Proverbs 12:12

The Righteous Yield Fruit

12a The wicked desireth the net of evil men

A. The Net of Evil Men

1. A net is used to trap an animal… to “catch” something…

2. The net of evil men refers to the booty or goods that evil men are able to “catch” from unsuspecting men.

a. Solomon is talking about crooks… thieves… and their tactics.

b. They use deceit to trap their victims—like a net for a bird.

c. Solomon is talking about the age-old method of setting traps of deception to rob unsuspecting men and women.

3. Prov. 1:17-19 – those who are greedy of illegal gain set “traps” for people… to steal their goods.

a. An ambush of a stagecoach… or a chariot.

b. Thieves set up traps for people in airports too. (Two or three of them will wait for an unsuspecting woman to lay down her pocketbook, and then one bumps into her… and in the confusion, the other one takes the bag. They set a trap for her.

c. Shoplifters set traps for the clerks. One thief will get the clerk’s attention in a lonely corner of the store—so that his partner can help himself to the goods without being seen.

d. Muggers set a trap for people walking down a dark street at night.

e. These are evil men who “spread their net”… in order to “catch” someone off guard… that they might rob them.

f. Today these crooks have become quite sophisticated.
• We have white-collar “nets” in which thieves rob people of their retirement money—through deceit…
• There are countless scams devised by crooks today to get your money in their pockets.
• They use the telephone—and tell you that you have won a million dollars—and can collect it by simply mailing them $100.00 collection fee!
• They use the Internet to lure people all over the globe into their nets…
• Many prey on the elderly—win their confidence—and rob them blind!

4. Jer. 5:26-27 – The prophet describes the same “net.” Evil men use deceit to get the money and goods of other men into their houses.

5. Ps. 10:7-9-11 – the wicked set a net to catch the poor…

a. Their net is a net of deceit…

b. They catch the poor to keep them poor… to trap them in their poverty… and to take advantage of them…

6. These scams very often include risks…

a. If the scam artist gets caught, he could go to jail for years.

b. There is a fear of losing one’s reputation for the white-collar executive who gets arrested for laying his net…

c. There is great risk involved—but there is also great gain if not apprehended.

d. The case was similar when men used literal nets to catch their prey. They may set a trap for a lion. If the lion breaks out of the snare—you might be eaten alive!

e. But the reward was great. If you caught the lion—that was quite a valuable trophy!

f. The crooks who were willing to take the risk… sometimes were “rewarded” for their labors (in a twisted sort of way) in their risk taking. (At least that was the way the crooks looked at it.)

B. The Wicked Desire that Net

1. We have two groups of wicked men here.

a. The first group
• Called evil men
• They lay the net to ensnare others and rob them.
• They took the risk… and when successful ended up with much booty.

b. The second group
• Called the wicked
• These men observed what the evil men did—and covet the booty.

2. The wicked who DESIRE that net.

a. The term net is actually used here of that which the net pulls in or “catches.”

b. In other words, the wicked men observe the evil men lay their nets as traps… and see all the money they make… and all the riches they accumulate from their deceitful scam… and they COVET the gain!

c. They DESIRE the net… they wish they had the booty.

d. Evil men crave after illegal booty MORE than other goods—because evil is appealing to them! (Prov. 21:10)

e. Prov. 20:17 – that “bread of deceit” (stolen goods) are sweet—at first. Thieves love the rush they get from goods illegally gained. But that sweetness does not last.

f. Prov. 9:17-18 – stolen waters… but it is not eaten in good company. The end result is hardly something to be coveted!

g. The fallen heart has an attraction towards evil… but the wise believer will see evil for what it really is… and where it eventually leads! Don’t be deceived by the initial sweetness…

3. These wicked men who DESIRE the net (wish they had the booty) are just as evil as the men who laid the net.

a. But for one reason or another, they did NOT set a trap.

b. Perhaps they WISH they had thought of that scam…

c. Perhaps they really would like to extort money… or run a scam… but they are too afraid of getting caught…

d. They covet the profits from illegal activity—but for one reason or another are either too cowardly, too stupid, or lack the opportunity to engage in illegal activity.

4. There are young people on our streets selling drugs—and making a killing.

a. They spread a net for their victims—letting the young kids think that drugs are cool… or will make you popular.

b. In reality, drugs will make you a criminal, sickly, and poor… and eventually imprisoned. There is nothing cool about that.

c. But the pushers drive a BMW and wear fancy clothes.

d. They are risk-taking entrepreneurs in evil.

e. Then there are the other guys who envy them… who wish they could be like him… who wish they had a BMW and fancy clothes.

f. But they are too afraid of getting caught… or they don’t have the right connections to get involved…

g. They DESIRE the net of evil…

5. These wicked men are just as wicked and evil as the evil men who LAY the trap!

a. Their hearts are no better.

b. They DESIRE the goods…

c. Hence, they are just as cold hearted toward the elderly they abuse… or towards the young people they deceive into thinking that drugs are cool… or the poor they take advantage of…

d. In fact, giving the right set of circumstances, this second group would BECOME part of the first group!

e. Prov. 1:10-14 – the actual criminals will eventually LURE wanna be criminals INTO their lifestyle.
• Those who wanna be—usually end up getting involved in that which they desire.
• If you covet after something—eventually you will follow those desires… and act on them.

f. Prov. 1:15 – good advice: stay away! Don’t covet. Keep your heart with all diligence.
• Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
• Especially if your neighbor is a crook!
• Don’t desire his net—or the goodies in it.

12b But the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit

1. Here Solomon contrasts the wicked and evil men to the righteous man.

2. The contrast is primarily between the fact that the wicked TAKE, but the righteous PRODUCE. The wicked is a minus, the righteous a plus!

a. The wicked set a net to trap… plunder… rob… steal… take away.

b. The righteous, on the other hand, YIELDS fruit…

3. The righteous man is a ROOT… stable… dug in deep… unmovable. (Prov. 10:30 – shall never be moved)

a. Isa. 27:6 – God shall one day cause Israel to take ROOT in the land—and become fruitful.
• It is in this sense that Solomon uses the terms.
• The righteous man is a root; he shall take root; and produce fruit.
• Isa. 37:31 – see the relationship again between root and fruit.
• A plant with a good root system WILL produce fruit. It is self-contained—unlike the wicked who does NOT produce what he needs. He robs. He is not self-sufficient.

b. The righteous shall flourish (11:28) and shall be a tree of life (11:30).

c. A root has access to a continual supply of nutrients to keep on producing fruit. (Not like a net—a one time trap)

d. This principle is true in the physical realm.
• The hard working man who follows the principles of righteousness found in the Scriptures will prosper… will have enough.
• The lazy man might go hungry—but the man who is diligent won’t.
• The man who does things right will do well in life… he will yield fruit.
• Because he does things right, he doesn’t have to worry about going to jail… about getting caught in some crooked scheme…
• The dishonest man usually gets caught and loses everything…he gains much in the short term through dishonesty—but when caught, loses it all. He takes four steps forward and nineteen back.

e. This principle is also true in the spiritual realm. (Ps. 1:3)
• This man is strong, stable, and unmovable spiritually—like a tree planted by the rivers of waters.
• He will keep on producing fruit, season after season.
• In the physical realm, righteousness does not always prosper. Sometimes righteous men suffer in this world.
• But in the spiritual realm, the righteous always produces fruit. (Heb. 13:15-16)

4. One man PRODUCES good things; the other man STEALS good things… or COVETS what other men have stolen.

a. Prov. 12:11 – here Solomon speaks about a righteous man as one who is hard working (tilling his land)—and thus is satisfied with the works of his hands.

b. This man’s hands are full of the fruit of his labor—and he is satisfied.

c. He has enough for himself—and enough to share.

d. The unrighteous man follows vanity—lazy—and has nothing. He is NOT fruitful.

e. This lazy kind of man will then look at other lazy men who may be wealthy through theft—and he will COVET what is in his net!

f. What a lousy way to live: lazy; having nothing; not able to give; and yet always wanting what others have; wanting even what the criminal has!

g. How much better to be like the righteous man—he works hard; tills his land; digs his roots in deeply; and produces fruit. This man’s life will be strong and stable.