The Bloodthirsty, the Upright, and the Just
The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.
1. This proverb speaks of the two different ways that upright men are treated by two different kinds of men: the bloodthirsty and by the just.
The bloodthirsty hate the upright:
1. The bloodthirsty man
a. Bloodthirsty defined: The Hebrew expression is “man of blood.”
b. It speaks of a man given to blood; a violent man; a murderer; a man guilty of shedding blood.
c. God instituted a law to deal with men who shed blood: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Gen. 9:6)
d. The bloodthirsty speaks of a violent unsaved man.
e. He is not a follower of God, but of Satan, who was a murderer from the beginning.
2. The proverb speaks of a bloodthirsty man who HATES the upright.
a. Hate is defined as: To loathe; to be hostile; to have a feeling of open hostility and intense dislike.
b. This term for hatred often includes the idea of jealousy… which leads to hostile actions towards.
• Gen. 37:4 – When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father preferred him, they “hated” Joseph. This was a jealous kind of hatred.
• Gen. 37:18-20 – This hatred led them to become bloodthirsty men and they plotted to kill him.
3. Their hatred is against the UPRIGHT.
a. Upright defined: Straight; level; right; righteous.
b. It means straight in both a physical or ethical sense.
• I Sam. 6:12 – it is used of a straight road or path
• Isa. 40:3 – It is used of making a road “level.”
• Prov. 2:13 – Here a literally straight road is used in a figurative sense of an upright manner of life.
• I Kings 9:4 – Here it is used of a man’s character – upright and honest.
• Isa. 26:7 – It is even used as a name for God – the “Most Upright” One.
• Ex. 15:26 – It is used first here as that which is “right” in the eyes of God.
• I Kings 15:5 – “David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life…”
c. The upright person is who is right in God’s sight; his life is honest, righteous, on the level… not crooked or dishonest.
d. This is the kind of person that the bloodthirsty man hates.
e. The bloodthirsty man seeks the ruin of good, honest, upright men.
4. WHY would a violent, bloodthirsty man hate the upright?
a. Jealousy is probably involved.
b. The upright man makes the violent man look bad.
c. The upright man is the “goody two shoes” kind of person who others love to hate.
d. On the one hand he is jealous of this person and wishes he could be like that.
e. On the other hand he hates him… because the upright life makes his life of crime look even worse.
f. Just the presence of a good and upright man in the midst of violent and dishonest men is a silent witness against them.
g. Criminals and dishonest people hate those who are honest and upright. They love to see good men fall.
h. The media love to get a juicy story about someone who is honest and upright. They love stories about politicians and preachers who commit crimes.
i. John 3:19-21 – This is the same principle that John wrote about: darkness hates the light… because light exposes the evil deeds of darkness.
j. Upright men promote righteousness; they condemn the wickedness in the world and speak evil of its wicked ways. No wonder the one who walks in darkness hates the light.
k. Thus, violent men want to kill the upright.
l. I John 3:12 – Consider he example of Cain and Abel. Cain sought to kill Abel “because his deeds were evil and his brother’s were righteous.” There was jealousy, hatred, and violence involved.
m. Acts 7:51-52a – “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?”
• This was the case throughout the Old Testament history.
• Stephen spoke of this to the bloodthirsty men who stoned him to death.
n. Read Hebrew chapter 11 – it is an anthology of upright and godly martyrs who were slain by bloodthirsty men who hated their testimony.
But the just seek his soul.
1. The second part of this proverb is a bit problematic in that it is not entirely clear who the “his” refers to.
2. There are three different (sensible) ways it could be understood:
a. The just seek the soul of the bloodthirsty man—to convert him. (Matthew Henry)
b. The just seek the soul of the upright—to protect his soul, perhaps from the attacks of a bloodthirsty enemy.
c. A third view is that the passage is saying that the bloodthirsty man seeks the soul of the just (to kill). However, this view changes the subject and requires some juggling of the sentence order which makes it less likely what Solomon intended.
3. The simplest interpretation is usually the best.
a. The simplest is to understand the second part of the proverb is to follow the pattern of the first part.
b. In the first part of the proverb, Solomon describes the attitude of the bloodthirsty man towards the upright.
c. It is best to understand the second part of the proverb as a description (a contrast) to that… by describing the attitude of a just man towards the upright. He seeks his soul to help and protect his soul, or his life.
d. This keeps the same order and forms a contrast—as we have seen in so many proverbs. (Cf. vs. 8, 11 – both contrast two men – wise and a fool)
4. Bloodthirsty men may HATE good men (the upright) and seek to do them harm; but a just man will seek to protect the soul (life) of a good man.
a. Violent men seek to do violence (murder) against good men.
b. But righteous men will not seek to take their life, but rather, preserve and protect it.
c. The righteous man is the opposite of the violent man who seeks to kill. The upright man IS his brother’s keeper. He protects life—he doesn’t destroy life.
d. This interpretation makes the best sense: violent men hate good men and seek to take life in murder; but righteous men seek to preserve and protect life… from criminals and murderers.
e. To put it another way, bloodthirsty men seek to destroy life; but just men are PRO life. (Of course Solomon did not have the abortion issue in mind—but it is a perfectly legitimate application.)
5. To illustrate this principle, consider the following:
a. Saul sought to kill David, while Jonathan sought to protect David’s life from his father.
b. Bloodthirsty Herod sought to kill Peter; while the church protected him by meeting for prayer.
c. The Jews sought to kill the apostle Paul; but Pricilla and Aquila were ready to “lay down their own necks for his life.” (Acts 23:12; cf. Rom. 16:3-4)
d. Long before the abortion issue (pro-choice vs. pro-life) was ever conceived, the Bible has always been pro-life.
e. God is the Author of life. We should value life.