The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand
The principle that Solomon is trying to establish is that the wicked are always looking over their shoulder to see if the justice that they are due has arrived. Wickedness is profitable in the short term, but it is not secure. Wickedness is taking shortcuts outside of God’s moral boundary structure to gain abundance. You steal, you lie, you commit adultery, you covet, and you use violence and intimidation in order to get what you want. Taking moral shortcuts to the good life may produce some of the prosperity and pleasure that you are looking for, but there is a continuing element of uncertainty. When will “they” find out? When will I be cheated like I cheated others? If there is a God, then I am in big trouble.
Solomon wants us to build our lives on a safe and stable platform and that is righteousness or actions that are within the moral boundaries of the Ten Commandments. Yes, I know that it is not possible for anyone to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly and earn their way into heaven, but the moral boundaries of the Ten Commandments are the basis of righteousness between people. It is this moral high ground that will be safe and stable for the development of a great life without concern that it will all be taken away in an instant.
Solomon is saying that when the wicked are overthrown because of their wickedness, they are no more. There is nothing with which to rebuild. The obvious case in our day and age is Bernie Madoff, who swindled people out of 50 billion dollars of investments, and when it came crashing down has nothing for his family and his heirs. He said he knew it would happen one day and was just waiting until they came and got him. It took much longer than he expected because others were duplicitous in his wickedness, but his day of reckoning came and it will not be rebuilt.
Don’t be like those whom Jesus says build their life upon the shifting sands of deception, stealing, anger, violence, and pride. Instead be among those who build their life on honesty, love, integrity, and diligence. Embrace the grace of Christ and your need for His mercy. Start living a life of integrity in which you have nothing to hide.
Who has the responsibility of overthrowing the wicked? Is it God alone or do individuals, institutions, and leaders have the responsibility to echo God’s action in this?
Another principle lying dormant in this verse is the principle of the overthrow of the wicked and who is supposed to do it. There has been a fundamental misunderstanding over how the wicked are to be overthrown in this world. Many people believe that it is God’s job to do it and for man to stand back and watch it happen. But clearly by what God says in Genesis 9:6 Anyone who sheds man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed! is that He has delegated the majority of justice to mankind to police itself. It is when men and women look the other way at evil that wickedness is allowed to flourish.
There are a number of cynics, skeptics, and critics of Christianity and religion in general who ask questions about the goodness of God and the evil in the world. What they usually mean is the evil that humanity does to itself in various governments and spots around the world. They have the belief that if there was a good and powerful God that He would automatically put a stop to people doing evil to one another. But it escapes their purview that God has delegated much of this function to men themselves. He wants us to seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk in humbleness before our God. He is proving to us that we are not the gods that we think we are. He is proving that our confident superiority is not superior at all. He is giving us the freedom to destroy ourselves. We are commissioned with taking the blueprints that He has given us and what resides in our conscience to draw moral boundaries for the whole of the society, not just for ourselves.
I can remember when my father helped me see this truth. He was offered an opportunity to get a really good deal on some things that he had been looking for at a swap meet. He refused. I remember his telling me that he refused because he discovered that the items that were discounted were stolen items. The good deal was because the seller had ripped them off. He told me that if he had purchased the items, then he would be creating a demand for stolen items. He was aware that the price was attractive and he would have personally benefitted by this offer, but he would have created another level of demand for stolen merchandise. He had to look out for not just what was good for him but what was good for the whole of the society. We face this dilemma regularly. We can personally profit by going outside some moral boundary, but we encourage a consequence that we don’t want in which others we don’t know will be harmed or damaged.
In our day we are seeing a new level of human trafficking for sexual activity. This is universally deplored for the oppression, slavery, violence, emotional damage, and imprisonment involved; but most are unwilling to understand that when we encourage adultery in any of its seven unbiblical forms, we increase the demand for sexual activity which will encourage human trafficking. The Christian is not just against one form of adultery but all forms because it will end up in the enslavement of women and children for sexual purposes. It is on us as a society to draw the moral boundaries where they go and where a society is sustainable. If we encourage stealing, adultery, and lying, then we should not be surprised that we have a significant level of wickedness living all around us. We must seek good government that will move in the direction of justice for the poor, oppressed, and afflicted – not just the wealthy and influential.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.