Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 15:29
"The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous"
This is the personal name for God that He revealed to Moses: Yahweh or the four letters yhwh. The use of the personal name for God suggests that Solomon is talking about relational proximity rather than actual distance.
It is not possible to be distant from the Omnipresent God. He is everywhere, watching everything. So Solomon must be referring to some other kind of distance. In the case of the wicked, it is that they have no relational connection with God, no sense of His presence, and no desire to have any relational connection with Him. They are completely absorbed with their selfishness.
This is the Hebrew word rachoq which means distant, far. It is interesting to note that wickedness is that which is beyond the boundaries of the Ten Commandments on a permanent or continual basis. And the wicked usually will keep moving further out in their actions. There are levels of sin past the basic violations. There are at least seven types of sexual sin that are worse than simple adultery. There are types of murder worse than manslaughter. There are different types of stealing. There are levels of rebellion past simple disobedience.
So when Solomon tells us that the wicked person is relationally far from the Lord, it is that their repentance has many layers of confession to push back through in order to relationally connect with the Lord. They have to agree with God that all of the levels of their sin and selfishness are wrong.
Resa is the Hebrew word that is used here. It means that which is beyond God's moral boundary structures. Mankind is the only one of God's creations on earth (besides the angels) that can rebel from its God-given boundaries. And we have rebelled. The wicked move away from God in pursuit of their own selfish pleasure and desires. There are no moral boundaries for them in the pursuit of their goals. They do not realize that the price they will pay for their avarice is alienation from the Judge of all the earth.
There will be times when the wicked want God to be close and He will not be – during difficult times, when disaster strikes, when others have fled and they are alone.
The constant problem in training the young in resisting temptation is the wicked who seem like they are getting ahead. The ones who break the rules are prospering. Solomon is reminding us of the wicked person's huge deficit. They have no relational connection to God. Their interactions in prayer are perfunctory, never real communication.
Sama is the Hebrew word used here for hear, listen to, obey. Solomon is saying that the power of prayer and relational connection to the Lord is one of the main benefits of being righteous. Clearly it is not that God turns off the volume of the wicked person when they pray. It is that there is no inclination to act on God's part when the wicked pray. Their prayers are just one more selfish desire – this time directed at God.
Prayer actually changes things and having the Lord pay attention to our prayers is no small thing. God is willing to act into your world and your life. This is a huge privilege. We often do not take full advantage of this. We ask God for selfish things that He cannot give us, or we do not talk with Him enough about our life and its possibilities.
This is the Hebrew word tepilla which means prayer. Requests directed toward God is the technical meaning, but prayer includes all communication directed at God and not just requests. God hears or pays attention to those that come from people who resist the temptation to break His rules and do whatever it takes to get what they want.
This is the Hebrew word tsadeek which means a just or lawful man. The idea in the Old Testament is that a person who was righteous was one who lived within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. This is in contrast to the wicked person who lives outside of the Ten Commandments and makes no attempt to live within the moral boundaries prescribed there. The righteous in the Old Testament sense was a person who did not continually do gross sin; and if they did sin, they would go to the priest and offer sacrifices. The idea of “righteous” did not mean perfect in the sight of God which the righteousness of Christ provides. Solomon is saying that the person who is living within the boundaries of love which are prescribed in the Ten Commandments is righteous and their prayers are heard.