- The Certainty of Evil’s End and the Certainty of the Vindication of the Righteous (20-21 & 23)
- Physical Beauty Without Character is Contradictory (22)
- The Richness and Abundance of Giving (24-25)
People of God, there is coherence and harmony in Proverbs. They are not randomly written down. Solomon is giving instruction to his son on how to become a King. He is covering various angles, various possible temptations that may befall a king-to-be. And since repetition is the best teacher, Solomon is our great teacher . Solomon is, of course, reflecting the greater Solomon, Jesus Christ, who lived a life of wisdom in the presence of men. Ultimately, Proverbs is preparing us to be more like our Lord.
Part of maturing and becoming like our Lord demands understanding this fundamental principle made abundantly clear in Proverbs: You reap what you sow. The Apostle Paul captures this in Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
We continue where we left off last week, and we are going to see this principle again in our passage. Let me read a few verses that set forth this principle of sowing and reaping beginning in verse 20:
Those of crooked heart are an abomination to Yahweh,
but those of blameless ways are his delight.
Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished,
but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.
And verse 23:
The desire of the righteous ends only in good;
the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
We see here the Certainty of Evil’s End and the Certainty of the Vindication of the Righteous. In verse one, Yahweh said that a false balance was an abomination to him and in verse 20 he says a “perverse heart” is an abomination to Yahweh. It is something that provokes his disgust. If you want to know what God hates, Solomon tells us. If you want to know what makes God smile, Solomon tells us: blameless ways. This is how God refers to His people. He is not saying that He will only delight in you if you perform perfectly without flaw. If that were the case God would never delight in us, rather He delights in us when we walk faithfully. When our lives are in conformity with His desires and commands. But when does that happen? It happens each day you repent, each day you confess your faults before a Holy God, each day you treat your brothers and sisters with respect, each day you work hard, each day you speak words of encouragement, and each Lord’s Day you gather with His people.. The object of God’s love is the Christian who perseveres in grace through repentance. On the other hand, the object of God’s hatred is hypocrisy.
“Be assured,” “be certain” “be sure of this,” verse 21 says. The Hebrew root here is very interesting. “As hand joins hand to clap in affirming something,” so too will an evil person be punished. “If you think you can live life as you please without acknowledging God, you are profoundly mistaken.” Evil deeds will not go unpunished. There is an ultimate justice of God that will be felt by everyone who denies His name. Why? Because it is God’s nature to not overlook sin. It is God’s nature to not allow evil to succeed. And- by His grace—it is God’s nature to deliver us from our own sins and vindicate, justify, and affirm us at the end of history.
We see this in verse 23: “The desire of the righteous ends only in good;
the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
Here it is stated again emphasizing the human desire. What are your expectations? Do they reflect the character of God? What are your desires? Do they reflect the good, true, and beautiful? When you consider your neighbor, do you wish that he would get what he deserves? If you think that way you are thinking as a covenant-breaker. The desire of the righteous is transparently good. He knows the principle that you reap what you sow. You sow justice, you receive justice. If you express mercy you will receive mercy from God and your fellow man. On the other hand, Matthew Henry uses the analogy of wicked men fishing in troubled waters. They may catch a lot of fish, but when they eat what they have caught they will discover it to be putrid and poisonous. They will be caught and trapped by their own expectations. Evil’s end is certain and the vindication, justification of the righteous is also certain. This is not karma, this is God’s perfect justice.
But secondly, “physical beauty without character is contradictory.” Look at verse 22:
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.
You may ask yourself “what is this verse doing here in this passage? How does this fit into this context?” The point of this verse is to say that there is a contradiction in these descriptions. It doesn’t make sense. What doesn’t make sense? A beautiful ornament like a gold ring placed in a pig where it will be covered with mud. The wicked desires gold no matter how it is gotten. Solomon here is applying this to relationships. “Desiring gold without wisdom is like marrying a beautiful woman without discretion?” Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears Yahweh is to be praised.” Solomon is training his son. He is saying “Stay away from these women!” Their beauty hides their lack of discretion; their lack of judgment. Yes, Eve was a beautiful woman, but she accepted the serpent’s lies. You can marry a beautiful woman, but if she is like a ring on the pig’s nose always rubbing itself on the mud, then that is your destiny also. She will bring you down. She will bring your business down. She will bring your name and reputation down. Men, be discerning! You are called to marry for life! Be wise! By all means marry a woman to whom you are attracted, but don’t let that attraction substitute or replace her ability to discern and judge correctly, rather may she fear Yahweh and may her fear be the basis of her beauty.
Finally, Solomon says true wealth and abundance comes through giving. Listen to verses 24-25:
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
If you want true wealth, then give. These are very paradoxical statements. These are very Solomonic observations. The rich man who gives gets even richer. The man who withholds ends up lacking. The generous man is a man of blessing. The one who nurtures others will himself be nurtured.
The idea of giving implies someone who gives freely and liberally. Solomon does not offer a definition here of what that giving entails, but applications abound. There are societal, Church, charity, marital implications. Any of these applications are appropriate in this passage.
On the matter of charity, there is no doubt that the best use of charity is done locally. Who betters knows our neighbors than ourselves? Who better knows the needs of each other in the congregation than the individual in that congregation? Who better is aware of those needs than the ones called to serve others in the Church?. One way we use the tithes of the people of God is by directing it to benevolence. Individual, Church, Communal giving is much more effective than our monies being distributed from some unknown, unwise hand at the top.
But not only is this giving monetary, it is also selfless. How much should we give of ourselves? As much as we possibly can. We are not to allow people to take advantage of our giving to our own detriment, but we are called to give ourselves again and again. It is remarkable what happens when a conversation goes beyond the typical greetings. We are actually able to delve into people’s lives; to know their needs and pain. How can we comfort if we do not know people need comfort?
Will you bring blessing? Will you embody blessing? If you do so, you will grow all the richer.
How Now Shall We Then Live?
We see in verse 25 that there is a principle of reaping what you sow. If you water, that is, if you nurture others, you will be nurtured and watered yourself. By giving we are reaping joy. By selfless service we are reaping wealth. The principle of faith is that when we invest in others we are actually investing in ourselves. We are made to participate in the nurture of others. We are created to bring the taste of heaven to the lives of those whose heaven seems so far off.
And what more can we say, except that our Lord Jesus himself is the fulfillment of these verses, and in fact of all of Proverbs. He became the vindication of the righteous by becoming the spotless lamb sacrificed for our sakes. He is the beautiful Savior whose character is blameless. There is no contradiction in Him. And finally, Jesus is the paradigm of selflessness. He was exalted because He gave and gave and gave until the point of death.
Jesus Christ is the eternal giver, the wealth of the nations, the selfless King, the beautiful Savior, the blameless Man of God, the water given to nurture His people, and the embodiment of blessing. May His Name be blessed forever and forever, Amen.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
 Paul E. Koptak, The NIV Application Commentary, 322.
 Yad to yad
 All judgment is eschatological in Proverbs. It is true that evil may be punished and justice may be seen in this life, but for many, justice is ultimately eschatological.
 Following previous verses, “mercy” refers to the hesed of God.
 Koptak, 323
 The analogy can also refer to women who wore nose rings in the Middle East.
 Interesting that Solomon is encouraging his son to give of what he has. He does not say “give away the possessions of the kingdom, which are the fruits of the labors of others.”