September 11th 2018 – Proverbs 24:17-22

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
    and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
 lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
    and turn away his anger from him.
 Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
    and be not envious of the wicked,
 for the evil man has no future;
    the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
 My son, fear the Lord and the king,
    and do not join with those who do otherwise,
 for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
    and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?

Proverbs 24:17-22

There is more in 17 and 18 about falling, and the general theme of the previous verses is continued, this time however with a warning not to gloat over one's enemy when he falls. We see the closeness of spirit these verses share with the New Testament when we compare them with, e. g. Romans 11:18-21, 12:20 21, and 1 Corinthians 13:6a, which Moffatt renders 'Love is never glad when others go wrong'. The gloating may be more reprehensible in the sight of God than the enemy's guilt. The note struck in 19, 20 repeats the theme of 24:1 (see Note). The words breathe a faith and trust in the divine sovereignty, which is the true source of peace in the midst of the injustices of life. The emphasis in 21 runs uniformly through the New Testament and both Paul and Peter stand firmly on this position (cf 1 Peter 2:13ff and Romans 13:1-7) To meddle with those given to change would be to associate with or assist men who by rebellion and intrigue disturb the peace and order of society. Such should be given a wide berth. We wonder how many starry-eyed idealists have been beguiled into violence and revolution through ignorance of the teaching that such Scriptures give. A healthy respect for law and order is something our society is in sore need of today. The RSV takes 21b to mean 'do not disobey either of them', following the Greek rather than the Hebrew. The resultant translation reads more clearly (but also more generally) than the AV. Either way, however, the message is clear and plain: the Scriptures give absolute precedence to law and order over revolution and chaos, and we cannot get away from this without 'wresting them to our own destruction'. The only revolution that the Christian is permitted to become involved in is the revolution of love: and the weapons of this warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. They should be tried!