Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 21:12
"The righteous one considers the house of the wicked, turning the wicked to ruin"
This is a very interesting proverb about the duty of righteous people within a society to help police the wicked in the society. Those who are righteous have a duty to think through how can wickedness be stopped, punished, or damaged. This is the opposite of the way people have been taught to think these days. They are taught that it is none of their business what wickedness their neighbor is doing. As long as it doesn't personally affect them, they should stay out of it. But this is not a wise or righteous position.
It takes a whole society to keep wickedness down to a manageable level. If you know that someone is abusing their children, you have a moral duty to bring that to light in some form. If you know that someone is embezzling or stealing, then there is a moral obligation to think through how that can be stopped. If the whole society were to engage in self-policing, then wickedness would be controlled. It is true that there will always be some level of wickedness because of the sinful world we live in, but it will not grow and claim more innocent people in a society that fulfills its righteous duty.
This is the Hebrew word sakal which means be wise, understanding, prudent, strategize. This word has a variety of meanings which involve mental contemplation. Solomon here states that it is part of a wise man's duty in the society that they live in to think about how to keep unrighteousness from growing. It is not just the police's job. It is not just the government's job; wickedness affects everyone.
This is the lesson that our modern society does not seem to grasp. When someone chooses to live beyond the boundaries of God's Ten Commandments, then innocent people will suffer and the further out they go, the more different people will suffer. The more lying that is permitted in society, the more harm; the more unfaithfulness to marriage, the more abuse and emotional wreckage in society; the more cursing, swearing, and abusive language, the more mental, emotional, and spiritual scars will appear in the society; the more violence that is allowed, the more victims of violence will be created; the more coveting that is promoted and encouraged, the more divorce, stealing, emotional damage, cutthroat business deals will become the norm for a society. We are already living in the cesspool of wickedness because no one wants to admit that we have violated God's standards and are paying a price amongst the most vulnerable portions of our society: the young, the old, the poor, the disabled, etc.
Now it is important that Solomon does not say that the righteous turns the wicked in. He says that the righteous understands or strategizes how to stop the wicked or bring them to ruin. It may not be possible in a given society to turn the wicked over to the government. The righteous person spends some time thinking through how to preserve the broader society through the downfall of the wicked. Now this does not involve becoming wicked yourself to do this. Vigilantism is not what Solomon is talking about. But making justice heard and wrong being exposed is what he is talking about.