God’s Deliverance of the Righteous
Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: (vs.15)
A. THE FIRST COMMAND: Lay not in wait, o wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous:
1. Verse 15 is a warning to the wicked. The warning is twofold:
a. Don’t lay wait against the homes of the righteous.
b. Don’t spoil (rob) them.
2. The contrast here is between the wicked and the righteous.
a. Wicked: Guilty; criminal; one who violates a standard; lawbreaker.
b. Righteous: Just; righteous; correct; law abiding; innocent.
c. These are exact opposites.
d. There has always been conflict between these two groups… between the godly and the ungodly.
e. This is nothing more than old enmity in the seed of the serpent against the seed of the woman.
3. The wicked lie in wait for the righteous.
a. Lie in wait: To lie in wait; ambush; lurk; to lay in wait against; hide and attack to harm others; describes the activity of the wicked man as he lurks to oppress or destroy the afflicted.
b. This speaks of wicked men lurking in the shadows in order to pounce upon the righteous in order to do them harm.
c. The term is also used of animal predators lurking in the woods to ambush an unsuspecting prey… ready to pounce and devour.
4. They are seen as lying in wait against the dwelling of the righteous.
• Of flocks it is used of pastures or grazing meadows.
• I Chron. 17:17 – God said of David, “I took thee from the sheepcote…” (same word)
• Of humans it is used of their residence; abode, habitation; abiding place; the place a human lives, with a focus on the space as a place. (Not just the physical house, but the space where we live… our habitat.)
• Hos. 9:13 – “Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place.” (same word)
• Isa. 33:20 – “Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down.” (same word used)
5. This seems to imply MORE than that the wicked seek to ambush our homes.
a. It is broader than that. It indicates that the wicked seek to pounce upon us in our “quiet habitation”… “invade our “space”…
b. It seems to be figurative language describing the INTENTIONS of the wicked against the righteous—to pounce upon us and to do us harm by invading our space and disrupting our quiet habitation… and perhaps even our home and family.
c. It seems to portray an attack on our way of life.
d. They can become a threat to our peace of mind.
B. THE SECOND COMMAND: Spoil Not His Resting-place
a. Violently destroy; devastate; to utterly ruin.
b. Looting and plundering (often used of the military taking the “spoils” of the battle… looting the defeated foe).
c. Jer. 10:20 – It is used of the destruction of the Temple: “My tabernacle is spoiled.” (same word)
a. Resting or dwelling place; place of lying down.
b. Dwelling place; home; i.e., a space in which one normally lives, with a possible focus on this place as a resting-place.
c. This is basically a synonym for “dwelling” in the first part of the proverb. (It is a different Hebrew word, but the meaning is quite similar).
3. The second part of the proverb says basically the same thing, only it pictures the danger at the next level.
a. In the first part, the wicked warned not to “lie in wait” ready to pounce… ready to ambush.
b. In the second part, the wicked are warned not to actually pounce… not to destroy or devastate the righteous.
c. The warning is against looting, plundering, or bringing to utter ruin.
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. (vs.16)
1. Verse 16 stands all by itself in that it makes a valid point.
a. It is a proverb in its own right.
b. It could easily have been found in a previous section of this book which contained mostly freestanding proverbs… without any context.
2. And yet while it makes a statement all by itself, it is clearly connected to verse 15, as a couplet – like the rest of the “wise sayings” in this section of Proverbs.
a. FOR: This word indicates that verse 15 is a continuation of thought from the previous passage.
b. In this verse we see the same two groups: the just or righteous and the wicked. (same Hebrew word)
3. Verse 15 gives the wicked two commands.
a. However, while it is addressed to the wicked, most wicked men don’t read the Scriptures.
b. Most men, who have the inclination to do such things, don’t really care what God’s wisdom has to say.
c. If they were wise, they would read it and obey, but the wicked are not wise.
d. Hence, the primary audience here seems to be the righteous.
e. It is given as an encouragement to the righteous who live in a wicked world… and have to deal with the wicked and their evil intentions.
4. A just man may fall seven times and rises up again.
a. This statement is proverbial all by itself.
b. Righteous people do fall. (We can all attest to that.)
c. One scholar noted that this word for fall is not used of moral failure, but rather falling into unfavorable circumstances.
d. When the righteous fall into unfavorable circumstances, they rise up again. They don’t REMAIN down.
e. But here Solomon makes this statement in light of the previous situation: Wicked men lying in wait, ready to pounce and ready to spoil… to bring utter ruin.
f. The point seems to be that even if they DO pounce upon us and do us great harm, this is not the end of the righteous man.
g. The wicked may attack in countless ways and over a long period of time.
h. They may be successful at times in bringing devastation to our lives.
i. They may invade our space and disrupt our quiet habitation.
j. They may even KNOCK us down and cause us to fall… perhaps even SEVEN times. (Number of completeness… the fullness of his falls throughout his life… he may fall a good number of times… over and over…).
k. But they cannot KEEP us down.
l. The righteous man will keep on getting up and moving on.
m. Sometimes the Lord even uses persecution like this to separate the wheat from the tares.
n. It’s easy to claim to believe on Christ. But CONTUING in the faith is what demonstrates that our faith is deeper than just an intellectual acceptance of facts.
o. Matt. 13:20-21 – The seed sown on stony ground seems to rejoice in his faith for a while… until trials and persecution comes… until he faces the foe. When he is faced with adversity, he doesn’t get back up again. He’s gone.
p. God gives special grace and strength to His own to continue on in the things of the Lord—even after they have been knocked down.
q. Ps. 37:24 – “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”
r. The grace of God enables the believer to rise up above his circumstances… unfavorable as they may be, they don’t have to keep us down.
s. This was certainly true in Paul’s life:
• II Cor. 4:8 – “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”
5. This is a great encouragement to believers who face the wrath and cruelty of the wicked.
a. Do NOT assume that because they are successful on occasion that they are winning.
b. Do NOT assume that if they knock you down, you will not be able to be revived.
c. Even if we do fall, the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us…
d. His grace is sufficient for every situation.
e. His power is sufficient to enable to get back on our feet and to go forward.
6. This is also a stern warning to the wicked.
a. You too will fall.
b. Only notice that there is no mention here of the wicked getting back up again.
c. They fall… into mischief. (trouble; calamity)
d. When they fall, they do not have the Lord to pick them back up again. They are truly on their own.
e. Daniel 6 – Consider the story of the wicked men who were lying in wait and ready to pounce upon Daniel and reported him to the King for praying.
• They were ready to strike… to destroy him.
• Their plan caused the king to put Daniel in the lion’s den.
• But though Daniel found himself in most unfavorable circumstances, God delivered him.
• God stopped the mouths of the lions and Daniel rose up out of the lion’s den.
• But the wicked men who sought to pounce on Daniel and destroy him, were cast into the lion’s den… they fell, but they did not get up.
f. Thus, the point to the wicked is: it is futile for the wicked to threaten or harm the righteous. Because in the end, they will get back up again… and you will fall into calamity—and ultimately into divine judgment!
a. The wicked have evil intentions against the righteous. They lurk to do damage and sometimes cause devastation… in spite of God’s warnings.
b. But the righteous should not be overly concerned. God has not forsaken them. The righteous will be revived and restored.
c. But the wicked should not be overly confident, for they will fall into mischief. Period!