Digging a Pit for Oneself
1. So far, this chapter has been arranged in clusters of verses which speak of a single topic or theme.
2. There has been somewhat of a context in this chapter.
3. The last cluster of verses (23-26) dealt with the subject of hypocrisy.
4. Some see the last two verses of this chapter continuing the same theme.
a. That is certainly a possibility and may have been Solomon’s intention in placing these verses here.
b. However, they also stand alone as individual proverbs which can be applied in many other settings, other than simply hypocrisy.
The Basic Meaning of the Two Illustrations
A. Digging a Pit and Falling In
1. This situation pictures a man who is digging a pit in order to catch someone or something.
2. Pits were often dug to catch a large animal – like a trap. A flimsy cover would be placed over the pit to make it look like solid ground, and the animal would fall in.
3. Of course, one could also dig a pit to trap another human being.
4. But whatever the specific purpose of digging the pit was, the ultimate purpose was that it function as a snare and a trap.
5. Falling into the pit that one dug speaks of a man who seeks to trap others and finds that he himself is the one who ends up falling in and getting trapped.
6. His plan to trap others backfired on him. It boomeranged and hit him in the head and he fell prey to this own cruel trap.
B. Rolling a Stone and Having It Return on You
1. This illustration teaches the very same lesson using a different illustration.
2. Here a man is rolling a stone in hopes of harming someone.
3. Perhaps it is being rolled to trap someone in a cave so they can’t get out and will die. Perhaps it is being rolled off a cliff to land on someone below.
4. But in this illustration, that stone that was intended to be rolled on someone else instead rolls back on the person rolling the stone.
5. Again, his plan backfired on him. He intended to crush someone else with the stone, but instead, he himself was crushed. The harm he intended to inflict on others fell upon him.
C. “You Reap What You Sow”
1. Both illustrations teach this same truth.
2. This is such a common concept it is found in literature worldwide:
a. Ancient Proverb – “Before you begin on the journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
b. Shakespeare: “The wheel is come full circle.”
c. Latin proverb – “He prepares evil for himself who plots mischief for others.”
d. Japanese proverb: “All evil done clings to the body.”
e. American proverb: “What goes around comes around.”
3. The difference between this principle in the book of Proverbs and other literature:
a. The Bible is inspired by God; the others are not.
b. The principle found in the Bible is based on the Providence and Sovereignty of God—not on fate, or the gods, mother earth, or karma.
c. Universally men have noticed that this seems to happen with great frequency. It has become proverbial in every land.
d. And also almost universally, men attribute it to the wrong source—anything but the true and living God.
e. While the principle mentioned in Proverbs 26:27 is not always true in this life, it IS always true from eternity’s perspective.
f. Not in every case does a man who sets a trap for another person fall into his own trap in this life. Sometimes wicked men seem to get away with their wickedness in this life.
g. But ultimately divine justice will catch up to that man. He will experience divine wrath for his evil work at the Great White Throne Judgment Seat.
‘You reap what you sow’ found throughout the Bible:
1. Gal. 6:7-8 – you reap what you sow.
a. This is the expression we all know.
b. It sums up the principle well using an analogy from farming that everyone can easily understand.
c. Paul applies it to living in the flesh – one reaps the fruit of the flesh.
2. Ps. 7:15-16: “He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. 16His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.”
a. In this psalm, David is writing about his enemies.
b. They seek mischief against him; but he knows that when they dig a pit, they shall fall into it.
c. In other words, he is trusting in God to providentially deal with his enemies… either in this life or the life to come. He doesn’t have to take matters into his own hands.
3. Ps. 9:15-16 – “The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. 16The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.”
a. Once again, David is writing of his enemies.
b. He trusts that they will sink into the pits they have dug for him.
c. David trusts that the wicked will be snared in the works of his own hands – the very snare they made with their own hands will ensnare them.
4. Ps. 10:2 – “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.”
a. In this psalm, the wicked are persecuting the poor.
b. The psalmist is praying that God would judge the enemies by causing them to be taken in their own devices.
5. Ecc. 10:8 – “He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.”
a. Here again is a proverbial statement in which Solomon says the wicked man falls into the pit he dug for others.
b. Then he uses another illustration of a man who breaks up a person’s hedge… which often served as a wall of protection for a man’s household against wild animals.
c. The enemy who seeks to break up the hedge that the man’s household might be harmed is harmed himself: a serpent bites him.
6. This concept is found often in the poetic portions of God’s Word.
7. We read examples of it in the historical narratives of the Old Testament:
a. Haman was hanged on the very gallows he had built to hang his enemy.
b. The presidents who schemed to have Daniel cast into the den of lions were themselves cast into the den of lions.
8. It is like the justice of the law: an eye for an eye – the harm you seek for others will be your own punishment.
9. There is a perfect sense of justice in this which every open and honest mind will see and agree.
“You reap what you sow” in Proverbs:
1. Prov. 1:18-19 – Thieves, criminals, and violent men who lay in wait to harm others invariably find that they are actually laying in wait for their own blood.
2. Prov. 1:30 – Those who reject Lady Wisdom’s good advice shall eat the fruit of their own way; filled with their own devices.
3. Prov. 12:13 – “The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.”
4. Prov. 14:14 – The backslider shall be filled with his own ways.
5. Prov. 18:7 – His lips are the snare of his soul.
6. Prov. 28:10 – The one who leads others astray shall fall into his own pit.
7. Solomon has brought up this same principle over and over again in this book – in many different settings: criminals; violent men; fools who reject wisdom; backsliders; gossipers; those who plot evil against others.
8. And while the principle may be worded in many various ways, the same principle appears.
The possible connection to the previous verses in this context
1. As we noted, the last cluster of verses (23-26) dealt with the subject of hypocrisy and deception—especially with the tongue.
a. It is very possible that Solomon intended for the last two verses of this chapter to be a continuation of the same theme.
b. In other words, Solomon would be applying the principle of “you reap what you sow” to the hypocrite and the deceiver.
c. They too shall reap what they sow.
2. Vs. 26 – Deceitful hatred will ultimately be exposed (showed before the whole congregation.)
a. You can’t get away with hypocrisy and deception forever.
b. Eventually the chickens come home to roost.
c. You reap what you sow.