Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 13:21
"Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity"
This is the Hebrew word raah, which means evil, distress, misery, injury, trouble. This word is the usual word for evil. It is the word for negative trouble that befalls a person because of their actions. Solomon reminds us that when you cheat or try and take shortcuts to your goals in life, you get a whole host of pursuing troubles.
It is not possible to escape this result. One can eliminate these troubles by not sinning. Everyone has troubles in their life but we often add to our troubles, problems, and difficulties through our own sin. If we want to live a less hassled and troubled life, then we need to sin less.
Let's get more specific. This means that we need to stop lying. It means that we need to stop cheating. It means we need to move away from lust, pornography, and adultery. It means that we need to stop cursing and swearing. It means that we need to put God back as first in our life. It means that we need to submit to our God-given authorities. So much of our troubles are created by our own actions and speech. This is what Solomon is trying to say.
If you want to be continually pursued by a whole truckload of problems you don't want, then by all means keep being selfish and violating God's plan for your life. I realize that it seems that you need to act the way you do in order to get what you want.
the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity:
This is the Hebrew word tob, which is good or good things. The contrast is that the sinner who goes outside of God's moral boundaries is chased by troubles and evil. The person who lives within the box of God's moral structure is chased and given good things. Which one do you want to have happen to you?
Now it is important to realize that prosperity does not necessarily mean money or wealth. There are nine relationships in life – think of them like nine farms or orchards which we are to grow. When the farm is producing and fruit is ripe, then that relationship is wonderful and a radical blessing to you. God rewards the people who stay within his boundary structure with abundance of good things in the various relationships of life. They are rewarded in their relationship with God, in their marriage, in their family, at work, in their community of faith, with friends, in the monetary arena, and also in the community they live in. All of these areas are the places where God can land blessings. Too many people have been looking only at the financial area as the place of blessing. It is possible to have little money but to be rich in blessings and rewards in the other relationships of life.
Solomon is pointing out that you get to choose which things chase you – troubles or rewards.