Vol. 14 No. 19
Vs. 20-29: The Lasting Gratification and Establishment of the Righteous and the Demise of the Wicked.
Next we have several verses on the demise of the wicked. This last sub-unit of Chapter 21 comes to a conclusion with a list of the types of wicked men that matches the series of wicked types that began back in Chapter 20 and began this chapter in vs. 4-7, including:
- The sluggard, Prov 20:4.
- The proud Prov 20:5; 21:4.
- The liar, Prov 20:6, 14, 17; 21:2, 6.
- And climatically, the brazen wicked man, 20:3, 6; 21:10, 29.
These four wicked types, the arrogant and sluggard, vs. 24-26, and the liar and brazen wicked, vs. 28-29, bracket the hypocritical worshipper in vs. 27, cf. Prov 20:25.
Vs. 25 – 26
These next two verses are a continuation of thought. The first sentence, vs. 25, describes the wicked fool’s motivation and actions, and the second sentence, vs. 26, tells of the resultant consequences.
Prov 21:25, “The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work;”
Prov 21:26, “All day long he is craving, while the righteous gives and does not hold back.”
“Desire” is the Noun TA’AWAH that means, “longing, eager desire, appetite, lust, or delight,” and speaks to the motivation of the “sluggard,” ATSEL, “idle or lazy.” It refers to aspirations rooted deeply within his personality. TA’AWAH links this verse with vs. 26a, “cravings.” We also note that the sluggard stands opposed to the diligent as noted in vs. 5.
Linked with vs. 24, it reminds us of the three temptations of Satan, “appetite, beauty and ambitious pride,” 1 John 2:16; cf. Gen 2:6; Mat 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13.
1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
The result of the sluggard’s appetite, his wicked motivations, will “put him to death,” which is the causative active Hiphil Imperfect of MUTH that simply means, “to die” or here “he will be caused to die.”
We then see a further cause of his death with the Conjunction KI meaning, “for or because” with the intensive active Piel Perfect of MA’EN that means, “refuses” with the Qal Infinitive verb ASAH that means, “to do, make or work” with the Noun YAD for “hands.”
Appetite keeps normal people alive by driving them to work to satisfy it, but it kills the sluggard for his hands refuse to satisfy his appetite, Prov 19:24. This parasite on society, Prov 6:6, on account of laziness, his fatal spiritual flaw, obviously does not do justice, Prov 19:15. Therefore, his unfulfilled cravings kill him both by starvation and frustration, Prov 13:12.
Instead of “doing” righteousness and justice, the theme of this chapter, he refuses to “do” anything, cf. vs. 4, 7, 15. Therefore, we see that the lustful desires of the sluggard for laziness cause him to not perform any work, which causes him to perish.
We have noted the sluggard previously in Proverbs, (the spiritually lazy believer), where we have seen many problems he causes for himself:
- Prov 6:6, 9; he will always fail in the spiritual life, because his laziness results in moral failure.
- Prov 13:4; his soul wants nothing in terms of Bible Doctrine, and therefore he gets nothing.
- Prov 19:24; because he takes no initiative to learn God’s Word, he will not fulfill God’s Plan for his life, Prov 20:4.
- Prov 21:25; he will not “do his job,” especially in the spiritual life, which results in Divine discipline that could culminate in the Sin Unto Death.
- Prov 22:13; he always creates imaginary excuses for why he cannot do this or that, or why he did not do this or that for God.
- Prov 24:30; any spiritual prosperity and physical health he had will deteriorate.
- Prov 26:13-16; due to the arrogance within his soul, he considers himself wise or a spiritual giant when in fact he is not.
Prov 21:26, “All day long he is craving, while the righteous gives and does not hold back.”
“All day long” is KOL YOM that has the connotation of constantly and without any relief.
“He is craving” in the Hebrew is actually two words giving a double emphasis on his empty desires. It first has AWAH that means, “to desire,” and then TA’AWAH that means, “longing, eager desire or delight” as we had in vs. 26. Here it is in the reflexive Hithpael Imperfect for “he himself continually lusts for.” Combined with AWAH it means, “he desires to desire,” or “he longs for delight,” and underscores the intensity of the sluggard’s greed.
The consequence of the sluggard’s ungratified craving escalates from his own death in vs. 25b, to his having nothing to share with the needy and thereby to save their lives, vs. 26b.
Then we have a contrast that notes, “while the righteous,” WA TSADDIQ, “gives,” the Qal Imperfect of NATHAN, “and does not,” WA LO, “hold back,” the Qal Imperfect of CHASAK that means, “to keep back or to spare.”
This giving means to help others by graciously bestowing the basic needs for which the sluggard craves, in contrast to the sluggard who will not lift even a finger to help himself; never mind others.
- The result of diligence is the ability to help those in need. Their work flourishes, so that they have more than enough for themselves. Because they have the insight that underlies diligence, they also understand that it is better to give than to receive, and are open-handed and generous.
- The sluggard, however, will never have enough to be generous, not even when confronted with a need that he wants to meet. Laziness and diligence thus affect not only the individuals themselves, but those around them.
Summary, Vs. 25-26:
The craving sluggard is lumped with the wicked, who craves for himself without sharing, in contrast to the righteous, who rejoices in giving, thereby performing mercy and justice, vs. 3, 15a. The insolent mocker on the other hand plunders the needy; the sluggard passively. He is no better than an armed robber, Prov 6:11.
Prov 21:27, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, how much more when he brings it with evil intent!”
Sandwiched between the two pairs of wicked types, Insolent Proud and Sluggard, vs. 25-26, and the Liar and Brazen Faced, vs. 28-29, here we see principles related to the false / hypocritical worshipper, whose worship or prayers are rejected by God.
“Sacrifice” is the Noun ZEBACH (zevach) that is used over 160 times in the OT. It is used of animal and grain offerings, burnt offerings, etc. made to the Lord. It is also used for false god worship in Ex 34:15; Psa 106:28. Here it is used of sacrifices to the Lord that are given under false pretense and/or an unrepentant heart.
That is shown in the subject of this sacrifice, “the wicked,” RASHA. This wicked one stands in the middle of the pairs of nefarious types in vs. 25-26 and 28-29, as noted above. Here this false worshipper is labeled “wicked,” a term applicable to all four characters in this section, and clearly connecting this character with them. Here it identifies unbelievers, (those who do not believe salvation is given by faith alone in Christ alone), and/or apostate believers, both of which are a part of or practicing a religion.
Therefore, wicked here is the crowd who plays church, but do not have true faith in God, His Son or His Word, but they go along with the crowd or religion, performing their ritualistic rites and duties.
When these “wicked” offer something to God, it “is an abomination,” TO’EBAH, something that is detestable, to Him. This could be a sacrifice or even a prayer.
Next we have an a-fortiori principle, if the ritualistic worship of unbelievers and apostate believers is detestable to God, then “how much more”, (the emphatic conjunction APH meaning, “and, also or indeed”), is the worship noted in the phrase, “he brings it,” (the causative active Hiphil Imperfect of BO), “with evil intent,” (a compound word in the Hebrew from KI for an emphatic response, with BE meaning, “in, by or with,” and ZIMMAH for, “a shameful deed or plot” that denotes a crass plan to hurt the community), an abomination to the Lord.
“With evil intent,” is deliberately vague here in order to cover a multitude of twisted motivations. Nevertheless, we see that hypocritical worship is bad enough, but worship with evil intent is deplorable. This tells us that it is one thing to falsely worship God, but it is another thing to “try to buy Him off.” That is, to flatter or offer something to Him so that He will perform some act for your benefit, many times at the expense or detriment of others. “It is a sacrifice calculated to make God a minister of sin.” (Waltke NIC.)
James 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”
You cannot bribe or flatter God into performing some miracle or trick that will lift you up and/or bring others down. Because God is perfect righteousness and justice, He cannot and does not respond to evil or evil intent.
“Sacrifice in the ancient Near East was often an attempt to trick or manipulate gods into helping the offerer, or leaving him alone. The Lord, however, is not deceived by dissembling (false playacting) – religious or otherwise.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
Just as Prov 15:8f, gave us this a-fortiori argument, we also see here that if the mindless religious sacrifices of the unbeliever or apostate believer are rejected before they reach His altar, how much worse is it to offer a sacrifice under false pretenses. God abhors worship without righteousness; ritual without reality.
Therefore, God does not want acts of worship or prayer without repentance, (i.e., rebound and recovery, 1 John 1:9); and He certainly detests them from someone still bent on wickedness, who thinks a sacrifice or a prayer will buy acceptance with God, or a favor from Him.
In popular religion people think that sacrifices or prayers can be given for any offense and without genuine submission to God. This happens with all religious acts. But God first requires of the worshiper true repentance and resolution to live righteously. In order to please Him, we must have both positional and experiential righteousness (+R), when we go before Him in prayer or worship.
Next, in vs. 28-29, we once again have contrasts between the foolish wicked, who will be defeated, and the righteous wise, who will be victorious.
Prov 21:28, “A false witness will perish, but the man who listens to the truth will speak forever.”
In vs. 27 we noted the false worshipper. Here we see the false teacher, and the determent of teaching false doctrine contrasted to the victory gained by speaking/teaching the truth of God’s Word.
“A false witness” is the Noun KAZAB (kazav) meaning, “a lie, deception or fraud,” with the Noun ED for, “witness or testimony.” This could stand for any form of deceptive speech, but in the context of the pervious verse, it is in regard to worship of God. This is the person who consciously aims to deceive and disadvantage another, typically for his own benefit. The false witness either cannot or will not listen to Bible doctrine objectively because he has a hidden agenda that distorts the truth and so is unable to live or speak the truth of God’s Word.
The consequence for falsely worshiping God or even being a false teacher of the Word of God, is that he “will perish,” the Qal Imperfect of ABAD (avad) meaning, that person “will be destroyed, obliterated, annihilated, ruined, exterminated, or perish.” It speaks to the judgment of God that could lead to the Sin Unto Death, as the false witness will be discredited and destroyed. That is, his testimony will be destroyed and/or he will be punished. We will note this and the failure of the false witness’ attempts against the Lord in vs. 30 that tells us, “There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the LORD.”
The contrast here, “but the man,” WA ISH, “who listens,” the Qal Active Participle of SHAMA, “will speak,” the intensive active Piel Imperfect of DABAR (davar) that is translated in about thirty different ways; all of which are related to the idea of communication, “to speak or say,” “forever,” LE NETSACH, נֵצַח which is used for the first time in Proverbs that means, “ever, always or perpetual.”
Interestingly, NETSACH is “used especially in prayers to ask whether God has forgotten His people forever, (Psa 13:1; 77:8; Jer 15:18; and to affirm that He has not, Psa 9:18; 103:9.” (Complete Word Study Dictionary.)
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament notes, “The root verb NATSACH denotes both “brilliance” (yielding the connotations “preeminence, surpassing, glory, victory, leadership”) and “endurance” (supplying “longlasting, perpetual”). Returning to the noun form for the moment, then, one can grasp the difficulty of choice between “strength” or “glory” in references to divine attribute or Person. (The problem is with the English distinctives, since the Hebrew obviously embraces both at once).”
BDB basically defines the verb as “be pre-eminent, enduring, everlasting, perpetuity” and details distinctive usages from there. Hence, we see in the “listening believer” that he will speak the truth of God’s Word and have eternal glory.
Therefore, the contrast here is between true and false witnesses in the court room, or more predominately of God’s Word. The “listening” of the righteous (+R believer) means, they are taking in Bible Doctrine on a consistent basis, taking in the “truth” which is the primary requirement for gaining wisdom and its attendant or experiential righteousness, as we have noted in Prov 1:8; 2:2; 4:1f, 20; and will noted in Prov 22:17; 23:22. This explains the contrast between one who listens (i.e., to wisdom) and therefore tells the truth, with the false witness, who does not listen to the Word of God and therefore speaks falsely.
Notice the +R believer “listens” and the false witness, (the -R believer or unbeliever), “speaks.” So goes the old saying, “You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that order,” i.e., listen (take in God’s Word) twice as much as you speak.
“This believer knows how to listen attentively and critically so that his judgment is sound and his testimony reliable. Even God listens in this way (Prov 15:29).” (NIC)
Prov 15:29, “The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.”
The contrasting consequences imply that the former “perishes and does not have the last word,” but the latter “testifies successfully and does not perish.” Unlike a perjurer, a truthful witness can speak freely and without fear of negative consequences, but more importantly, can look forward with eager anticipation to the hope of eternal glory in Christ, as speaking forever means that your life will be a part of the historical record section in heaven for all to see and learn from, for all of eternity, Rev 3:12.
Rev 3:12, “’He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.”
Pillars in ancient Egypt and other societies were the structures in which they inscribed great historical feats for all to read and learn from. Pillars, made of stone or marble, would outlive their makers, inscribers and the ones whose acts where inscribed on them. Therefore, when you witness the truth of God’s Word, your words will outlast your life, and you will have an impact on generations to come.
Prov 21:29, “A wicked man shows a bold face, but as for the upright, he makes his way sure.”
By the catchword ISH, “man,” we see that the false witness in vs. 28 is linked with the “wicked man,” RASHA ISH, in vs. 29.
The false teacher, a.k.a the wicked man, “shows a bold face,” which is the verb AZAZ in the causative Hiphil Perfect that means, “to be strong or prevail,” with BE PANIM. So we have, “by or with his strong face,” which speaks to the audaciousness of his soul that is displayed in his countenance. “The image of the hardened face reflects a hardened heart (Plaut, p. 224); it portrays one who holds the opinions and views of others in contempt (see Isa 48:4; Jer 5:3; Ezek 3:7).” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary.) Therefore, he shows his defiance by his countenance, which is an abstraction for the liar/false teacher and probably all the nefarious types in this section.
Isa 48:4, “Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your forehead bronze.”
Jer 5:3b, “They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.”
We can only assume from the context of these passages that the false teacher’s bold face is in defiance of God and His Word. That is, this false teacher displays the utmost confidence in what he is teaching even though it is counter to God’s Word. And unfortunately, because of his display of confidence, many people are convinced he is correct in what he is teaching.
We also see this character in Psa 52:7, “Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and was strong in his evil desire.”
Therefore, we see the audacious boldness of the defiant liar, i.e., the false witness, where there is no true righteousness, justice, vs. 3, or mercy, vs. 10, coming from his teaching, only pseudo righteousness, justice and mercy can be expected from the brazen wicked.
Then we have the contrast, “but as for the upright” WA YASHAR, the believer walking under experiential sanctification, the +R believer, “he makes his way sure,” HU KUN DEREK.
KUN is in the causative active Hiphil Imperfect that means, “to prepare or establish.” Here it means, “he causes his way to be established.” Therefore, the path that he is walking on is caused to be a righteous one because of the Bible doctrine in his soul that leads him on the firm and sure path of life, i.e., living inside the plan of God for his life.
We have here the principle that a bold front is no substitute for sound Bible doctrine in the soul. And those who are truly righteous cultivate a consistent life style that is a true witness for Christ, which is pleasing to God.
Prov 4:26-27, “Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established. 27Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.”
In comparison to the bold face liar, this believer lives obediently to wisdom (Bible doctrine) and thus has the confidence that comes from doing what is right, Prov 28:1, “The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Vs. 30-31: Conclusion, The Sovereignty, Omniscience and Omnipotence of the Lord that Brings Him and Us Victory.
In these concluding passages, we will see that all worldly wisdom that is brought against the Lord will ultimately be defeated. Just as this chapter began with the declaration of the Sovereignty of the Lord, so it concludes, much like Chapter 16.
Prov 21:30, “There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the LORD.”
“There is no” is the Substantive AYIN meaning, “nothingness or non-existence.”
“Wisdom” is the usual CHOKMAH. It means, “to act wisely or to carry out right principles.” For example, a wise workman works according to the right principles of his craft, producing a quality product. Also morally it means, a wise person lives out the revealed principles of right and wrong, which reflect the character of God.
“And no understanding” is WA AYIN TEBUNAH. TEBUNAH means, “insight, skill or understanding.”
“And no counsel” is WA AYIN ETSAH. ETSAH means, “advice, counsel, a plan, or purpose,” that is conceived in the mind of an individual that is to be actively carried out.
“Against the Lord” is the Prepositions LE meaning, “to or towards,” and NEGED that means, “before or opposite.” When combined they mean, “against or in opposition to.”
With these three, (human wisdom, human understanding and human counsel), men come into opposition with YHWH; the Hebrew Tetragrammaton for “the Lord.”
All combined it means to act in opposition to God’s will, and inked with vs. 31, all three refer to military strategy, which reminds us that we are all a part of the Angelic Conflict. In that conflict, which is being carried out here in human history, some people are on the side of Satan, either intentionally or unintentionally. Their wisdom, understanding, counsel and planning cannot hold a candle to that of the Lord’s, and will absolutely never defeat or overrule His Sovereign will. Therefore, this triple anaphoric proverb drives home the vast and unbridgeable gulf between the best of human wisdom and the Lord’s sovereignty, 1 Cor 1:18-25; 3:19.
1 Cor 3:19, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, ‘He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS’.”
At the same time we note that this does not negate human wisdom, but puts it into perspective, in that true wisdom, counsel and understanding are from the Lord and that wisdom will stand forever, Prov 8:22-31. Human “wisdom, insight and counsel / planning,” must be in conformity to the will of God to be successful.
Yet, we see that the wicked who brazenly defy God and His wisdom, as noted in vs. 28 along with vs. 31, reminds us that no power, human or angelic, can stand before the power of God’s Word. Human plans and counsel, however wise and insightful, nor the best preparations we can make are able to frustrate the sovereign and wise Plan of God, cf. Isa 14:27.
Isa 14:27, “For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”
In comparison to the Lord, who is infinite in His omniscience and omnipotence, our human ability fails to even raise its head above the threshold of human folly. And without Him, never mind being against Him, how much does human wisdom, understanding and counsel pale in comparison and become none existent. Therefore, truly wise planning entails submitting your plans to the Lord, knowing that in the end it is His cause that will prevail, Prov 16:3f. No human being, even the upright (+R), has the power to complete his endeavor independent from the Lord. The Lord has the final word in realizing any goal, 2 Cor 13:8.
2 Cor 13:8, “For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.”
Having noted the Sovereignty and Omniscience of God, we now turn to His Sovereignty and Omnipotence.
Prov 21:31, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the LORD.”
“The Horse,” SUS סוּס, “is prepared,” the causative passive Hophal Participle of KUN, “for the horse was caused to be prepared or established,” “for the day,” LE YOM, “of battle,” MILCHAMAH, which we noted in Prov 20:17 that means war or battle. This is speaking about military preparedness.
This first phrase adds a fourth component to mankind’s and Satan’s actions in opposition to the Lord. It moves from the planning stage where “wisdom, understanding and counsel/planning” were employed, to now taking the necessary steps and actions to arrange for battle. It moves from thought to action inside the Angelic Conflict.
It also speaks to where man places his trust; in its military and economy or God. To fund a well-equipped military you must have a great economy. Many trust in their military and economy to save them, that is why Micah 5:10-16, equates trust in military hardware with idolatry and witchcraft.
“But true victory,” WA TESHUAH meaning, “deliverance or salvation,” “belongs to or comes from the Lord,” YHWH.
Notice the rhythmic linkage between TEBUNAH for “understanding” and TESHUAH for “deliverance.”
In any and every war or battle, the sovereignty of God has determined the outcome in eternity past, which fits into His overall Divine Decree for mankind. In the Angelic Conflict, the victory of the Cross of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, was Decreed in eternity past. Therefore, if you want victory in the Angelic Conflict, you must submit all your thoughts and actions to the Lord, and seek His wise Divine counsel, guidance, omnipotence and sovereignty before battle, Prov 20:18; 24:6; cf. 2 Chron 32:2-8.
Ultimate success comes from God and not from our human efforts.
“Do not fight against the Lord, and, if you want victory, do not fight without Him.” (Ryrie Study Bible.)
“Behind the victory of the righteous/wise over the wicked/fool stands the invincible Lord.” (New International Commentary)
As David notes in Psa 27:3, “Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.”
Asa noted in 2 Chron 14:11, “Then Asa called to the LORD his God, and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man (ENOSH, signifying frail and incurable. It pictures man in his low estate as fallen and mortal), prevail against You.” Read also vs. 12-13 for the victory given by the Lord.
Vernon McGee notes, “That does not mean that we are not to be prepared. Jesus said that a strong man armed keeps his palace, and his goods are in peace. “But safety is of Jehovah.” Keep your powder dry, but be sure your faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ and that you are resting in Him.” (Thru The Bible)
If you would like more information on this subject,
you may watch/listen to lesson #’s:
15-049, 15-050, 15-051
A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!