Proverbs 11:21

No Safety in Numbers

21a Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished:

1. Not all proverbs are true.

a. Virtually every country has a book of proverbs of one sort or another.

b. There are ancient Turkish proverbs, Chinese proverbs, etc.

c. Ben Franklin even wrote some proverbs.

d. While none of them are inspired, some of them DO quite accurately describe a particular truth.
• A penny saved is a penny earned.
• Like father, like son.
• A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

e. However, not all of those un-inspired proverbs are accurate. Some we have heard so often, we accept as truth—when it may NOT be true.

2. Here, Solomon puts down an ancient urban legend… a false proverb…

a. We have often heard, “There is strength and safety in numbers.”

b. Here the proverb read, “hand in hand”… or hand joined in hand…
• This is an unusual Hebrew idiom… which is interpreted and translated in several different but similar ways.
• The implication seems to be that when men hold hands and join together, they are strong and safe. Safety in numbers.

c. There is a certain amount of truth in that.

d. This truth is elaborated upon in Ecc. 4:9-12.
• 4:9 – The Bible does say that two are better than one…
• It is true in one sense that two hands are better than one…
• Many hands make light work…
• 4:10 – two are better if you fall down!
• 4:11 – two are better at generating heat
• 4:12 – there is strength in unity
• This is a general principle… a proverb.

3. In Prov. 11:21, Solomon singles out an exception to that principle or proverb, and demonstrates it to be a lie.

a. Normally, there IS safety in numbers. Normally two are better then one. Normally there is safety in numbers.
• All things being equal, one would expect the army with the most soldiers to win the battle!
• If both armies are equally well trained and equally well equipped and with equal leadership… one would expect that the army with 100,000 soldiers should easily defeat an army with only 2,000 soldiers.

b. There are times when there is NO safety in numbers!

c. “Though hand joined in hand” the wicked shall NOT be unpunished.

d. When it comes to wickedness, there is no safety in numbers. This is the exception to the rule!

e. Wicked men DO join hands in their plans to carry out their wickedness.
• Prov. 1:10-15 – Solomon warns of the allurement of a gang.
• There IS such a thing as a mob mentality.
• People will do in a crowd what they would NEVER do alone…
• WHY? We believe that there is safety in numbers. The sheer number of people involved will serve as a shield.
• Kids in a gang stir one another up to do evil—even murder… something they would probably never do on their own.
• In a riot, we see people breaking store windows and walking away with the loot. They would never do that all by themselves!
• In any group, there is mutual encouragement, mutual affirmation, prodding one another, daring one another, challenging one another, pushing one another to the edge, etc…
• One or two wild radicals in the group may push the whole group into action that they would never have thought of on their own…

f. There is a common thinking in men: if there are enough of us, we can get away with it! They can’t catch us all! They can’t arrest us all!

g. In a mob, or in great numbers, people get a sense of power… that they can do what they want and no one can stop them… “if hand join in hand.”

h. Many movements (good and bad) operate on that principle. There is strength and safety in numbers. Numbers empower.
• The principle of power in numbers has done a lot of good in some groups… civil rights… and other democratic and social reforms…
• But the same principle works within groups of wicked men with evil intent too.

4. The Bible has many illustrations of this principle operating among the wicked… that there is no safety in numbers for the wicked.

a. Gen. 6:5,11-12 – the whole world was in wickedness, but there was no safety in that! They were all destroyed!

b. Gen. 11:1-4 – the whole world once again joined hand to hand in their rebellion against God—but to no avail. The Lord judged them (vs. 8)

c. Just walk through the Bible book by book and you will come up with countless examples.

5. The wicked fail to acknowledge GOD!

a. The wicked might THINK that if they join hands they can get away with their wickedness.

b. And perhaps they CAN on earth… for a time… but nothing escapes the notice of the Almighty!

c. When hand joins hand against God, there is NO safety in numbers!

d. It matters not whether there is one speck of dust or a million specks of dust… man is nothing before the Lord. Even all the nations put together are nothing before Him! A drop in the bucket! (Isa. 40:15)

e. Psalm 2:1-4 – in the end times, the nations will join hand in hand and think to fight against the Lord Jesus at His Second Coming! God will laugh at their folly.

f. Wicked men THINK there is safety in numbers…

g. Perhaps you’ve even heard men say, “The gospel you preach can’t be true. There are so FEW born again believers and 6 billion people in the world. I’ll take my chances with the 6 billion rather than with you!”

h. There will be no safety on judgment day. MANY walk the broad way and they are ALL headed towards destruction. FEW are walking the straight and narrow. The MANY will find no safety in their numbers.

6. The wicked shall not be unpunished.

a. The MANY on the broad way will be punished.

b. Num. 16:2 – Korah and 250 princes gathered together—hand joined in hand in their rebellion.
• They assumed safety because there were so many important men involved.
• Vs. 3 – They rejected the authority of Moses and demanded to take authority upon themselves.
• Vs. 31-33 – Korah and his whole company—went down into the pit… hand joined to hand!
• Their numbers provided no safety in that day.

c. This is a good lesson for our young people.
• You too will be faced with peer pressure—from a group of kids trying to get you involved in something that you KNOW you shouldn’t do.
• They might tell you that you will be safe—that the gang or the group will shield you from getting caught…
• Don’t believe them. Don’t do anything in a group that you wouldn’t do by yourself!
• Don’t do anything in a group that wouldn’t be pleasing to the Lord.
• You don’t want the false kind of strength that comes from flesh trying to prop one another up. You want the kind of strength that comes from the Holy Spirit within!
• When you trust in the Lord, you will have the strength to say NO to the group… and to walk away.
• Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall NOT be unpunished!

21b But the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.

1. In contrast to the large numbers of wicked men joining hands… the remnant… the seed of the righteous… always a minority…

2. This minority shall be delivered!

3. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “You and God are a majority.”

a. I don’t know if you are a majority with God—but you CERTAINLY are more powerful and stronger than a crowd full of frail human flesh!

b. Little David with God was far stronger than Goliath and the Philistine army! Goliath was punished (decapitated!) and David was delivered.

4. II Chron. 20:1- Hand joined in hand against Jehoshaphat.

a. Ammonites, Moabites, and others joined hands against Jehoshaphat.

b. Vs. 3 – Jehoshaphat feared, but went to the Lord in prayer.

c. Vs. 6 – he recognized that true power does not come in raw numbers of men, but from a relationship to God!

d. Vs. 7 – the numbers of men ought to fear God!

e. Vs. 22 – the invaders were destroyed… and Jehoshaphat was delivered.

f. Though hand join in hand—the invaders did not go unpunished.

g. The seed of the righteous, Jehoshaphat, was delivered.

h. There are MANY such examples in the Scriptures… and history.

5. Applications to us today:

a. As fundamentalists, who seek a God-centered worship, we will always be in the minority.
• Hand will join in hand in the New Evangelical world… and seem to prosper.
• Rest assured, that ultimately they will not go unpunished. The Bema seat is coming.
• II Tim. 2:5 – “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.”
• The seed of the righteous—those who seek to honor God and do things RIGHT—regardless of the response from men—will be delivered.
• We will be vilified on earth—but vindicated at the Bema seat.
• So let’s just keep on doing things right… and don’t be concerned about the vast numbers in the evangelical world who join hand to hand… even in violating principles of Scripture.

b. When you are overpowered by men… outnumbered… and seemed overwhelmed in the world… or at your office or school… just remember what Jonathan said:
• I Sam. 14:6 – “It may be that the Lord will work for us; for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.”
• Judges 7 – remember what God said to Gideon – “you have too many men! (22,000) Pare it down to about 300!
• Rom. 8:31 – What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
• It doesn’t matter how many men oppose us; or how big they are; or how well equipped.
• Ultimately, wicked men will be punished; the righteous will be delivered! Wait on the Lord for Him to work.
• You and God overpower any enemy! Numbers are irrelevant to God.

c. In our uncertain times, it is easy to become paralyzed in fear over terrorism.
• All over the world, Muslims are joining hand in hand to destroy the big Satan… America and the little Satan, Israel.
• We can rest in this truth: though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished. They aren’t getting away with anything ultimately.
• And in the end, the righteous shall be delivered. We are on the winning side in Christ…
• Justice may come slowly, but it WILL come.