“The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.”
As I did with the last verse, let’s look again at a couple of other versions of Proverbs 11:6. Let’s look at the New King James (NKJV)and the New International Version (NIV).
“The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.” – NKJV
“The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” – NIV
It would seem that the part that is causing any confusion or needs any clarification is the word “naughtiness.” I wonder if that has anything to do with the phrase we hear around Christmas, “naughty or nice?”
Whenever I hear this word it makes me think of strict elementary school teachers, paddles, grandmothers, and disobedient, candy-stealing, bratty children. Snotty-nosed little kids are “naughty.” So why was this word chosen in the translation of the Hebrew word havah?
Havah can be translated as words such as “desire,” “mischievous,” or “perverse.” As a matter of fact, both the NKJV and the NIV do a good job and conveying the appropriate message. Yet, when you dig into the word “naughty” there is something worth noting.
According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the word “naughty” can be found in the word “naught,” which is an old, Middle English word for “nothing.”
Taking that into account, what is “naughtiness” but the perverse and lustful pursuit of what amounts to essentially nothing? The transgressor, the “unfaithful,” shall be caught and destroyed by what seems to him as “real” and “natural.” While he scoffs at faith and pursues wickedness, he is doing nothing more than chasing an illusion. What a fool.
The “righteousness” of the believer is nothing more than faith, for without faith (in His Word; in His Son) it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). One cannot be righteous without it.
One cannot be “upright” without a foundation on which to stand, but get this! “Faith is the substance,” the foundation on which the righteous stand upright. Faith is what delivers!
The wicked says, “I don’t believe in God, only the things I can see and feel.” Then he pursues a “nothingness” that leads to destruction.
The righteous puts his faith in the unseen Hand of God, and is delivered from destruction.
Scripture is full of irony, isn’t it?