Proverbs 13:21

Evil Pursues Sinners; Good to the Righteous


1. This proverb is yet another variation of the principle, “You reap what you sow.”

2. Like the many other variations, it adds its own unique shade of meaning.

3. This proverb (unlike many others) appears in a context. Vs. 21-25 for the most part speak of prosperity vs. poverty…

a. vs. 21 – doing well vs. doing poorly…

b. vs. 22 – leaving an inheritance…

c. vs. 23 – food stored vs. food destroyed…

d. vs. 24 – training a child to be hard working and prosperous

e. vs. 25 – eating and being satisfied vs. lacking…

4. It should be pointed out that what Solomon records in this proverb is GENERALLY true… but keep in mind it is a proverb.

a. There are exceptions to this rule…
• When viewed from the earthly perspective. Perhaps MANY exceptions.
• From heaven’s perspective, this principle is always true.
• But Solomon was writing from an earthly perspective… gems of wisdom to be applied to life down here on earth.

b. It was not intended to cover every possible situation…

c. Like the Red Sox, it doesn’t cover every base.

d. I’m sure we could all think of many exceptions… perhaps in our own lives.

e. Nonetheless, it is also clear that this is a TRUTH… and generally, this is what comes to pass most often.

21a Evil Pursueth Sinners

1. Evil: translated variously: evil; trouble; disaster; adversity; misfortune; misery; calamity; distress; injury; affliction.

2. Pursueth: chases; persecutes; runs after; follow after…

3. Solomon’s point: bad things are constantly happening to sinners.

a. Everywhere they go—calamity follows… tragedy strikes…

b. For the sinner—the man whose life is characterized by sin—there is no escaping calamity… trouble… misfortune…

c. Solomon depicts the sinner as a man who is running along his regular course of life… and someone is chasing him—someone called “tragedy”… trouble… calamity… distress…

d. The sinner can run as hard as he can to try to ditch his pursuer, but will never be able to do so.

e. Have you ever met a person like that? If there is trouble anywhere to be found, rest assured he’ll find it… or it will find him! Trouble seeks him out!

f. Trouble has locked its radar on this person and will follow him until it gets him!

g. One of the bad things that often happens to the lazy sinner (in this context) is hunger (vs.25).

4. Sometimes such a person develops a poor me attitude.

a. Poor me! Bad things always happen to me! Trouble and adversity seem to seek me out!

b. And when you look at his life, you might agree… the poor guy!

c. We’ve all seen people who seem to have to deal with an inordinate amount of trouble… (lose their job; house is repossessed; kids are in trouble; health is on the skids; they go through life putting out one fire after another…)

d. The point of this proverb is that SOMETIMES that kind of a life… a life full of trouble and tragedy… is self-induced.

e. In other words, the trouble follows them BECAUSE they are sinners… because of their sin…

5. Calamity is often the consequence of sinful behavior.

a. Those who think they are too cool to wear a helmet may end up with a head injury…

b. Those who think they can handle alcohol bring an endless series of tragedies into their lives…

c. Sinners often stir up trouble as they go too… because they don’t control their tongue… or their temper…

d. Because of their sinful words and actions, they are often pursued
• by people they provoked to anger and now hate them.
• pursued by people who are mad enough to take them to court…
• or perhaps people who want to harm them physically
• perhaps they are now pursued by the IRS or the police because of their sinful actions…

e. Sinful behavior can RUIN our lives… and the lives of those around us. There are consequences to sin.

f. Sinners bring trouble on themselves.
• Prov. 11:17 – he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh (Joseph’s brothers who were so cruel to him were troubled the rest of their lives!)
• Prov. 11:29 – troubling one’s own household.

1. How? Greed, selfishness; immorality; anger; lack of self control.

2. Cruelty is another way! Be mean spirited to your spouse… to your kids… to your parents… and you are troubling your own house!

3. If that’s the way you live at home, then expect trouble to pursue you… till it gets you! And it WILL catch up to you eventually.
• Psalm 140:11 – trouble HUNTS for the violent man.
• Sinful behavior brings trouble upon us… you reap what you sow…

5. BUT beware of judging others on the basis of circumstances!

a. Don’t be like Job’s miserable so called friends!

b. The principle in Prov. 13:21 is a proverb. It does NOT cover every possible situation.

c. There are many times when we could easily misuse this principle—as Job’s friends did.

d. Job 4:7-8 – the misreading of circumstances by Eliphaz. This man was dead wrong. His theory just did not fit the facts here.
• By this principle we would have to conclude that Job’s sufferings and afflictions were because of his sin.
• We would have to conclude the same thing for Joseph; Daniel; Paul; and others… including Jesus Himself!
• BUT—the Bible tells us just the opposite. These godly men were not suffering because of their sin… but because of their righteousness!

e. When we see a brother who faces one trial after another, it is NOT a good idea to follow the example of Eliphaz and Job’s other “friends.” They were miserable comforters.

f. Acts 28:3-4 it is superstitious to think that way. The barbarous pagans on the isle of Melita thought Paul must have been a criminal—because calamity appeared to strike.

g. The truth is, we can’t know WHY a person faces many trials. In Job’s case, we know…

h. The purpose of the proverb is not for us to judge others—but perhaps to judge ourselves.

i. If we seem to face one trial after another… one calamity after another… that is good cause to slow down and examine our hearts honestly before God.

j. Now, the proverb stands as a TRUTH. Evil does pursue sinners… but be careful in applying that proverb.

21b But to the righteous, good shall be repaid.

1. The righteous – righteous; lawful; just in his cause;

a. In Proverbs, the righteous are the just; those who do things right; those who are hard working; faithful; good, obedient, law abiding citizens.

b. They do things the right way—and are repaid for doing so.

2. Good – good; agreeable; pleasant; gladness; benefit; prosperity; bounty.

3. Repaid – recompense; restitution; pay back.

4. This is the flip side of the first part of the proverb: evil pursues the sinner… good pursues the man who does things right.

a. Cf. Prov. 11:31 – God repays good for good…

b. The repayment for good may not come immediately… but it WILL come. Consider the end of Job.

c. For the Christian, it may not even come in this lifetime… but it will come—at the Bema seat…

d. And the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.

e. Isa. 3:10 – in God’s time and in God’s unique way for each dispensation, ultimately, this principle will be seen to be true…

f. Prov. 3:2 – For length of days, and long? life, and peace, shall they add to thee.

g. Prov. 10:6 – Blessings are upon the head of the just…

h. Psalm 23:6 – Here the psalmist says, “surely goodness and mercy shall FOLLOW me all the days of my life.”
• The word for follow is the same word that is translated “pursueth” in Prov. 13:21.
• Just as evil chases down and pursues sinners, so goodness and mercy chases down and pursues the godly… the sheep following the Shepherd…
• And this will pursue them all the days of their earthly lives.