- Dr. Stieglitz
Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 14:11
"The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish."
This proverb is important to realize its truth because at times it can seem like the opposite is the truth. It can seem – especially to the young and because of the pressure of the media – that it is the wicked that is flourishing, while the righteous is having the boring, if not diminished, time.
Solomon is saying that the place where the righteous person dwells is secure and has the chance for consistent growth without the destructive shockwaves that keep ramming into the wicked.
Unfortunately, in this culture, it is the wicked that is portrayed as having all the fun and doing all the flourishing. This is so untrue and a very inaccurate portrayal. The wicked person does party and enjoy their sin, but they also invite the infections of guilt and alienation from people that are important to them: increasing government scrutiny, arrogance, disease, etc. Remember that the wicked is the definition for a person who lives beyond the Ten Commandments. Biblically a person is not wicked if they break one of the Ten Commandments and then get back inside its protective boundaries. A wicked person is the person who says, “I will not respect God's rules and I will live as I want – I will commit adultery; I will steal if I want to; I will swear, curse, blaspheme; I will worship other gods; I will lie whenever it suits me; I will use anger and violence to get my way; I will make plans for and fantasize about taking the goods, people, and services that belong to other people.” This is what it means to be wicked.
Solomon accurately observes that this kind of person looks like they are taking a shortcut to the good life, but the place they occupy is destroyed. They don't have what they gain very long or very securely. It is not the wise investment to try and gain in this direction. But there will be people that you will know who will go this way. It is especially important for teens and those in their early twenties to realize that it may look like those who chose the wicked road are getting ahead. They have more money than you. They have more stuff than you have as you labor with school, a lower-paying job, rules from parents, etc. But it is the way of the righteous that is building a secure garden that will flourish and keep putting out sweet fruit for a long time without guilt, intimidation, or alienation. Working hard and doing things the right way pays off. One needs to be innovative, wise, and growing but righteousness pays off.
Grabbing for the quick relationships, the quick money, the quick power through wickedness is not the right play. It is a bad investment because it doesn't pay out in the long run. It only momentarily looks like it gets you ahead.
Notice that Solomon puts the focus on the house of the wicked and the tent of the righteous. The word house is the Hebrew word bethel which means place of bread, place of residence, your home, where your family is, etc. The word tent is the word ohel which means tabernacle, a place where animal skins created a dwelling for nomadic people. It was used of David's palace. So it is not to be thought of as more temporary as a house. It seems to be just a synonym for where a person puts their family and puts down roots. And God had Solomon choose these two different words in order to make the contrast between the safety and security of the different moral orientations distinct.
Do not be tempted by the temporary gains of wickedness or its suggestion that it is getting ahead. Do not believe the movies – the hype from Hollywood that the stars can flaunt God's rules and be better off. They are not. Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he reap. Wickedness brings destruction. Be righteous. It pays off.
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