Proverbs 24:16

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.


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God has not promised a bed of roses for good men. In fact, to make a good man perfect, the Lord often brings adversity into his life. When the wicked see all the problems, they presume he is down for the count; they gloat in their apparent success to defeat him. But the Lord will raise up the just man again, and He will put down the wicked man, forever.

The context is important here. Solomon defied wicked men to plan evil against the righteous. He said, “Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place” (Pr 24:15). It is the ancient conflict between the wicked and the righteous. He plainly tells the wicked not even to think about doing anything to disturb the peace of just men. And the proverb before you gives the fearful reason why!

Though a just man may have afflictions in his life, the Lord will deliver him out of them all (Job 5:17-27; Ps 34:19). The righteous cry unto the Lord in their troubles, and He delivers them out of every one (Ps 34:6,17). He holds them by the hand, and He lifts them up from their troubles (Ps 37:24). But the proverb’s ellipsis – the missing words – declare that the wicked shall fall into mischief, and they shall not be delivered or helped at all.

Joseph’s wicked brothers conspired against him. They spoiled his rest by selling him as a slave into Egypt. They gloated in their triumph over him. They thought they had gotten rid of him forever. But the blessed Lord was rapidly raising him up again to the throne of Egypt, and they would bow before him in fear for their lives in just a few years. Glory!

Satan conspired against Job. He begged God for permission to disturb his peaceful life. And God gave him permission. Satan successively took Job’s assets, income, real estate holdings, family, and then his health. But the Lord still held Job’s hand, and He sent Elihu to correct his wrong thinking. The Lord raised him up again and gave him double.

Poor Hannah had no children. Her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, gloated over her and persecuted her for a barren womb. This wicked woman tormented Hannah and caused her to fret. It appeared Hannah was down for good. But the Lord raised her up again and gave her Samuel – the great judge and prophet of Israel and five other children as well.

David sinned horribly. He alone was responsible. His enemies lay wait against him, even his sons Absalom and Adonijah. Shimei cursed him publicly for being a bloody man. But the Lord forgave David, raised him up again, and destroyed all his enemies without any mercy. He blessed David to oversee the coronation of Solomon and great peace on Israel.

Daniel’s enemies lay wait against him. They searched for any faults they could find in his professional and personal conduct; they found none. They deceived Darius to make a law against Daniel’s religion. Daniel broke the law and was cast to the lions. They celebrated and gloated. But God raised him up again and threw them down to horrific destruction.

Ah, Christian reader! Is there any reason for you to fret or worry about your present circumstances? Do you know of enemies laying wait against you? Possibly gloating over your troubles? If you are walking uprightly, the blessed Lord will deliver you from your afflictions and troubles as surely as he delivered the several examples you just read about.

David was the man after God’s own heart – the figure of the Lord Jesus Christ; he had more adversity and setbacks – fell more times – than any other man in the Old Testament. Yet the Lord raised him up again and again, many more times than seven. You may read about his enduring great confidence in the Lord (Ps 3:1-8; 27:1-14; 46:1-11; 118:1-18).

Paul was the greatest apostle of Christ, but had more tribulations and persecutions – fell more times – than any other man in the New Testament. But God raised him up again, even from the dead (Acts 14:19-22)! Yet he was never in distress or despair (II Cor 4:8-9). He had a list of sufferings that are difficult even to read, but he rejoiced in them all (II Cor 11:23 – 12:10). Read of his great confidence in God (II Tim 4:16-18; Heb 13:5-6).

Satan, the Jews, the Romans, Herod, and Pilate lay wait against Jesus Christ. They condemned Him at law. They crucified Him. They confirmed His death by a centurion. They watched Him get buried. They posted a guard at His tomb. It appeared He had fallen to never recover. They celebrated and gloated together at ridding themselves of this Man, Who had exposed their hypocrisy and destroyed their religious and political sham.

But the blessed God “raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:20-21). Satan and his angels are not looking forward to their appointed day of torment.

The Jews were utterly destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and the Romans were overrun by the Goths in 476 AD. Herod and Pilate’s bodies are rotting in the earth, and their souls are suffering in hell. They have fallen into horrific and permanent mischief, and there is no deliverance. And they shall soon bow their knees and confess that Jesus is Lord of all.

Let the wicked beware! There is hell to pay for messing with the righteous. Though the just man may fall from time to time, the High King of Heaven will raise him up again.

Let the righteous rejoice! There is no reason to fret or worry, even when you have fallen to adversity or sin. Put your trust in the Lord, for He will lift you up in due time.