A Broad Brush Distinction between Evil and Righteous Men
1. There are consequences to the lifestyle a person chooses to live.
2. Here Solomon speaks in broad terms about the distinction between the consequences of living an evil lifestyle vs. the consequences of living a righteous lifestyle.
3. This is not technically one of the many “better than” Proverbs because it doesn’t contain the words “better than.”
4. However, it is essentially the same. One of these lifestyles is better than the other.
1. The first part of this proverb speaks about the transgression of an evil man.
a. The term used for evil here has at least 10 different shades of meaning, depending upon the context.
b. Evil in this passage is defined as: That which is not morally pure or good; unethical; unrighteous; immoral; morally repulsive.
c. Thus, the evil man is one whose life is characterized by immoral and/or unethical behavior; an unholy and unrighteous lifestyle.
2. The transgression of an evil man is simply one example of his evil lifestyle.
a. Transgression is defined as: Rebellion; revolt; defiance against an authority; crime; sin; contrary to the proper standard. The emphasis is on rebellion.
b. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary separated the usage of this term in the Old Testament into various sections:
• Transgression against an individual.
• Transgression against a nation.
• Transgression against God.
c. Solomon does not indicate which area of rebellion he had in mind. Evidently, it was left open ended intentionally so that the proverb might have a much broader application to include ANY form of rebellion and transgression committed by an evil man.
3. Evil men transgress against individuals.
a. In other words, sinners sin against other sinners.
b. Sinners transgress against saints.
c. And though it should never be, sometimes the saints sin against the unsaved.
d. And also unfortunately, sometimes the saints sin against other saints.
e. It’s human nature for humans to transgress against each other.
f. There are over 7 billion people in the world; and (no surprise here) they DO transgress against each other. Watch the six o’clock news. Read a history book. It happens.
g. According to the Old Testament Mosaic Law, there were special “trespass” offerings required when a Jew transgressed against his Jewish brother.
h. Trespasses against man and their offerings in Leviticus 6 –
• The word “trespass” here means “guilt.” They are sometimes referred to as “guilt offerings.”
• In the trespass offering, the idea of sin as a “debt” comes to the forefront.
• The trespass offering deals with sin also, but not simply in its general evil character, rather in its being injurious either to God or to people.
• Another aspect of the trespass offering that made it unique is the fact that it seemed to carry with it a sense of restitution for injury done. Thus, some trespass offerings included the animal sacrifice PLUS money paid to the injured party.
• 6:1-3 – The sin – In this example, Moses cites several possible cases where a man directly sins against his neighbor
» He lies to his neighbor about something he was supposed to keep or watch. (Watch my camel while I’m away on business… and something happens to the camel)
» Or in “fellowship.” (joint custody of a property; a deposit)
» Or something taken away by violence.
» Or he found something his neighbor lost and then lies about it. (vs.3)
• But notice here that while the sin is against his neighbor, it is in reality “a trespass against the LORD.” (vs.2)
» All sin is against God ultimately.
» It is a violation of God’s law.
» To violate another human being is to violate one of God’s creatures made in His image.
» That is a violation against the Creator.
» II Sam. 12:13 – when David was confronted by Nathan about his sin of adultery against Bathsheba and his sin of murder against Uriah, David confessed and said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
» Ps. 51:4 – In this psalm David confesses that same double sin against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, and says, “Against thee, thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight…”
• 6:4-5 – Restitution
» He is required to restore whatever he took
» On top of that he is to pay back an additional 20% (1/5).
» God made it very EXPENSIVE to sin against one’s neighbor.
» This serves as a good lesson to us: there are and ought to be consequences for bad behavior.
4. Evil men transgress against a nation.
a. The major portion of the Mosaic Law dealt with violation of civil laws – which were in effect, crimes against the nation.
b. These consequences included the death penalty.
c. There are consequences to the lifestyle of evil men.
5. Evil men transgress against God.
a. Lev. 5:15b – Here Moses describes a trespass against “the holy things of the Lord.”
b. This is a violation of the Law of Moses… and was a trespass against the Lord Himself.
c. In fact, ALL sin is ultimately against God.
d. There were consequences:
e. Lev. 5:15c – The offering
• He shall bring a ram without blemish.
f. Vs. 16 – Making amends for the harm done to the holy things.
• Amends: Restitution
• So the blood of the offering was shed PLUS a monetary restitution was required.
• He added to the value of the harm done an additional one fifth.
• The restitution required here indicates that violation of the holy things HURTS God… it is injurious to Him.
6. Solomon lived under this Law.
a. He knew all about transgressions and their penalties.
b. He knew about the various trespass offerings – trespasses against a brother; against the nation; and against the Lord and the holy things of God.
c. Evil men in Israel sometimes rebelled against these Laws… and had penalties inflicted against them.
d. As Solomon wrote, “In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare.”
e. The snare includes the penalties under the Mosaic Law—and also (more applicable for us today) the natural consequences of rebellion.
f. Prov. 13:15 – “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.”
g. Yes, sin is appealing, but in the end it BITES! (Ex: wine: Prov. 23:31-32)
h. Prov. 5:22 – “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.”
7. “In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare.”
a. And this is the snare: His own sins “hold” him (seized; imprisoned; trapped).
b. His is a life that is hard; a life that bites; a life full of expensive penalties and difficulties.
c. It is a snare of his own making.
1. Here we have a stark contrast.
a. On the one hand we have the hard consequences of the transgressor… the rebel… he is pierced through with many sorrows.
b. On the other hand we have the consequences of a life lived in righteousness… in purity… obedience and submission to God and His Word.
c. And what is the natural outcome of a life lived in righteousness? Singing and rejoicing!
d. He doesn’t have to worry about the consequences of doing right.
e. Prov. 11:6 – “The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.”
2. In other words, the one who leads a righteous life can expect his life to be characterized by joy and singing…
a. This speaks of a heart that is guilt free… and a conscience that is clean and pure.
b. This speaks of a life not filled with worry and anxiety of being caught or penalized.
c. Ps. 97:11-12 – “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. 12Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”
d. Ps. 118:15 – “The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous.”
3. So which is better?
a. A life characterized by falling into snares and traps of our own making—or a life characterized by joy and singing?
b. The choice is easy when viewed from this perspective!