 21b

7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right. 8 The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright. 9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. 10 The wicked crave evil; their neighbours get no mercy from them. 11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge. 12 The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin. 13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. 14 A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath. 15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. 16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead. 17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich. 18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright. (Prov. 21:7-18 NIV)

7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away,

for they refuse to do what is right.

A similar idea to this proverb is seen in the words that Jesus spoke to Peter ‘those who live by the sword will die by the sword.’  The wicked live by violence, and such violence will be visited upon them and will drag them away.  We reap what we sow.  The second line shows why this will eventually happen.  The wicked person has found violence such a useful tool for getting what he wants that he refuses to change his ways and do what is right.  Violence gets him what he wants swiftly so he resorts less and less to the powers of persuasion.

8 The way of the guilty is devious,

but the conduct of the innocent is upright.

The wicked way in life is condemned by God, so the person is guilty and their way of behaviour is crooked or devious.  In contrast, the behaviour of the innocent person is upright.  Jesus said that by our works we will be known. 

9 Better to live on a corner of the roof

than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Wives are not more prone to being quarrelsome than husbands so this proverb can apply to both.  If there is a quarrelsome person in the house that becomes unbearable because no matter what you do they will find a reason to quarrel about.  Houses in OT times had flat roofs, so the Teacher is saying that it would be better to live in a corner of a roof rather than live in the house with a quarrelsome person.

10 The wicked crave evil;

their neighbours get no mercy from them.

A wicked person has a huge appetite for evil, they crave and thrive on doing harm to others.  The people who live nearby or work with them cannot expect any kind of mercy or favour.  To behave in an evil way is fun for the person.  They get enjoyment out of the harm that they do to other people. 

11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom;

by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge.

The scoffer rejects all authority and refuses to listen to a word of correction but when his behaviour leads to him being punished, the simple (not stupid, but uneducated in the ways of wisdom) learn the lesson that it is a bad thing to be a scoffer and that it has bad outcomes.  The simple, if they are teachable, are in a position to learn if they pay attention to what the wise teacher is saying, they too will gain knowledge.

12 The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked

and brings the wicked to ruin.

God is the Righteous One in this verse. (Though it is important to note that this is the translation that makes most sense.  The verse is difficult to translate so most versions involve some interpretation as well as translation.)  God takes note of the family of the wicked, and God will bring the wicked to ruin.  It is important for us to understand the wicked do not escape, God will surely bring them into judgement.

13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

We serve the Lord Jesus Christ when we serve the poor.  Christ acknowledges that even a glass of water given in His name will be rewarded.  But for those who shut their hearts and ears to the cry of the poor, in their time of need when they cry out to God, their voice will not be answered.  We see a similar idea in the NT.

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matt. 7:2 NIV)

14 A gift given in secret soothes anger,

and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.

The Teacher is not recommending that we give gifts in secret or that we conceal a bribe under our cloak.  He is just making a sad observation about how effective bribes appear to be.  This is not just behaviour.  A bribe is always intended to secure an unfair advantage or to escape justice.

15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous

but terror to evildoers.

This proverb states what was not explicitly said in the previous proverb.  The righteous love justice because justice is the way of the Lord.  Those who live in the fear of the Lord rejoice with joy when justice occurs.  When justice is established the work of evildoers is brought to light.  The wicked are punished for their behaviour.  This produces a state of terror because the wicked are held accountable for the evil they have done.

16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead.

The path of prudence and wisdom leads to life, but the path of foolishness leads to death.  The two ways to live is a major theme in all wisdom literature found in the Scriptures.  The fool strays from the wise way to live and finds himself in the company of the dead.

17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor;

whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.

The one who seeks pleasure rather than hard work spends whatever has been earned on trying to have those pleasures.  The love of and over indulgence in wine and choice foods means that necessary resources are used up leaving it impossible to acquire capital or have savings.

18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,

and the unfaithful for the upright.

This is a difficult verse and commentators have suggested several meanings.  The meaning which does make most sense is that because God is Sovereign, God can use the very acts of the wicked to bring about blessing for His people.  The example of Joseph illustrates this idea.  The brothers intended to harm Joseph, but God intended it for good. 

Prayer

Lord help us to be ready to help those who are in need.  Forgive us for the times we have turned away from needy people.  Help us to see that in serving the needy we are serving our Saviour.  Open our eyes and our ears that we can see and hear the need that is around us every day because we ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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