Pondering the Principles of Proverbs
There is so much in this verse that we should take time to consider; but I won't do that. I'll simply focus on the two possible meanings that we could use to apply this to our lives and beliefs.
Interesting, to say the least. Very interesting.
It seems that no one questions the reality or the justice of bad things happening to bad people; but the idea that life is not fair in relation to the so-called good people has exercised almost everyone's mind.
Some raise the question with the idea of karma in mind, but then answer their own question with the realization that even good people do bad things and reap what they sow.
Others, however, raise the question from a quasi-Christian viewpoint thinking "if I'm a good person, why does God allow bad things to happen to me?" There is so much wrong with that question that it is difficult discuss intelligently. For your consideration, though, I will offer this: notice the assumption that is made about God's control.
I say "quasi-Christian," because the idea of good things and bad things stacking up for my favor with God in this life is unscriptural at best.
However, the verse under consideration is only remotely related to the concept of bad things happening to good people.
The first half of the verse needs little in the way of explanation for believers. We know that the way of the Lord is secure, steadfast, and safe. We know it, because we have put it to the test. We have experienced the reality of finding strength in following His ways.
It is the last half of the verse that we may argue over, even though I will present two possible applications of its intent.
The first application is the most obvious--the ways of God ruins evil people. It is their destruction.
It saddens me that so many Christians gloat over situations that seem to fulfill this verse. "He got his!" There is a proverb that we will get to later that says we should not be glad when bad things happen to bad people.
Let's look more deeply into the last half of this verse: ... but it (the way of the Lord) is the ruin of those who do evil.
The way of the LORD is a stronghold to those with integrity, but it destroys the wicked (New Living Translation)
The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers. (English Standard Version)
The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright, But ruin to the workers of iniquity. (New American Standard Bible)
...and so on and so forth.
Some translations, to be sure, render this differently and would support the idea that evil doers will be destroyed because of the way of the Lord.
The few I have quoted from among many that present this same thought seem to have a little deeper meaning.,
It is not so much about the wicked person being destroyed, but rather his ways.
And, if you understand this, this is tremendously GOOD NEWS!
The way of the Lord is absolute ruin for any and all who would dare to try a different path. And that ruin is godly. It brings about a change from one way to another.
Any person who begins to walk the way of the Lord will find their old life ruined, unrecognizable.
God's grace destroys the old way as the new way is adopted.
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