Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 11:18
"The wicked earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness gets a true reward"
The word wicked is the Hebrew word resa, which means one who will not conform to God's standards for conduct and covenant living. This is the person who decides to live beyond the boundaries of the Ten Commandments in biblical shorthand. They live in adultery, they lie regularly, they deceive, they steal, they scheme to take other people's goods and claim them, they blaspheme God, they gain through violence or the threat of violence. They do not just commit these actions, but they consistently do them and excuse their conduct. The wages of the wicked are the pleasures of selfishness: I want to get what I want and then I will be truly happy. It is true that the pursuit of selfish ends feels like the right thing, but it is accomplished on the backs of others and especially in the case of those who live outside the moral boundaries of the Ten Commandments which ends in relational alienation rather than connection. So they may gain the things they want but end in the relational disconnection that leaves their soul alone.
This is the Hebrew word seqer, which means lie, deceptive, deceive. The idea is that it is not what it seems. Solomon is saying that the gains that the wicked achieve through their moral shortcuts do not amount to what they hoped. They thought that the things would satisfy when they stepped on people and froze their hearts to the needs of others. Now they have the things – and maybe even a host of shallow people to go along with them – but they do not have real soul connection or, even in some cases, the ability to understand how shallow their own heart has become.
This is the Hebrew word zara, which means to scatter seed or sow. It is a farming term to mean spreading that which is good; hoping for a good harvest. In this case that which is sown is righteousness or covenant-keeping or love for God and love for neighbor. This person does the right things in small amounts. They really care for people and do not make a splashy show of it. It is the little caring and living within the boundaries that respects the other people that builds the basis for good relationships and a rich life.
This is the Hebrew words emet seker, which means true or real or "as advertised" wages or earnings. One is rewarded with real life and real things when they are gained through righteousness. It may be slower but it will be a bigger payday in the end. And, more importantly, the relationships will be real and the joys will not be masks for deep pain.