June 10th 2018 – Proverbs 11:29-31

Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind,
    and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
    and whoever captures souls is wise.
If the righteous is repaid on earth,
    how much more the wicked and the sinner!

Proverbs 11:29-31

The thought in 29 is akin to that in Hosea 8:7, 'They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind'. Once again, the idea of the inevitability of retribution is indicated. A man who brings sorrow into his home and family by the way he lives will surely pay for it, because the universe is built on moral lines. God will see to it that he does not do so with impunity. The RSV rendering of 30b reads completely differently from the AV - 'lawlessness takes away lives', and this makes the contrast with the first part of the verse, which emphasises that a righteous man has a life-giving influence. Such a contrast is in line with the other verses in the passage. All the same, however, the AV version is a legitimate translation, and bears an important truth. The wise can win others to wisdom because there is a life-giving influence at work. Spurgeon once preached a famous sermon on this text emphasising the different ways in which the word 'winneth' is used in everyday life. We speak of a man ‘winning a fortune' in the business world, and think of all the dedication and self-discipline involved in so doing; we speak of 'winning a battle', and think of the hard training and discipline needed to make an army competent on the battlefield. We speak of 'winning a bride', and think of the single-mindedness of the lover as he dreams of his beloved. All this requires to be read into the winning of souls - and not without the same rigorous self-discipline, the same dedication, the same single mindedness and self-giving, will souls be won for the kingdom. If we give to this noble task the kind of wholehearted commitment that the business man, the soldier, the lover give to theirs, we shall have the success in it that they have. Souls will be won.