Upright vs. Perverse
1. This proverb presents a principle that we have seen many times in this book – with a slightly different wording and emphasis each time.
2. Obviously it is a truth that God wants to drive home deeply into our psyches… so that we don’t forget… and so that we don’t fall.
3. This proverb is a warning about falling and how to avoid a fall.
Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved
A. Walking Uprightly
1. Walking speaks of a lifestyle.
a. It looks at life as going on a journey… going for a long walk and encountering various experiences along the way.
b. This walk will bring you by pleasant meadows and it will bring you by dangerous rocky ridges.
c. As you walk through life, you may encounter sunshine, birds singing, and beautiful foliage.
d. On other days in your journey, you will encounter sore feet, steep cliffs to climb, and storms.
e. It includes the mountain top experiences as well as the deep, dark valleys.
f. This walk consists of many forks in the road and many twists and turns.
g. In other words, it speaks of life itself… and in particular the way we choose to live.
2. Walking uprightly speaks of RIGHT behavior along the way.
a. The term translated “upright” means blameless, without defect, unblemished, righteous, true, virtuous, and genuine.
b. Ps. 19:7 – The word of the Lord is “perfect” (same word).
c. Walking uprightly speaks of walking in harmony with the standard of righteousness, God’s Word.
d. It speaks of behavior that is right before the law of the land and right before God.
B. “Shall be saved”
a. Defined: Rescued; delivered; to be in a situation that is safe and free from danger.
• Used of being saved from hostile enemies. (Num. 10:9)
• It can also be used of salvation. (Isa. 45:22)
• It can either be a physical or a spiritual “deliverance.”
• The context must determine the exact meaning.
• In our Proverb, the term is seen as the opposite of “falling.”
• Keep in mind that for the most part, the book of Proverbs speaks about living life on earth. They are basic, practical principles for life, not the theology behind justification or redemption.
c. Clearly Solomon is not teaching salvation by works.
• That is contrary to scores of passages found throughout the Scriptures.
• He is not saying that “walking uprightly” (living a good life) will save you from sin and eternal condemnation.
2. Thus, the question arises: walking uprightly will save us, but from what will we be saved or delivered?
a. The context tells us that we will be saved from a FALL.
b. Before we look at the fall, let’s lock in the fact that the first part of the proverb teaches us that there is SAFETY in walking uprightly.
c. Walking uprightly along life’s pathway will keep us safe from many of the pitfalls into which others fall or are tripped up.
3. Consider other proverbs that deal with the same truth:
a. Prov. 1:33 – “But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” (Listening to Lady Wisdom will keep us safe—and walking uprightly.)
b. Prov. 3:21-23 – Listing to the wisdom of your parents will keep you safe and free from stumbling in life.
c. Prov. 28:26 – Later in this chapter we read about a deliverance that comes by not trusting in our own heart, but through walking wisely.
4. A life of uprightness and integrity will preserve us from trouble and calamity.
a. Daniel is a perfect example of this truth.
• Daniel lived a godly life and walked uprightly.
• And although he lived in a perverse environment, his integrity preserved him from falling.
• He lived a long, prosperous, and fruitful life in the midst of an environment that would have caused many men to fall.
• Daniel “walked uprightly and was saved” – delivered from many pitfalls and traps.
b. Prov. 2:6-7 – “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 7He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.” God is a buckler (shield; protector) to those who walk uprightly.
c. Prov. 11:3 – “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” Those who walk uprightly in integrity of heart shall be guided by the Lord. The implication is that they will be guided safely—as opposed to the destruction that comes to perverse (crooked) men.
d. Prov. 11:6 – “The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them.” Their righteous lifestyle is their protection.
e. Prov. 14:11 – “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.” His house shall flourish.
f. The upright man avoids sin and thus avoids the awful consequences of sin.
But he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.
A. He That Is Perverse
1. Perverse defined:
a. Morally crooked; twisted; distorted; a state that is not in accord with the standard.
b. We normally use the English term to describe a sexual pervert. The Hebrew term would certainly include that, but is much broader and includes all kinds of deviations from morality… not just sexually.
2. The one who is perverse in his ways stands in contrast in this proverb to the one who walks uprightly.
a. The one who walks uprightly is safe.
b. The one who is perverse in his ways shall fall.
c. We saw this contrast in Prov. 28:10 between the upright man who does good things… and the one who causes others to go astray who shall fall.
d. Good behavior leads to safety; bad behavior leads to a fall.
3. Those who are perverse in their ways exhibit this perverseness in various ways.
a. A man might be crooked in his business deals.
b. A man might be crooked in his speech – a liar.
c. A man might be crooked in his personal finances.
d. A man might be crooked in his relationship to the government.
B. “Shall fall at once”
1. “Fall”: This could refer to a physical fall; a moral fall; a financial fall; falling into trouble and calamity. There are many ways men can fall.
a. Prov. 17:20 – The man with a perverse tongue will eventually fall into mischief. Be sure your sin will find you out!
2. “At once” means at one time – emphasizing not so much the immediacy of it, but the certainty of it.
a. At one time or another, this man will fall.
b. The fall will come at once – suddenly.
c. He may get away with his crookedness for a while—and because of that assume that he will always be able to get away with it.
d. However, one day, quite suddenly, he will fall.
e. Even if he gets away with it in this life, eventually he will stand before God and if not saved, will experience the ultimate fall.
3. There is another intriguing interpretation of the second part of this proverb.
a. It is based on the meaning of the word “perverse.”
b. It views the man as being devious in his ways (plural). In other words, the man is crooked in that he seeks to walk TWO ways at once. This would speak of a deceiver who tries to live a double life.
c. The proverb states that the man who lives a double life will suddenly fall in ONE of those two ways. His deception will not go on forever.
4. But regardless of which view you take of the second part of the proverb, the meaning of the first part is unquestionable: the SAFE way to walk is uprightly… honestly… with integrity… righteously.
a. This man is safe. He will avoid many pitfalls in life.
b. But the one who deviates from an upright walk will surely fall.
c. He is not safe; he will not be delivered but will fall into trouble and calamity.