The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.
The wicked are punished in place of the godly, and traitors in place of the honest. (NLT)
The fact that wickedness exists in the world can be traced back to Adam and Eve and their family. The fall, when Adam and Eve disobeyed the one rule God gave them, ultimately led to the first murder when Cain killed his brother Abel. It seems incredible that one apparently small event in The Garden of Eden could give evil such a foothold in the world. It is not necessary to look back in history to see the consequences. We only have to view the TV news or read a newspaper. God’s world seems to be overrun by evil; but worse than that – it seems that those who are wicked prosper (see Psalm 73). Perhaps they do, but this proverb, and other Scriptures confirm that the time will come when the wicked will be judged and pay the penalty for the way that they have lived.
We have to remember that God is watching us, and watching over us. He sees everything, and He hears everything. This proverb confirms that God has a concern for the godly, the righteous and the honest. However hard we struggle with thoughts about the inequalities in our world, or with the harsh realities of human behavior, we know that God is just, and we know that He keeps His promises. That is what this verse shouts at me.
In Psalm 73 it is only when Asaph enters God’s sanctuary that he begins to understand. This leads Asaph into an attitude of worship and the wonderful words, “Whom have I in heaven but You?” When we come into God’s sanctuary and open our ears then we allow Him to speak into our situation, to answer some of our questions, and to remind us that it is good to be near to Him. In a world we struggle to understand, God is our panic room.Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm 73: 23-28 NIV)