The Light of the Righteous
Introduction: Consider the contrasts in this proverb:
1. Righteous and the wicked
2. Light and lamp
3. One demonstrates joy… the other demonstrates sorrow.
4. One continues (to rejoice) the other cease… its light is extinguished.
1. The light and lamp are used as synonyms.
a. However, there DOES seem to be a distinction.
b. The righteous has light… the wicked has a lamp.
c. If a righteous man has light, it is implied that he also has a lamp. If he has light, then he has a lamp.
d. However, it is possible to have a lamp… but with no light. This is how the wicked is pictured here.
2. These are common illustrations in the Bible.
a. In different contexts light is sometimes used to illustrate different entities…
b. It is used as a symbol of life… the blessings of life… or one’s testimony… illumination… understanding, guidance, vision, discernment.
3. In this context, Solomon uses lamp/light as an illustration of the continuance of life… or the blessings that flow from a life that continues to shine.
a. Prov. 20:20 – his lamp shall be put out is a figure of speech to denote that his life shall be extinguished.
b. Prov. 24:20 – there is no reward for the wicked. When it comes time for rewards to be distributed, his candle shall be put out. (Candle here = same word as lamp; not a wax candle, but an oil lamp)
c. Job 18:5-6 – the light and spark of the wicked shall be extinguished.
d. Jude 1:13 – to the false teachers: to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
e. This is the sense in which Solomon uses the illustration in Prov. 13:9.
f. The life of the righteous shall continue to shine…radiantly… brilliantly… gloriously.
g. The life of the wicked shall be snuffed out early… and ignominiously… without honor… in shame… in darkness…
1. The righteous lead a life of joy.
a. It seems like an odd term to use in contrast to extinguish: rejoiceth.
• Lights don’t rejoice… they shine.
• This is obviously figurative language—but isn’t it telling… descriptive…
b. Can’t you picture a light rejoicing? There is something happy about light… and sad about darkness.
• There is a sense of joy that comes in watching the sun rise…light therapy… try going on top of a snow covered Mt. on a sunny day… don’t you feel that joy on a sunny day that is somewhat missing on a dull, dreary, gray, cloudy day?
• Everybody knows that you can set a mood with light… restaurants use light to set a mood… so do theatres… and other establishments.
• When a person is depressed they might seem to have a dark cloud hanging over their heads… and when they break out of the depression—it is as if the light finally begins to shine!
• Bright shining light is happy.
c. Understanding that the proverbs are written in a poetic style makes it perfectly understandable how Solomon could speak of a shining lamp as rejoicing.
2. In fact, this and other proverbs imply that it is his righteous life that is the BASIS of his rejoicing.
a. A righteous man rejoices because of his righteous life.
b. The wicked cannot experience the JOY of a righteous life. He doesn’t shine happily.
• The wicked is constantly looking over his shoulder to see if he is going to get caught for his wickedness.
• If he is cheating on his wife—he lives with that dark burden… of being found out…
• If he is cheating on his taxes—he lives under the dark cloud of being arrested… and fined… and shamed publicly.
• If he is lying, he lives under the dark cloud of being caught with that too…
• Sin does NOT produce happiness and joy. It produces death… and all the sorrow and suffering that goes along with it.
• Joy and sin don’t go together.
c. But a righteous life DOES lead to joy… promotes joy… yields joy
• The believer who walks in sin is hindering the ministry of the Holy Spirit… whose ministry it is to produce the fruit of love and joy in our hearts.
3. An “unrighteous life” produces guilt and misery.
a. Ps. 51:7-12 – Sin hinders that ministry… it restricts true joy.
b. David prayed for a restoration of the JOY of his salvation—a joy that was forfeited because of his sin… and his ongoing refusal to repent for upwards of a year after his sin with Bathsheba.
c. David recognized here that sin and guilt need to be cleansed away before that joy can be restored.
d. There needs to be a confession of our sin… and a genuine repentance… before we can once again experience that JOY.
e. David learned that the light of the righteous rejoices… but when that righteousness ceases, so does the JOY of one’s salvation.
f. David learned that sin could extinguish his happily shining light.
g. We need to learn that lesson too… hopefully not through experience, but from God’s word…
h. But unfortunately, we are prone to learn it from experience.
4. But a righteous life… one lived in the power of the Holy Spirit will always be full of the JOY of the Lord.
a. Joy is the FRUIT of a Spirit filled life.
b. It may be filled with trials—but there will always be divine joy in our hearts… even if it is a joy that seeketh me through pain…
c. The light of the righteous rejoiceth.
d. A righteous life is one with a purged conscience… cleansed and free from sin and guilt…
e. Free to feast on Christ and His Word unhindered… free to partake of the joy fellowship… free to experience the joy of being used of the Lord… joyous!
f. The light of the righteous rejoiceth!
• This is the kind of freedom, and unhindered joy that only those who walk closely to Christ can experience.
1. The final contrast in this proverb is between a light that happily rejoices… and (by implication) CONTINUES to go on happily rejoicing… vs. a lamp that is suddenly snuffed out… extinguished.
a. Solomon doesn’t actually SAY that the light of the righteous continues to shine… but the contrast with the second part of the verse makes it obvious that that is what he had in mind.
b. The life of a righteous man continues to shine brightly and happily… while the life of a wicked man is suddenly snuffed out.
2. The continuation of a lamp is used to distinguish between the righteous and the ungodly.
a. Matt. 25:1-13 – the lamps of the wise virgins continued to shine… while the lamps of the foolish went out.
• Why? Because the wise brought oil for their lamp. They not only had a lamp… but they also had a SOURCE of light… oil!
• Oil sometimes represents the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures.
• The wise virgins were prepared to meet the Lord and did so… their lamps continued to shine.
• The foolish virgins were not prepared. Their lamps had no ongoing source of light… and went out.
• The continuation of the light was used to describe the difference between the righteous and the unrighteous here.
• The godly in Israel would enter the Kingdom when Christ returns at His Second Coming, the others will not.
3. However, this illustration also creates some problems at times.
a. It doesn’t always seem TRUE!
b. Saints throughout the ages have always EXPECTED this to be true, but have not always OBSERVED it to be true.
c. Many saints have been discouraged because at times, it appears that just the opposite is true.
d. Too often it appears that the wicked seem to shine brightly in the world… they seem to prosper and do so well… and the righteous are the ones who seem to suffer… and have their light diminished.
e. This is what caused Asaph such bewilderment… (Ps. 73:2-12)
• It appeared to Asaph that HIS candle was going out (vs. 2,13-16)
• It also appeared to Asaph that the candle of the wicked seemed to shine brightly… their lives continued and seem to prosper and be happy (vs.5,12)
f. Asaph went into the sanctuary and learned to see life from God’s perspective. (vs.17)
• What did he learn?
• He learned that the ungodly seem to shine for a while.
• Consider the illustration of a lamp (not a candle as we know it today—an oil lamp)
• A lamp has a wick in it—and the wick is flammable. It will burn for a while… but only for a little while. If there is no oil—the wick will go up in a bright flash—and then die out.
• Asaph was discouraged because he was looking at the wicked—who seemed to SHINE.
• And they DO shine… but only for a short time… their lives are also like a vapor.
• They go out in a big bright flash… and disappear into everlasting darkness.
» Or to use a different illustration from James, which teaches the very same point: the ungodly are like the glory of a flower that blooms for a short time—and then the grace of the fashion of it perisheth…
• While the righteous shine (as Daniel puts it) as the brightness of the firmament… or as stars forever and ever! (Dan. 12:3)
• Or as Jesus put it, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. 13:43)
• Prov. 4:18-19 – the way of the righteous shines in increasing glory and brightness as time goes on. The way of the wicked grows increasingly dark… until their lamp is put out in the lake of fire forever.
• Don’t ever be jealous of the momentary flash the ungodly enjoy in the world.
• We will shine for ever with the Lord. Far better.
• There is an initial pleasure of sin…that the ungodly will enjoy… but it is short lived.
• That is the point of the proverb.
• The wicked are like a lamp with no oil—it has a wick that makes a big flash for a while—and is extinguished.
» The wicked lack the oil of salvation… the Holy Spirit. Their lamp must go out.
» To them is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
» The righteous go on shining as stars—forever and ever.
• Our light may be obscured by clouds for a time—but it continues to shine… and will for ever.
• When we look at this principle as Asaph did when his focus was earthbound—this principle does not always seem true.
• But from God’s eternal perspective—it is always so!