Category Archives: Reward

Planning Evil and Digging Holes

Proverbs 28:10

“Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.”

Don’t Be Naive

The first thing we should understand from this proverb is that there are most assuredly those who want to lead “the righteous” astray. Not only do they want to cause them to sin, but they want them to fall into an inescapable pit. There are certainly evil people out there who want to see good people fall.

Those who don’t fall prey to the traps set by the wicked are the ones who are alert and on guard. They are not naive, but “sober…vigilant; because [our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Don’t Be Too Confident

The second thing we should note is the result of leading the righteous astray. Solomon warns that he who does such a thing is guaranteed to fall into his own pit, just as he did in Proverbs 26:27, “Who diggeth a pit shall fall therein…”

Actually, Solomon’s words sound much like his father’s. Writing about evil men who think God will never judge them, he said…

“Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous– you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! … If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made.” – Psalms 7:9, 12-15 ESV

If I were an evil man planning to lead the righteous astray, I would be a little nervous. Wouldn’t you?

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From Riches to Rags

Proverbs 28:6 

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich. (NLT)

There was once a vertically challenged tax collector who climbed into a tree to see over the heads of the crowd when a famous itinerant Teacher came to town. The gentleman in question was reasonably wealthy, but should not have been. Why not? Because he was a civil servant. He gained his wealth not through fair wages but by cheating the taxpayers of the town. Did he feel any discomfort or remorse about the way in which he accumulated his riches? Possibly not, but something drew him to a Teacher with no visible wealth, just a wealth of wisdom in His words.

The tax collector was called Zacchaeus. When the Teacher came to the tree he looked up and told Zacchaeus to come down out of the tree, and immediately invited Himself to dinner. The dinner party that followed was a life-changing event for Zacchaeus and resulted in him donating half of his wealth to the poor. The reminder probably went in the compensation he promised to anyone he had ever cheated. Scripture does not say that Zacchaeus was reduced to a life of poverty because of his encounter with the Teacher, but it seems likely. Not everyone who met Jesus was changed in this way, but everyone has a choice. Listen to the words of eternal life, or walk away (as one rich young man did).

This proverb is very similar to Proverbs 19:1, which also teaches that it is better to be poor and honest, than dishonest and a fool. The fact of the matter is that God does not measure wealth in worldly terms, but examines each human heart to discern whether wisdom is present and in what quantity. Zacchaeus appears to have been blinded by the shiny things of the world, but had sufficient wisdom to recognize the need for change in his life. His encounter with Jesus didn’t just change his life, but totally transformed it. I can’t imagine that anyone in the crowd saw that one coming.

Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good! (Psalm 53:1 NLT)

Justice Understood

Proverbs 28:5

“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.”
“Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the LORD understand completely.” – NLT
Media Courtrooms

One of the greatest hindrances to the legal system is the media. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that the public can find out what goes on our courtrooms. However, when the public relies solely on the media (especially social media) to keep them abreast of all the details of a trial, nothing but confusion, misinformation, and bad judgment can come from it.Conscience and law

Depending on who is reporting the news, one arrested for a crime might either be portrayed as a monster, or the second coming of Ghandi. Then, when one adds the prejudices of certain segments of society, it wouldn’t matter who did what, just as long as justice is seen to favor the group prejudiced against. In the meantime, as Rome burns, the media fuels the fire for the sake of ratings.

Perspectives

No matter the case, this proverb tells us that from an evil person’s perspective, compared to one who “follows the Lord,” he cannot, under any circumstance, be made to understand justice. No matter the reason for the verdict, if one is convicted for a crime, the evil will always cry, “Foul!

On the other hand, even good people can unwittingly align themselves with evil men. Without knowing all the details, only being fed what the media wants to dish out, they can resort to aberrant behavior. I have seen this happen many times, and have even been on the receiving end of unwarranted righteous indignation. Whatever happened to hearing both sides? Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” Whatever happened to mercy?

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – Micah 6:8 KJV

Whom Do We Seek?

When we seek our own, selfish desires – the ones that cause us to have the verdicts turn our way – our understanding can be darkened. It is only when we seek the Lord and let Him handle the situation that our eyes and hearts are open to better recognize true justice.

However, crazy as it may sound, for the believer and follower of God, the most outrageous verdicts handed down by the most insane judges are only lower court rulings yet to be tried by the Judge of the Ages. His judgment will be true, righteous, and clear enough for the vilest to understand.

In the meantime, the wise man will never forget these words: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).


A Difficult Thought

Proverbs 26:10

“The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.”
“Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” – ESV

This proverb is a challenging one because of how many different ways it could be translated. As a matter of fact, practically every scholarly commentary admits the Hebrew in this proverb is difficult to interpret. That is why I am going to quote several of them before I leave my final thought for you.

Spence-Jones (The Pulpit Commentary)

Few passages have given greater difficulty than this verse; almost every word has been differently explained. The Authorized Version is, The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors; Revised Version, As an archer (Job 16:13) that woundeth all, so is he that hireth the fool and he that hireth them that pass by. At first sight one would hardly suppose that these could be versions of the same passage. [1]

Garrett (The New American Commentary)

The Hebrew of v. 10 is almost unintelligible and thus subject to numerous interpretations, all of which are hypothetical. As the NIV has it, the verse reaffirms that one should not commit important tasks to fools (as in v. 6). Notwithstanding all the difficulties of the text, that does seem to be the main point.[2]

Friedrich and Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament)

All that we have hitherto read is surpassed in obscurity by this proverb, which is here connected because of the resemblance of ושכר to שכור. We translate it thus, vocalizing differently only one word:

            Much bringeth forth from itself all; But the reward and the hirer of the fool pass away.[3]

Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry

Our translation [KJV] gives this verse a different reading in the text and in the margin; and accordingly it expresses either, 1. The equity of a good God. The Master, or Lord (so Rab signifies), or, as we read it, The great God that formed all things at first, and still governs them in infinite wisdom, renders to every man according to his work. … Or, 2. The iniquity of a bad prince (so the margin reads it): A great man grieves all, and he hires the fool; he hires also the transgressors. When a wicked man gets power in his hand, by himself, and by the fools and knaves whom he employs under him, whom he hires and chooses to make use of, he grieves all who are under him and is vexatious to them. We should therefore pray for kings and all in authority, that, under them, our lives may be quiet and peaceable.[4]

Anthony Baker (Proverbial Thought)

So, here is what I think. Feel free to quote me 200 years from now.

A man is a fool when he employs a fool to complete a task. However, the biggest fool is one who thinks God, the Almighty Archer, will miss the target when He holds the wicked accountable.

We are always under His watchful eye, but the fool is never out of His “sights.”


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Proverbs, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 500.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 213.

[3] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 6 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 387.

[4] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994).


Just Wait Till You Get Home

Pro 24:19-20

“Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; for there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.”

Don’t Worry

“Fret” is not a word we use too often, but it simply means to worry oneself. Usually a person who frets is an unhappy person, an ill person, and one that gets on everyone else’s nerves.

Why worry about things we cannot change? Sure, we should be concerned about world events and the ones in charge, but what more can we do than all we can do? Should we sit around and worry ourselves sick? NO! Solomon advises us to chill, think about something else, and quit obsessing over evil men.

Don’t “fret,” be happy!

Don’t Envy

Why do we tend to envy the wicked? Don’t tell me you don’t, especially on the days you struggle to pay your bills. There are some wicked people out there who are driving cars that don’t leak oil, living in houses that have maids, and going on vacations – you know, those things few of us get to enjoy because we “fret” over the expense. If you are like me, then there are days you envy. Don’t lie.

Just the other day I went to the local Jaguar dealership where I was able to touch vehicles I can’t afford. Ordinarily, I cannot get close enough to a $150, 000 automobile without an alarm sounding. But that day I was allowed to touch, smell, and actually sit in the stuff envy is made of. What made it worse was when I was told there are preachers – PREACHERS! – that drive in from Atlanta to buy their Jaguars…and they pay CASH!

Am I preaching the right gospel? Yes…no more joking about that.

Not Home, Yet

I remember the story of a preacher that came home from an evangelistic campaign. He was gone a long time and was longing for home when he saw out the window of the train a group of people waiting at the station.

When the preacher reached the train station a band started playing and people started cheering, but as he stepped out of the car he noticed the celebration wasn’t intended for him; it was for some celebrity.

No one had showed up to greet the preacher. There were no banners, crowds, or cheers. Then, totally defeated, the poor, broken-down preacher prayed: “I have served you for years, Lord…I’ve been faithful and sacrificed everything for You…why didn’t one person greet me?…Why no parade?…Why no cheers?”

Then a still, small Voice said, “You’re not home…yet.”

Reward vs. Reward

Don’t worry yourself. Don’t be envious. The things of this earth will pass away one day, along with all the wicked have accumulated.

Nothing down here can compare to what our Father has in store for us when we get home.


Don’t Pretend You Don’t Know

Proverbs 24:11-12

If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done? – NIV

Feelings

I had to read these verses a few times before the meaning really sank in. And when it did, well…let’s just say I didn’t feel “blessed” by God’s Word. The best word to describe how I felt was “convicted.”

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Sometimes we read the Bible and find ourselves encouraged after being down and depressed. Other times we go to Scripture to find peace in the middle of a storm. This time, however, was one of those times when the truth was painful to accept. This time I felt worse after I read the Bible than before!

Either/Or

The KJV renders this proverb in the form of a hypothetical “if,” while the NIV renders this proverb as a command. One version says, “Do this”; the other says, “If, then…” It really doesn’t matter too much, however; the idea is still the same: God knows what we know, even when we deny it.

The KJV says: “If you don’t help, then say, ‘I didn’t know,’ you will have a hard time explaining your lack of action to the One who knows and keeps your soul.” The NIV says, “Rescue the innocent, because you know as well as God does you’re aware of the need.”

The Victims

I can’t help but think of the German citizens of WWII who told the Allies they never knew Jews were being led to the slaughter. They benefited from how the Jews were being treated, went along with everything, then feigned ignorance as human ash from the ovens floated down from the sky.

Genocide is taking place in Nigeria; Christians are being killed in Egypt; innocents are being beheaded as they walk down the streets of England; yet, those who could do something say, “I don’t know why this is happening.”

Thousands of innocents are butchered every day for a fee, yet the average Christian does little.

Millions of youth are staggering toward a spiritual slaughter, while parents convince themselves it’s natural and healthy.

Families are falling apart, marriages are failing, while we look in another direction. All the while thugs roam the streets killing old veterans and joggers for fun. Why?

Rescue Them!

We must ask ourselves this question: “What does God know about my heart that I am not willing to admit?”

You see, we know why many of the evils in our world are taking place. We observe the paths many are taking, yet say nothing. We watch, seemingly helpless, as the slaughter takes place. Deep inside we know what we could do, but the doing is hard; denying is easy.

Just remember, God knows our hearts. “Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”


Generous Eyes

Proverbs 22:9

“He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.”
“He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.” – NKJV

Always

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Never say never?” I heard it a lot in the days before the birth of my first child. I would say things like, “I will NEVER let my child…” That’s when people who knew better would offer insight based on their own experiences.

There are some decisions that should be made in advance, however; decisions preceded by a firm absolute. For example, I have said many times that I will never let my daughters leave the house looking like a “prostitot,” and I mean it.

But what about the word always? Isn’t that an absolute statement we should avoid? Should we always be giving? Should we always be generous?

Give

My father, a generous man, told me, “Son, if a bum on the street walks up to you and asks for a dollar, always give what you can…you never know who it might be.” He would never “withhold” when he had the power to give something (Prov. 3:27), and he was a firm believer in the possibility that every beggar could be a heavenly messenger:  “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2).

But more importantly, my father was wise enough to understand that it’s not really about what we give and to whom, although that is important; it’s about the heart. A person with a “bountiful eye” loves to give, especially to those who are less fortunate. Like the Good Samaritan, we are not told to question why our neighbor is lying in the ditch, or how he came to be in that situation, but to offer kindness and generosity. Even when it is impossible to give money, a sacrifice of kindness is always appropriate.

Blessings

When we give blessings we get blessings in return. It may not be in this life, but the promises of God are true: he who has a generous eye WILL be blessed.

Doesn’t it make you feel good to give? Wouldn’t you like to come into a bunch of money and then use it to fund an orphanage, provide for struggling families, or give to missions? Well, it doesn’t take a few people giving a lot, just a lot of people with a heart for giving.

Remember, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given” (Prov. 19:17 NKJV). God is no man’s debtor.