Solomon shows how step by step both righteous and wicked will receive their reward. From thought to speech and finally destruction. Why? Because of wisdom.
While still following the groupings in my bible helps, I’m including the “why” along with the “what.” Why do the righteous stand while the wicked are no more? Because of what is in their hearts. And the content of their hearts is expressed in their thoughts, speech and actions.
Solomon first starts with the mind of the man. “The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsel of the wicked are deceitful” (verse 5). I realize that the “counsel” of the wicked does not end only in the mind but it certainly starts there. Devising evil schemes in the mind is the beginning of evil actions. It all starts with an idea. Both men dwell on their ideas before acting.
Some people use the excuse of “I wasn’t thinking” when they do things that feel automatic. Trouble with that is that they have created a pattern of thinking that then flows easily from their hands. A righteous man puts thought into doing righteous actions. This becomes his pattern in life. Suppose both men come across a man lying in the ditch. The righteous man would act without hesitation to assist this man to safety; the good Samaritan story in action. The evil man would come over to see if the man had anything of value on him that he could steal. He might hesitate a moment to see if anyone was around to witness his actions. Both acted out of the pattern of their usual thinking.
The next step in the process identified by Solomon is what comes from a man’s lips. “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers them” (verse 6). This brings to mind the Pharisees arguing with Jesus. Their words were crafted to trap Him into an offense that they could justify killing Him. His words ALWAYS delivered Him from their traps. The people may not have seen the Pharisees as evil but Jesus knew their hearts. Outwardly they claimed to be holy but inwardly they were plotting evil. And that evil was against the God whom they claimed to serve.
Jesus also said that “out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). This is exactly what Solomon is sharing by putting these two proverbs together. He will say it again later in a manner a lot like Jesus’ words. This is still true now as it ever was. Good words don’t come from a heart that is filled with evil. And evil words do not come from a heart that is filled with righteousness. Yes, we occasionally see both men speak out of character but it will not be their normal pattern.
The result of both men’s thoughts and speech is their final outcome. “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand” (verse 7). The wicked man will come to ruin. It may not always happen in this life but you can bank on it happening after death. God will judge his heart. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Eternal death. God heart of the righteous is also known by God and he too will receive a just reward for that heart. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).
Where is the ‘why’ one succeeds and the other is destined for ruin? It is in what they seek. One seeks good sense, wisdom, while the other doesn’t. The wicked man relies on his own devices and twisted mind to direct his actions. The righteous man uses wisdom to guide his actions. And he is commended for it. Those around the righteous man see his good conduct and praise it where the wicked man is despised because of his conduct.
In today’s world it seems like this is backwards some times. Men who devise ‘get rich schemes’ that take advantage of others are often praised and even joined in their endeavors. Others who stand up for their workers and give benefits not required of them are seen as weak and gullible. But in the end BOTH are seen rightly by the people. Ponzi schemes are uncovered and the people rail against them. Worker turnover disappears and loyalty soars, carrying the caring employer through all adversity.
God is NEVER fooled. ALL will receive their just rewards when they stand before Him. In the meantime, judge a man by his actions with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let Him lead you in forming associations. Don’t link your life to a wicked person least they corrupt even you. It’s not worth ANY gain this world has to offer. Seek wisdom and let it guide your life.
Father God, thank You for all the people around me who seek only good. Thank You for protecting me when I got (or get) mixed up with the wrong people. You know the hearts of all men. Help me know the ones that I deal with. Keep me ALWAYS searching for Your wisdom in my life. Not just in the big decisions but in the everyday activities I indulge in. Let my heart be so full of Your love that only good comes from my lips and hands.