Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 29:16
"When the wicked increase, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall"
This is the word resa, which means wrong, wicked, guilty. What is important to realize is that these quantifiable words are measured against God's standard as set down in the Ten Commandments. These are not socially adjustable lines. God has said that selfishness must stop at a certain point. If it does not stop, then the selfishness will push to a point at which those closest to you are harmed, the society itself is harmed, and you are personally harmed even though you wanted to do the thing in question.
The Old Testament definition of wickedness is one who lives outside of God's Ten Commandment boundaries. We, as a culture, tend to treat moral boundaries as emotional reactions to what we find unpleasant. This, however, is not the way that God sees the moral boundaries. He sees these boundaries as universals for the human species. They are the way that humans should behave. The problem is that we do not. God did not give us instincts that we must obey as tracks in an amusement park ride. He gave us the ability to choose to obey the right ethical rules that He laid out for our species. We, through this, could choose to love Him. Because we did not and now cannot keep His Law, He has made a way for us to be forgiven through the death of His own Son, Jesus the Christ.
When a person is referred to as wicked, it means that they consistently live beyond the boundaries of the Ten Commandments – violence, lying, unfaithfulness, stealing, cursing, rebellion, etc.
What Solomon is saying is that when there is an increase in people who purposely and openly live beyond God's moral boundaries, there will be a necessary multiplying effect with transgression. This is what we are seeing in our day with the increase in kidnapping, sexual assault, murders, corruption, etc. There is a higher number of those who live without moral boundaries. Each wicked person commits multiple transgressions on a regular basis. This is why transgression rises significantly with each wicked person.
This is the Hebrew word raba, which means to be great or many. There is a question as to whether Solomon is talking about making heroes of those who are wicked, or whether it is just the number of wicked that is in view. Unfortunately we have both orientations taking place in our culture at present. People who are sexually deviant, people who lie, people who are violent to others are being hailed as famous and great; and we are seeing a huge increase in the number of people who are living beyond God's moral boundaries.
This is the Hebrew word pasa, which means rebel, transgression. In this context it seems best to understand this word as meaning an individual sin or trespass of God's law. Therefore what is being said is that when there are more people who are living beyond God's moral boundaries, then there will be an increase in people who will commit a sin and then get back inside the lines. People will say that they are not as bad as the Mafia person or the corrupt businessman or the cheating wife or the foul-mouthed abusive football star. So they will justify their occasional transgression as okay.
This is the Hebrew word sedaqa, which means justice or righteousness. The idea that God is trying to cement in our minds is that increasing amounts of wickedness is not a normal phenomena in the universe, and it will not be tolerated. God sees an increase of wickedness as a disequilibrium, and He will allow and bring about events and consequences that will bring this abnormal condition back into balance.
The person who stays within God's moral structures will see the person who profits, by taking moral shortcuts, fall. They may have a period of profits and high living in which it looks like they are getting ahead, but it is short-lived. Sooner than one would expect, those who live outside of God's law will be consumed by the life they live.
This is the Hebrew word mappela, which means a ruin. Those who take moral shortcuts to get power, fame, money, wealth, privilege, relationships, etc., will find that it will end in a ruinous heap. You look like you are getting ahead, but you are not really getting ahead.
Righteous living does pay. One may not have tons of perks, but one has a growing sense of self and confidence in God and the opportunities that God gives.