Archive for the ‘Proverbs 12’ Category

When a person is worried, they do have a tendency to hang their head low. 

In Matthew 26:37, we see that even Jesus was troubled facing the death on the cross.” And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.” 

When we are extremely sad or worried, we are said to have a heavy heart. We are also warned about too much worry. 

We are told to take no thought for what we are to say, that God will fill our ears and mouth with what we are to say. We are also taught that we should live one day at a time and not worry about tomorrow. Someone who says nice things to others makes them have a glad heart.

We see here again that hard work will get you promoted, and you will rule over those who are too lazy to work. Tribute is a little like taxes. We see again that hard work pays off. Unlike the hardworking people who have charge over their work, the lazy are eventually forced to go to work for the diligent to survive.

Prudent people have a quiet confidence.  Insecure or uncertain people feel the need to prove themselves, but prudent people don’t have to prove anything.  They know they are capable, so they can get on with their work.  Beware of showing off.  If you are modest, people may not notice you at first, but they will respect you later. 

Under Gods Command

Proverbs 22:12 – The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

We have studied in a previous lesson that the eyes of the Lord is referring to God’s omniscience.
We see the eyes of the Lord watching over and protecting those who are following in His ways. This person, as we have said, is knowledgeable unto salvation. In the second half of this, we see that the Lord does not help the sinner further his sins.

Under Gods Command

Proverbs 12:16 A fool show his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

Shame on you! What are you angry about? Why are you upset? What is all that bad? Why are you so bent out of shape? The goodness of God endureth continually (Ps 52:1)! You have ten times as many things to be happy and thankful about than to be mad about!

A quick temper marks a fool, since prudent men avoid the shame of wrath by ruling their spirits. Be quick to hear, forgive, and serve; but be slow to speak and to wrath (Jas 1:19). It is infants and young, poorly-trained children that scream for little or no reason; do not prove yourself immature to others by not being able to control and govern your emotions.

Wrath is vehement or violent anger; intense exasperation or resentment; deep indignation. Wise men, obeying the Bible, rule their spirits to keep from such feelings toward others, unless the cause is virtuous and justifiable (Pr 14:17,29). “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Pr 16:32).

Anger and wrath are powerful passions, and they make men say and do things they would not otherwise do. Therefore, they must be ruled, and ruled tightly. Moses angrily smote the rock instead of speaking to it, and the Lord kept him from entering Canaan (Num 20:7-13). Anger moved Saul to try to kill his own faithful son Jonathan (I Sam 20:30-34).

Not all anger is wrong, as Jesus only condemned anger “without a cause” (Matt 5:21-22). Of course, modern Bible versions, following their contemporary, effeminate brand of Christianity, have omitted these words in order to condemn all anger. By so doing they have indicted God, Jesus Christ, and holy prophets, apostles, and saints as sinners!

Paul further clarified this important point, as he explained, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph 4:26). When anger does occur, you cannot let it cause you to sin; and anger should not be allowed to fester and turn into bitterness. The matter of provocation should be dealt with righteously and brought to a quick end.

Fools are quick to get angry, for no right reason, and they let their anger boil. It is presently known – it is quickly visible in their faces and obvious in their speech. They prove they are fools by not restraining their passions. Wise men restrain their spirits and control their reactions to any situation. Fools react without thinking; wise men think before reacting. Fools are controlled by their anger; wise men control their anger.

Here is the important lesson of the proverb. A prudent man will think first and avoid the shame of hasty anger causing him to act foolishly (Eccl 7:9). The purpose of Proverbs is to teach you wisdom for success in life – and you will never be successful, if you do not learn to control and rule your passions, especially wrath, anger, and envy (Pr 27:4).

The difference between men that control their emotions and those that do not is very great. Solomon honored that difference by exalting the self-controlled man as a mighty man of valor and military conqueror (Pr 16:32). He also warned that angry men were vulnerable to any adversity and would be easily destroyed in their endeavors (Pr 25:28).

Another lesson, though not taught here directly, is that a wise man avoids angry men, lest he get a snare to his soul (Pr 22:24-25). If you associate with those who do not rule their spirits and tempers, you will pick up their perverse habits (Pr 13:20; I Cor 15:33). If you once had self-control and composure, you will lose it, and you will begin to fail in life.

Reader, rule your spirit; do not let it rule you. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (Jas 1:20). It is impossible to be the child of God you should be, if you let anger burst from your heart and bring you to shame. There is no glory in anger and strife, regardless of how your flesh, the world, or Satan lies to you (Jas 3:14-16).

World class athletes control and rule all desires and passions in their diligent pursuit of championships (I Cor 9:24-25). It is called temperance. They know that to be the best requires denying impulses to eat, sleep, alter training, or take a day off. If you want to win the incorruptible crown of Jesus Christ, you must also deny yourself (I Cor 9:26-27).

Under Gods Command 

Proverbs 12:10 A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

How well do you treat animals? It can be a measure of your character. A good man is merciful; he is gentle and kind; he is ruled by pity and compassion; he will not be mean or hard. But the wicked are cruel. Even their kindness is harsh, for they lack the tender, gentle spirit of the righteous man, who is concerned even for animals. They are not kind and merciful; they are like their master the devil, a liar and murderer from the beginning.

This proverb is not for PETA. The lesson is not the care of animals, but the illustration of compassion. While the LORD ordained merciful care of animals from the working ox to birds in the nest (Deut 25:4; 22:6-7), He also gave man dominion over them to work them, wear their skins, sacrifice them, and eat them (Gen 1:26-28; 3:21; 4:4; 9:1-4). A man may hunt honorably even today, but boyish torture of insects or animals is profane.

This writer witnessed many Amish horse-and-buggies in northwestern Pennsylvania as a boy. The difference in men’s character was visible, by this proverb. Some horses were well fed and groomed; others were undernourished and neglected. On hot days, some men walked their horses up the area’s steepest and longest hill; others whipped them on, ignoring the temperature, grade, or speed. And these were often the more pitiful horses!

The lesson is this: righteous men are tender, gentle, compassionate, and merciful; but the wicked are hard, harsh, inconsiderate, and cruel. A righteous man will bear the fruit of the Spirit, which includes tenderhearted gentleness (Gal 5:22-23; Eph 4:32; James 3:17). If you want to be like Jesus Christ instead of the devil, learn gentle kindness (II Co 10:1).

Dear reader, are you compassionate before God and men? Here is how you can show your God and Father’s character, Who sends warm sunshine and nourishing rain on His enemies (Matt 5:43-48). The LORD, though great and dreadful in judgment, is a God full of compassion and tender mercies (Ps 36:7; 103:4; 145:9; Lam 3:22). His ordinance of the O.T. Sabbath included rest for working animals (Ex 23:12; Deut 5:14). How merciful!

A righteous man is merciful to himself (Pr 11:17), animals (Gen 24:19,32; 33:13-14), his wife (I Pet 3:7; Col 3:19), his children (Ps 103:13; Col 3:21), his friends (Jas 3:17-18), and his enemies (Ps 35:11-16). He will not foolishly afflict, punish, or trouble them (Lam 3:32-33; Gal 6:10). He will rather pamper these same parties with kindness. He loves mercy, just like His Father in heaven loves mercy (Mic 6:8; 7:18; Eph 4:32; I Pet 3:8-9).

But the wicked are perverse; their tender mercies are cruel and harsh. They trouble their own souls (Pr 11:17) and neglect their own flesh and blood (I Tim 5:8). Balaam cruelly beat his ass (Num 22:22-32); Judah’s tender mercy to Joseph was to sell him (Gen 37:26-28); Adonibezek had seventy kings without thumbs or big toes under his table (Judges 1:7); Nahash accepted surrender on terms of putting out all right eyes (I Sam 11:1-2); Joab murdered Abner and Absalom in cold blood (II Sam 3:39; 18:5); Rehoboam scorned his own willing nation (II Chron 10:1-19); Jezebel murdered Naboth for a mere vineyard (I Kgs 21:1-16); Pilate offered to chastise the innocent Lord before letting Him go (Luke 23:13-16); and the Romans broke legs to end crucifixions (John 19:31-32)!

Righteous Job tenderly cared for his servants and the poor (Job 31:13-22), but his wife cruelly stabbed him in his darkest hour of need (Job 2:9). David mercifully spared Saul’s life (I Sam 24:1-22), but his daughter Michal scorned David’s finest worship of God (II Sam 6:20-23). Joseph mercifully protected Mary, though horribly hurt (Matt 1:19), but Judah forgot his promise to the lonely and needy Tamar (Gen 38:11-26).

A wicked man will treat his wife harshly, work too many hours, yell at the children, stay at cheap hotels on vacation, forget to feed the fish, slander his enemy, think romance is effeminate, neglect to train his children, expect the family to appreciate his personal preferences, criticize his wife to others, not take his mother out to eat, repeat stories about a co-worker, treat his daughters like sons, or clam up and avoid talking to the family.

A wicked woman will presume she is better than her husband, gossip about the neighbor, criticize her mother-in-law, defraud her husband of daily sex, over-protect her sons from boyish activities, fret about things to get done, nag rather than punish the children, correct her husband often, worry too much about details, dote on the children to the neglect of her man, make the family eat a veggie pizza, or beg for pity for her hard life.

Let every melancholy, introverted masochist read these words: “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh” (Pr 11:17). Your self-reflection and negative thoughts are wrong and destructive. They destroy you and those around you by your sullenness, withdrawal, bad attitude, critical outlook, or harsh words.

How merciful is a “quiet man,” who clams up? The “strong leader,” who yells frequently at home? The “thoughtful man,” who remembers offences and harbors bitterness? The “funny man,” who laughs all the time and only thinks about himself? The “zealous man,” who cannot forgive quickly and completely? These persons are not merciful at all.

Mercy does not compromise God’s standards (I Kgs 20:31-34). His law includes mercy, and you do not have the wisdom or right to modify His rules. Mercy compromises your standards, your opinions, your feelings, your habits, and your convenience for others.

You will receive the mercy and compassion you give, so it is important you show kindness and gentleness to yourself and others (Jas 2:13). Tender words are not enough: you need bowels of compassion (Col 3:12-13; I John 3:17) and their actions (Jas 2:16).

The blessed Lord showed His tender mercies from hungry crowds to a single grieving widow, from an untouchable leper to a despairing Mary Magdalene (Mark 8:1-2; Luke 7:11-15; Mark 1:40-44; John 20:11-18). And He is compassionate and merciful to you every day, dear reader. If you are a child of the King, then show tender mercy to all, as does your gracious King. Show His grace in your life by reflecting it to all others.

Under Gods Command 

Proverbs 12:17 A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.

Truth proves a man is righteous, and he helps matters of controversy for righteousness. Therefore, a man who speaks the truth is valuable for court and friendship. A witness that misrepresents the truth has a deceitful spirit, and he affects controversies by confusing justice and righteousness (Pr 14:5,25; 19:28; 21:28). He is to be despised and avoided.

Truth and righteousness are inseparable. There can be no justice without truth, and there can be no truth without justice. Equitable relationships among men, whether private or public, require honesty and truth. If these are compromised, then righteousness is also compromised. If less than the truth is presented, then deceit has entered to that degree. From economic transactions to religious declarations, righteousness depends upon truth.

The God of the Bible, Creator of heaven and earth, is a God of truth (Deut 32:4). So much is He a God of truth, He cannot lie (Heb 6:18; Titus 1:2). His Son Jesus Christ is the Faithful and True Witness (Rev 3:14; 19:11). His written revelation, the Bible, is very sure and true in every word and all it declares (Pr 30:5; Ps 19:9; 93:5; 119:128,138).

God hates liars. They confound and overthrow righteousness in the earth, whether private or public. Their misrepresentations deceive men into believing things that are not true, which perverts decision-making, misleads people into trouble, condemns the innocent, protects the wicked, destroys His gospel, and promotes frauds and scams. Therefore, all liars shall spend an eternity of torment in the lake of fire after this life (Rev 21:8).

God hates liars. “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him – a lying tongue – a false witness that speaketh lies” (Pr 6:16-19). Therefore, good and honest men reject liars! David said, “He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight” (Ps 101:7).

God hates liars. One of the Ten Commandments condemns false witnesses (Ex 20:16). The LORD warned men to stay far away from any falsehood in trials (Ex 23:1-7). If a man perjured himself in court, he received the punishment that was being deliberated, even if it was capital punishment (Deut 19:16-21). What a way to enhance the memory!

God hates liars. And He loves to expose them. Be sure your sin will find you out. Achan lied about stealing from Jericho, but he was discovered, stoned, and burned with his family (Josh 7:1-26). Ananias and Sapphira lied about their large gift to the church, and members of the youth group buried them that day (Acts 5:1-11). What an object lesson!

God hates liars. The first liar in the universe was the devil, who lied to Eve and damned the human race to eternal death. He is the father of all lies, and there is no truth in him (John 8:44). Anyone telling a lie is following his wicked influence and showing that their heart is under his control, even ministers of the gospel (II Cor 11:1-4,13-15; Eph 2:1-3).

God hates liars. When men prefer lies over truth, the God of truth will send them lies to believe, as their just punishment (I Kgs 22:1-40; Ezek 14:6-11; II Thess 2:9-12). When men reject the obvious truth that is revealed in the created universe, he blinds their minds and leaves them to disgusting same-sex perversions (Ps 19:1-6; Is 44:9-20; Ro 1:18-27).

Therefore, let every reader tremble before the God of truth. Let every reader hate lying, exaggerating, slandering, perjuring, misrepresenting, fudging, or any other form of deceit. Let every reader prove and show his righteousness by always exalting honesty and truth, no matter the circumstances or situation. Let him be honest and open at all times.

Let every parent teach and enforce truth in the home, so that children grow up hating and avoiding lies and liars as much as their Creator. Parents should require sufficient research before opinions are declared. They should punish exaggeration. And on the hierarchical scale of offences, children should know clearly that lying is the worst sin of all.

Thankfully, the God of truth sent His Son to save some liars from their sins, which He did by paying the eternal debt of punishment for them. He then created in them a new heart that loves truth and hates lies (Eph 1:3-12; 2:1-10; 4:24). The gospel of Jesus Christ found in the Bible is the only source of truth in the world that can save a person from the devil’s deceit and destruction that is on every side (I Tim 6:3-5,20-21; II Tim 3:13).


Under Gods Command

Proverbs 12:2 A good man obtains favor from the LORD, but the LORD condemns a crafty man. 

God can raise beggars up out of a sewer and put them on the throne of glory, and He can put the greatest monarch in world history out to pasture, literally (II Sam 7:8; Dan 4:27-33). The true God rewards your conduct in this life – think David and Nebuchadnezzar; and He rewards it in the next life – think Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31).

Dear reader, it would do you good to read Hannah’s prayer of praise (I Sam 2:1-10). She knew the LORD was a God of knowledge and that He weighed the actions of men. She praised Him for His great work of putting one person up and putting another down. He made a great difference between her and her adversary (I Sam 1:4-8,17-20; 2:18-21,26).

The LORD’s favour is wonderful. It is better than the mythical touch of Midas, better than friendship with Bill Gates, and better than the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction. There is nothing like it in this world or the next (Ps 4:6-8; 16:11). How can you measure having the Lord as your Friend, Comforter, Benefactor, and Protector?

His favour can make all the difference in the world in a man’s life. Can you fully comprehend it? How can you describe it? If He blesses your soul, your body, your marriage, your children, the work of your hands, and your eternal destination, what else is there (Ps 1:1-6; 73:23-27; 128:1-6; 144:11-15)? Thank you, blessed God and Father!

But His condemnation is a horrible thing. It far exceeds any personal or natural disaster, for the Creator God becomes your enemy and will torment you in this life and the next. He can torment your soul with fear and trembling that is indescribable (Deut 28:65-68). Terminal cancer and annihilation would be a relief from what He can do to you. How can you measure the horror of the LORD God chasing you into eternity (Ps 35:5-6)?

Jesus told His disciples that pain and death were nothing at all. Why fear men, He asked? They cannot do anything of serious or lasting harm. He taught them the only true Person to fear was His Father, Who was able to kill the body in this life and then send both body and soul to hell for eternal torment. You should fear Him, Jesus warned (Luke 12:4-5).

What makes this difference – the great distances between God’s responses? Your choices today, reader. That is right! Your choices today will either be good in His sight, or they will be wicked. You think you can do what you want? You think you have a right to your own life? You think you can protect yourself from Him? You think you can avoid the consequences of your sin? You think He does not see? Does not care? Guess again, fool!

A good man is made good by God’s grace (Ps 14:1-3; Gal 5:22-23), but God’s grace must be used to be the good man here (I Cor 15:10; II Cor 6:1). A good man finds the favour of the great God by laying hold of wisdom and obeying it (Pr 8:35). A foolish man rejects wisdom and by doing so wrongs his own soul and chooses death instead (Pr 8:36).

The defining difference between the two persons is how they treat wisdom – God’s instructions for living found in the Bible. Reader, do you tremble before the words of God yet? Will you even take enough time to read and consider the warning of this proverb? Will you do anything about it? What will you do to obey God better? Today?

Reject wisdom, and God will tear you in pieces, and there will be no one to save you (Ps 50:22; Hos 5:14; 13:8)! He will turn your life upside down and inside out (Ps 146:9). He will smash your face and break out your teeth (Ps 3:7; 58:6). If you think for one second God has changed, try Hebrews 10:26-31; 12:28-29; and 13:8. When He comes in anger, men beg for mountains to fall on them and hide them (Rev 6:16-17). Do not be a fool!

Beware, lest you think it is your idea and measure of what makes a good man. Do not let anyone, even your dear mother, flatter you into thinking you are a good man. The holy God has no regard for such foolish thoughts. He will only favour the man who trembles before His word and keeps His commandments with a humble heart (Ps 112:1-4; Is 66:2).

The difference in His response is enormous; it is immeasurable. Do you see it clearly? He can bless so abundantly and so kindly, and He can destroy so horribly and so painfully.

Did the LORD’s favour make a difference in Joseph’s life? An incredible difference! How about Abraham? Ruth? Esther? Job? David? Daniel? Mary Magdalene?

Did the LORD’s condemnation make a difference in Saul’s life? What tormenting misery! How about Cain? Lot? Eli? Nabal? Jehoram? Uzziah? Judas? Herod?

Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up (Jas 4:10). There is precious favour to be obtained from the LORD God. Some men walked with Him as their Friend, others walked straight into heaven without dying, and yet others had His benevolent care and protection around and upon them wherever they went and whatever they did. Do good, and you will love life and see good days (I Pet 3:10-12)!


Under Gods Command

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool seem right to him, but a wise man listen to advice.

Every fool thinks he is right. He cannot think otherwise. He thinks everyone else is wrong. A wise man learns to resent his own thoughts. He knows they are selfish, biased, and deceitful. Instead he listens attentively and submissively to the counsel of others, for he knows they are speaking with less selfishness, bias, and deceit than his heart thinks.

Man is corrupt from the inside out. His heart – the internal place of affections, motives, and choices – is the most corrupt part of all. The Bible declares the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, which indicts it horribly (Jer 17:9). Who can truly know the perverse nature of their heart? Not you, unless you believe the Bible.

By nature, you hate God, wisdom, correction, and those who correct you. By nature, you love yourself, presume you are right, and believe you do everything better than others.  The only reason you ever fail is someone else’s fault or bad circumstances. You have every base covered to continue believing you were and are always right. What folly!

To crawl out of this cesspool of human pride and rebellion, you must learn to mistrust, criticize, and resent your own thoughts. This is one of the toughest challenges of wisdom, for with powerful instincts and lusts you want to protect and follow your thoughts. It is the ultimate exercise in humility to admit your own error and accept another’s opinion.

The single best measure of wisdom is your ability to crush your own thoughts and receive instruction. This is the most common point made by Solomon throughout the book of Proverbs. He constantly appeals to his hearers to receive instruction, knowing that their hearts naturally rebel against any advice or ideas contrary to their own.

Each man must come to God and Scripture in total trust and submission. A holy esteem must be formed for every precept; a holy hatred must be cultivated for every contrary thought (Ps 119:128). Solomon wrote, “Trust in the lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Pr 3:5).  “Be not wise in thine own eyes” (Pr 3:7).

You must silence your screaming heart. Crave wisdom, and admit it is not in you by nature. Acknowledge that only God truly has real wisdom. Prove all things by Scripture (I Thess 5:21; Acts 17:11). Use a multitude of wise counselors for practical decisions (Pr 11:14; 15:22; 24:6). Keep your heart diligently and strictly (Pr 4:23; Is 8:20).

Daily choices bring your heart into play. Fools listen to their hearts; wise men consult God’s word. Fools reject others’ instruction and warnings; wise men love and seek them. Do not be content thinking you are right; make sure you are right by these two criteria.

Under Gods Command

Proverbs 12:26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray

All men are not equal, not even close. A righteous man is superior to his wicked neighbor in character, conduct, situation, and expectation. But this superiority does his neighbor and other wicked men no good, for they are seduced by the world to continue in their wickedness. They cannot and will not choose the more excellent way of righteousness.

Saul and David, the first two kings of Israel, illustrate this proverb perfectly. Solomon would have known the comparison very well from childhood, so the Holy Spirit reduced the royal history preceding him to this pithy and precious statement of wisdom.

David was a righteous man after God’s own heart (I Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22). He conducted himself so perfectly his name was much revered in Israel (I Sam 18:30). Every king had to be compared to him (I Kgs 15:1-5), and even the Lord Jesus is known as David and the Son of David (Jer 30:9; Matt 22:42). The sweet psalmist of Israel was more excellent than his neighbor. He was a noble man, as all still admit to this day.

Saul was his neighbor. Saul was a profane man. He would not wait for Samuel, but offered a sacrifice himself (I Sam 13:10-14). He tried to kill his own son for eating a little honey, but the people stopped him (I Sam 14:43-45). In the matter of the Amalekites, God compared his rebellion and stubbornness to witchcraft and idolatry (I Sam 15:22-23). Rather than waiting on the Lord, he consulted the witch of Endor (I Sam 28:1-7).

God compared these two men. Samuel said, “The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou” (I Sam 15:28). Samuel also said, “And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David” (I Sam 28:17). Understand the proverb. Be attentive to comparisons God makes.

Saul knew the superior excellency of David. He heard him play the harp skillfully; he watched him kill Goliath; he heard his modest response; he watched his son Jonathan prefer David; he saw the people accept David; and he knew that God was with David. He said to David, “Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil” (I Sam 24:17). Saul also said to David, “Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail” (I Sam 26:25).

But this knowledge about David’s superiority did Saul no good, for the envy of his wicked heart found greater comfort and satisfaction in the way of the wicked. He was seduced away from David’s righteousness to his own folly. Rather than begging God for forgiveness and befriending David, he sought repeatedly to kill him in jealous rages. He degenerated in wickedness until he was lying on the ground before the witch of Endor. Two days later his head was cut off and his body nailed to the wall of a Philistine village.

“The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.” Righteousness is the goal. You need to live like the sons of God (Matt 5:43-48; Eph 5:8; I Thess 5:5-11; I Pet 2:9-11). If the world hates you, rejoice and be very glad, for they hated the Saviour and all His disciples, though this wicked world was not worthy of even their presence (Heb 11:38).

“But the way of the wicked seduceth them.” Worldly men may heap up riches and live extravagantly; they may give themselves over greedily to all sort of carnal pleasures; they may live ever so fine with the groupies of this world singing their praise; but they are rushing through the wide gate and down the broad way to destruction both now and later.

The righteous and the wicked have equality in their nature from Adam, but they are totally different by other measures. The character of the righteous is more excellent, for they have the Spirit of God within them, conforming them to the image of Jesus Christ and bearing much virtuous fruit against which there is no law (Gal 5:22-23; Eph 2:10; 4:24; II Pet 1:3). They love, forgive, serve, and die like no others of the human race.

The conduct of the righteous is more excellent, for they have intimate knowledge of coming judgment and Christ’s infinite love to motivate them (II Cor 5:9-15). They have the glorious example of the Lord Jesus Christ to follow (I Pet 2:18-25). And they have the perfect rules of heaven’s wisdom in the Scriptures that the world despises (Is 8:20).

The situation of the righteous is more excellent, for he is a child of God, a king and priest with full privileges at the throne of God, the temple of the Holy Ghost, with God’s ears open to His prayers, a sympathetic mediator at God’s right hand, perfectly righteous by justification in Christ, a friend of God, and with heaven’s angels for his personal servants.

The expectation of the righteous is more excellent, for they shall be admitted to heaven’s glory with great joy, while Jesus Christ shall repudiate the wicked and cast them into the lake of fire. Which neighbor is more excellent, Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, or the rich man in hell? Which inheritance is more excellent, heaven’s mansions or hell’s fires?

Wicked men cannot see the superiority of the righteous, for they are seduced by sin and Satan to follow the world to hell. Balaam prophesied of Israel’s excellence, but his love of money seduced him (Num 23:10; II Pet 2:15). Herod gladly heard John the Baptist, but his wicked wife seduced him to behead John (Mark 6:17-29). Stephen’s face glowed like an angel; the Jews could not resist his wisdom; he preached a great sermon; but the rabid Jews were provoked by their hatred of Jesus Christ to stone him (Acts 6:8 – 7:60).

The way of the righteous and the way of the wicked are totally incompatible with each other. The righteous hate the wicked, and the wicked hate the righteous (Pr 29:27). It has always been that way, and it will always be this way. Righteous men seek out other good men to love (Ps 16:3; 119:63; Tit 1:8), and they do all they can to avoid the wicked (Ps 101:1-8; II Thess 3:1-2). The wicked are happy in their large crowd rushing down the slippery slope into hell, and the righteous rejoice with a few believers seeking holiness.

Christian reader, what can you learn? What the world thinks of the righteous is irrelevant! The world may offer temporary pleasure, but it is only seduction to destruction. Wise men reject this world and all its pleasures, philosophies, parties, and privileges. And your life should be more excellent to raise questions from other righteous souls (I Pet 3:15). Grasp these four applications. Choose to grow in favor with God and good men, by rejecting the ways of this wicked world (Luke 2:52; James 4:4; I John 2:15-17). God forbid that any reader of this proverb should be seduced by the insanity of this world.

The blessed Lord Christ was more excellent than all men, yet this world despised and hated Him. They lied about Him, falsely accused Him, exchanged a murderer for Him, mocked Him, tortured Him, and nailed Him naked on a cruel cross in public. The Jews’ love of hypocrisy and ceremonial religion seduced them to get rid of the most excellent neighbor the earth has ever seen! They would do it again today, if they had the chance. And they will do the same to His followers, who are also more excellent than they.