Slights and injustices are an ever-present reality in this fallen, sin-cursed world. We cannot escape the sorrows that attend injustices and the temptation to want revenge rises naturally within a wounded soul. Proverbs 20:22 does not condemn a passion for justice nor a longing for restitution; however, it does condemn a vengeful, audacious, threatening spirit.
Writing to Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote, “Recompense [repay] to no man evil for evil…avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:17, 19).
Peter exhorted persecuted Christians of the 1st century to respond to injustices by “Not rendering [returning] evil for evil [wicked, loathsome actions], or railing for railing [slander or speak evil]: but contrariwise [on the contrary] blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit [obtain] a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9).
How is a maltreated Christian to respond when life is not fair and enemies malign his character? Solomon’s counsel—“wait on the Lord, and He shall save thee” (20:22b). Wait on the Lord; trust Him knowing He is just, hears your prayer and will give His child victory! Wait on the Lord!
Proverbs 20:23 – “Divers weights [stone; i.e. measurements] are an abomination [abhorrent; morally disgusting; loathsome] unto the LORD; and a false [fraudulent; deceit; guile] balance [scale] is not good [pleasing; pleasant; best; right].”
This proverb draws upon an ancient method of using certified weights and a scale to determine the weight and value of precious metals. Certified electronic scales are today’s equivalent; however, the traditional mechanical scale has changed little since the time of Solomon. Commerce in gold and silver was dependent upon state or government certified weights.
Christians are to be people of integrity who deal honestly with others. It is an abomination for God’s people to be cheats, liars and deceivers. Solomon warns: God will avenge wrongs and injustices.
The Sovereignty, Providence and Omniscience of God are the subjects of Proverbs 20:24.
Proverbs 20:24 – “Man’s [lit. a mighty man; a warrior] goings [steps; path; direction; course of life] are of the LORD; how can a man then understand [ponder; look at; consider] his own way [journey; road; course of life]?”
Solomon counseled his son that God knows every man–He knows every part of your being. Before you were conceived in your mother’s womb, God knew you. There is not a detail of your being or life that has escaped His knowledge (Psalm 139:1-2, 13-16). He has numbered your days and knows your life’s journey, course and the end of your life.
Solomon taught his son that the mightiest of men are not independent of God. A man may plot the course of his life; however, a wise man acknowledges his days are numbered (Psalm 37:18) and his times are in God’s hand (Psalm 31:15). Every man is born a free will agent and bears the burden of his choices; however, “Man proposes, God disposes” (Thomas a’ Kempis). Only a fool takes for granted the sovereignty of God (Psalm 14:1; 53:1) and boasts he is independent of his Creator.
Proverbs 20:25 serves as a warning to men who treat lightly the vows God holds as sacred.
Proverbs 20:25 – “It is a snare [trap; hook; noose] to the man who devoureth [swallow; treat with rashness] that which is holy [sacred; pure and devoted], and after [afterwards] vows [makes an offering; pledge to God] to make enquiry [consider or search out the next day].”
Binding legal contracts, handshakes and promises have all fallen victim in a society described as a “dog eat dog world”. Lying, cheating and deceiving have become accepted practice while vows and commitments are inconsequential. Being a man of principle, one who is faithful and true to his word has become passé’.
Although broader in application than marriage, it is the sacred vows of matrimony that come to mind when I read verse 25. What a tragedy that Christians have followed the same course as society in treating lightly the sacred vows of marriage.
Consider Solomon’s counsel regarding vows in Ecclesiastes 5:4-5.
Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 – “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not [do not put off] to pay it; for He hath no pleasure [delight] in fools [stupid; silly]: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”
My friend, it is better to not make a vow than be rash and vow without considering the implications of your covenant before God.
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith