Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 24:16
"For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity"
Yes, bad things happen to good people. It is the consequence of living in a broken world. Sin has entered the world and things are not perfect. Therefore the righteous will have stuff they do not deserve knock them down. We live in a cause-and-effect world, but we often must look at the bigger picture to gain an understanding of why certain things happen.
Solomon states rather clearly in this proverb that you can be expected to suffer even if you are righteous. Disasters will happen to you – both natural and human. But the righteous person rises again and keeps moving forward because they know where they are going.
This is often a number meaning completeness or perfection. And it could mean, in this sense, that even the righteous are knocked down completely or, as we would say, wiped out. But they rise. Solomon seems to be saying that it is not the fact that disaster and ruin and problems knock a person down that distinguishes them, but instead it is whether they rise again.
This follows the idea in another proverb that the whirlwind comes and the wicked is no more. The wicked are all about quick and easy money. They are parasites preying on those who are actually making a living and building something.
This is the Hebrew word kasal, which means stumble or fall. It often is associated with our idea of being wiped out. It is not our idea of tripping but more of breaking both legs and being unable to get up.In this proverb the wicked stumble in times of calamity. They have not planned for the future; they do not have reserves; they are completely wiped out by the disasters that come their way.
What are we supposed to learn from this proverb? That it is not the amount of disaster in a person's life that tells us who is righteous and who is not but whether the person rises again or runs away.
In an interesting connection, the righteous has some way of processing pain and disaster and loss that the wicked does not. Jesus says that one of the characteristics of blessed people is their ability to process pain. If you stuff pain and refuse to face what happened or try and medicate it away through drugs, alcohol, risky living, pornography, food, shopping, etc., then you will not be able to rise again.
Realize that pain, loss, and difficulty will push into your life. You must come back from those things through friends, faith, hard work, preparation before, etc.
It is interesting that as a culture the western culture is becoming more obsessed with pleasure and profit now instead of working out the worst case scenarios that need to be prepared for and take years to be ready.