Today’s devotional study in Proverbs 11 is taken from a series of proverbial truths that contrast the way and reward of the righteous [those who love God and keep His Law] with the way and reward of the wicked (Proverbs 11:17-21, 23). These truths are illustrative of the principle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia:
Galatians 6:7-8 – “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
I will address each of the proverbs individually with a brief amplification and a personal application.
Proverbs 11:17 – “The merciful [kindhearted, righteous; faithful] man doeth good [benefits; rewards; reaps blessings] to his own soul [life; person; heart]: but he that is cruel troubleth [disturbs; stirs up trouble; afflicts] his own flesh [kin; body].”
The “merciful man” is kind, self-sacrificing; his joy it is to serve his family, friends and peers. His reward is the satisfaction of being a blessing. By contrast, a mean-spirited man takes satisfaction in stirring up trouble and is a curse to himself and his family.
Proverbs 11:18 – “The wicked [immoral; ungodly] worketh [make; executes; performs] a deceitful [lie; falsehood; fraud] work [i.e. earns the wages of his ways]: but to him that soweth [scatter seed] righteousness [moral virtue; justice] shall be a sure [certain; faithful; right] reward.”
The wicked commit all manner of evil in pursuit of gain. They are liars and deceivers who defraud the innocent and naïve, but are often themselves victims of their own sinful ways [as many have observed, “There is no honor among thieves”]. The righteous man sows seeds that reflect his character. He is a man of virtue; a good man whose life will be rewarded with the fruit of his labor.
Proverbs 11:19 – “As righteousness [moral virtue; justice] tendeth to life [rewarding life]: so he that pursueth [chase; follow after; persecute] evil [sin; wickedness] pursueth it to his own death [ruin].”
The path and journey of the righteous tends to prosper; however, the wicked follow a path of ungodliness and the end of their journey is death. The journey’s end for those who find their righteousness in Christ is eternal life, while the destiny of the wicked is eternal hell [Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”].
Proverbs 11:20 – “They that are of a forward [crooked; deceitful] heart [mind; understanding] are abomination [disgusting; an abhorrence; detestable] to the LORD: but such as are upright [without blemish; complete; truth] in their way [journey; path; road] are his [the Lord’s] delight [acceptable; pleasure; favor].”
God abhors a forward heart—a heart given to lies, deceit and dishonesty. While the wicked plot and plan their sin, the righteous follow the way of Truth and are a delight to the Lord.
Proverbs 11:21 – “Though hand [open hand indicating power or means] join in hand [i.e. shaking hands in agreement], the wicked [sin; bad] shall not be unpunished [guiltless; innocent; clear]: but the seed [child; posterity; descendants] of the righteous [just; lawful] shall be delivered [saved; preserved].”
The wicked plot together against the righteous. They shake hands in confederation to oppose God and His people. However, God is all-knowing and He will not forsake His people. He will deliver His children out of trouble and punish the wicked who plot against them.
Proverbs 11:23 – “The desire [delight; longing] of the righteous [just; lawful] is only good [bears good fruit]: but the expectation [hope; longing] of the wicked [sin; bad] is wrath [anger; rage; i.e. the wicked vent their anger].”
To know the character and heart of a man you need only discern his aspirations and goals. The longing and desire of a righteous man is to keep God’s Law and enjoy His blessings. The wicked, however, follow the way of sin, driven by anger and rebellion, they seek vengeance against all who oppose them.
My friend, what manner of man or woman are you?
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith