Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 11:21
"Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished, but the descendants of the righteous will be delivered"
At first the contrast that is mentioned here seems odd and misplaced. How do punishments and blessed descendants fit together? This is one of the understanding connections that Solomon does not want us to miss. Evil people will be punished in this life and/or in the life to come. This is an iron-clad connection. If one decides not to become immoral, then there are huge downstream benefits for our descendants. Solomon is helping us see that we don’t decide between the gain of immorality and the lack of righteousness, but rather the eventual punishment of the wicked and the blessed descendants of the righteous.
We are connected to our descendants. The choices that we make radically affect them whether we realize it or not. It is clear from history that when an individual decides to become immoral, he alters the choices that will be available for his children. It also increases the likelihood that they will choose the wrong path also. There is the classic illustration of descendants of Jonathan Edwards and an imprisoned thief alive in the same era. Jonathan Edwards produced, down through the generations, many righteous men and women who made a positive difference in their world. The thief produced a train of misery and human collateral down through the generations.
In one of the congregations that I served, one of the men who seemed righteous began embezzling from the church offerings. This allowed his family to live well above the standard of living that his job could provide. It took years, but eventually it was discovered and he went to prison. His daughter became a part of a greedy murder plot a decade later and is now in prison. Countless examples could be cited.
It is not just you that your choices are affecting. Your choices affect the spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and relational choices of your progeny. It is the height of arrogance to believe your selfish, sinful choices only affect you. This is the mistake Adam made, and we are all now suffering under his delusional thinking.
This is the Hebrew word ra, which means evil, distress, or bad. The idea is of malicious selfishness. When a person conspires to make another person lose so they can win, it is selfishness at a whole new level beyond just wanting yourself to win and doing everything in your power to make sure that it happens.
Evil is that which is beyond the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. Those behaviors – past no other gods, idols, swearing, no worship, rebellion, murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and scheming for another's goods – are malicious forms of selfishness that will take a great toll on those who pursue them and on the society around them.
Solomon is expecting that any forms of malicious selfishness will bring their own forms of punishment rather than blessings.
This is Hebrew word naqa, which means clear, innocent, free, cut off. The idea is one of innocence or unpunished future. The problem is that people who pursue evil see it as the shortcut to what they want. They bend the rules to gain what everyone wants, but they do not realize that they will not be innocent and without consequences in their life.
This is an interesting contrasting phrase because it promises benefit to the righteous man's descendants rather than predicting harm to them. The idea seems to be that one can expect that what you choose to do will have significant effect downstream. This is true whether your choices are maliciously selfish or not. I have heard countless stories of young women who watched their fathers look at the “Playboy” magazines admiringly and thought that this was their father’s ideal of feminine beauty and achievement. They then moved down the road of “sexy” girl hoping to impress their father. They did not understand why he was so upset and restrictive when they were just living out the ideal that he was adoring. His choices to allow pornography changed the course of his daughter’s life and untold heartaches with it.
The righteous person is the one who looks for God to get glory and for others to profit and themselves to gain all within the boundaries that God has laid down.
This is the Hebrew word malat, which means save, escape, be delivered. People who do not cut corners or become maliciously selfish to get what they want will escape from the problems and traps of life. They will escape many problems that cause many others to stumble.
Evil people’s greed for their own gain is what sucks them into a troubled spot. It sets up a series of consequences.
Are you facing the temptation to gain through cheating, lying, immorality, or violence? Don't do it. Punishment is assured and your choices now change the future for your children.