Proverbs 13:17

A Wicked Messenger and a Faithful Ambassador

17a A wicked messenger falleth into mischief…

A. The Wicked Messenger

1. Wicked: criminal; guilty; guilty of sin or guilty of a crime…

2. Messenger:

a. Translated angel 111 times; messenger 98 times

b. It refers to a messenger, representative, or ambassador… one who informs or announces… or proclaims.

c. It is used of both men and angels—of men in this proverb.

d. In ancient times (before telephones, email, and cell phones), messengers played a much more important role.

e. Because virtually everyone has a cell phone, we have instant access to almost anyone on the planet—24-7! But obviously, that was not always the case.

f. We even have instant messenger on the Internet—so that we can instantly communicate with MANY people at the same time…

g. In ancient times, messages often took a long time to reach their destination… weeks… months… even years… as long as it took for the camel to get there—or the pony express.

h. Messengers were sent with valuable information… and information can be critical—for businesses, for countries at war, for interpersonal relationships, etc…

i. The application of this proverb probably takes on a little different shape in the modern world, but it is STILL a valuable principle—and still has many valid applications for us today.

3. The messenger is defined in the proverb in three ways:

a. The meaning of the term wicked (crime…)

b. The mischief into which he falls…

c. He is seen as the opposite of the faithful messenger… hence, he is unfaithful.

4. This messenger is wicked…

a. He is sent on a mission… but some sort of wickedness arises…

b. The wickedness arises because of his CHARACTER.

c. This proverb is really about a man’s character… and hence, the real heart of the principle is just as valid today as ever—though the area of application may change a bit.

d. This messenger is wicked, falls into mischief, and is unfaithful, not because of circumstances, but because of his character… because of the kind of man he is.

e. Solomon is warning us in this proverb about different KINDS of men… different characters…

f. The proverb is about betrayed trust… a man trusted to deliver a message and falls into mischief along the way.

g. The application today could be made to anyone HIRED to do a job… to perform a service… to deliver goods… to represent a firm, a country, or a church… anyone who is trusted with a job to do…

h. When appointing a man to a position of trust CHARACTER counts!
• We used to hear during the presidency of President Clinton that character didn’t matter… as long as the job gets done.
• Solomon implies here that it DOES matter.
• Solomon implies that the quality of a man’s character affects the quality of job…

5. The wicked messenger falls into mischief…

b. Mischief: evil; distress; misery; injury; calamity; pertaining to that which is not morally pure.
• This is a broad term which encompasses all kinds of trouble… hurt… calamity… immorality… sin.

c. Falls: Dict. Of Biblical Languages: fall, i.e., have an object go from a higher position to a lower position, often with the implication of being out of control in relation to the situation.
• The wicked messenger was put into a pretty high position—a position of trust… by whoever sent him…hired him…
• But he fell from that position to a lower position…
• This implies that the fall was self inflicted and by design… not an accident.
• Falling into mischief isn’t like catching a cold. It involves the will… especially when Solomon describes the character of this man as “wicked.”

6. Possible WAYS in which he falls into mischief…

a. Perhaps he is to deliver some goods—and steals some of those goods.

b. Perhaps the hired messenger proves to be a sluggard. (Prov. 10:26)
• Here Solomon states that he is an irritation to the one who sent him… or hired him.
• If a person is hired to do a job and never seems to get around to doing his duties, it irritates like vinegar on teeth or smoke in the eyes.
• Who wants a messenger who causes irritation rather than helps?
• When the president sends an ambassador to Iraq to help stabilize the region and provide security for our troops, I want him doing his job. Don’t you?!!
• When the Sunday school superintendent assigns a class to a teacher, he expects the teacher to do his/her duty and study the word… pray… and show up on time prepared to perform the ministry assigned!
• When people sign up to bring a dish to a church function and don’t bring what they signed up for—it is an irritation to those in charge.
• When an employee is hired to deliver the company’s mail and packages, and out of laziness, they are continually late, it is an irritation.
• When a job is to be done—and the wicked messenger doesn’t do his job—no one is pleased.

d. Prov. 25:19 – confidence in an unfaithful man is like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint.
• A broken tooth—try biting into a piece of meat with a broken tooth… it HURTS!
• Try taking a step on a foot that is out of joint—it HURTS!
• Don’t BE that kind of person… don’t HIRE that kind of person… don’t place your TRUST that kind of person… that is the reason for the warning here.

e. There are lots of possible scenarios in which a messenger / worker could commit a crime or sin… or make mischief.
• Perhaps he is to deliver a private message and does not keep it private…
• Perhaps he to deliver a message for the government, but works for a foreign government as a spy…
• Perhaps he is hired to deliver goods for a company, and instead tosses them in the dumpster…
• A new employee is hired and all he does is stir up trouble.
• A new deacon, or Sunday school superintendent, or pastor is put into a position… and instead of carrying out their ministry, they fall into mischief… create problems and controversy…

7. The warning: if you hire a wicked messenger or worker… if you entrust a responsibility into the hands of an unreliable man… if you are counting on a man with a flawed character to deliver a message or perform a service, expect trouble! Count on it! Wicked messengers fall into mischief.

17b But a faithful ambassador is health.

1. In contrast to the wicked messenger is the FAITHFUL man…

a. Here the opposite of wicked is faithful…

b. Faithful = trustworthy; reliable.

2. Ambassador: messenger; envoy; one who represents another…

a. The ambassador is a synonym for messenger in the first part of the verse.

b. The contrast is not between their function, but rather between their character… wicked vs. faithful.

3. The faithful ambassador (one sent on a mission or with a message) is HEALTH…

a. This health stands in contrast to the mischief of the unfaithful, wicked messenger.

b. Health: health; profit; sound (of mind); peaceful state; formally, time of healing,

c. Solomon states here that the faithful ambassador—the one who is sent with a job to do and DOES it faithfully is HEALTH to those who sent him!

d. The sluggard sent on a mission is not health or healing to those who sent him. He is like smoke in the eyes.

e. But the faithful ambassador is like a balm of Gilead… soothing… healing… the one who sent that man can REST, knowing the job will be done and done well… he doesn’t have to worry about it!

f. Are YOU that kind of person?
• When you are given a task at work, does your boss have to bite his nails wondering whether you will get it done?
• When you are assigned a ministry in the local church, is the leadership able to rest, knowing that the job will be done and done well?
• When you are given a responsibility—at home, school, office, the local church—do you bring health and rest to others, or does your irresponsibility cause irritation?
• The faithful ambassador does his job and puts the minds of those who sent him at rest.
• BE that kind of worker!

g. Prov. 25:13 – the faithful ambassador refreshes the soul of those relying on him!

4. What is it that brings HEALTH, peace, rest, and refreshment to those involved in a work? FAITHFULNESS!

a. I Cor. 4:2 – it is required in stewards of any sort, that a man be found faithful.
• Whether you are sent on a mission, sent with a message, sent as an ambassador, or appointed an assignment, faithfulness is required—and expected!
• Someone has well said: the most important ability is reliability!
• Skill, talent, ability, and brilliance are worthless if not accompanied by faithfulness!
• What good is a skillful surgeon if he decides to play golf the day you are scheduled for surgery?
• What good is an eloquent Sunday school teacher who doesn’t come to church?
• What good is any ability if it cannot be counted upon?

b. II Tim. 2:2 – Paul tells Timothy to pass the glorious gospel message and the whole counsel of God on to other men…
• But note that he does not tell him to pass it on to those who are intelligent and quick learners… or to those who are skilled orators… or to those with special powers of persuasion.
• The truth is to be passed on to FAITHFUL men… those who are reliable… those you can count on to do the job…

f. Prov. 20:6 – such men are hard to find… but worth their weight in gold when you do come across one.
• Ask anybody looking to hire people for their small business… reliable, good workers are hard to come by!
• Ask any pastor—reliable servants in the local church are worth their weight in gold…
• Ask the head nurse in the hospital… the foreman in the factory… a landlord… the owner of a restaurant… they will all tell you the same thing: reliable, faithful people are hard to come by!