The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.
Be sure your sin will find you out (Nu 32:23). Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Gal 6:7). These two inspired rules are confirmed by this proverb. Wisdom is a life of righteousness; folly is naughtily breaking God’s laws. The former leads to deliverance; the latter brings pain and trouble.
One of the great principles of wisdom is the certain and sure consequences for both righteousness and wickedness. Solomon repeated this rule many times to get the attention of his son and citizens. In this chapter alone, compare this proverb to others very similar in their wording and their lesson (Pr 11:3,4,5,7,8,10,12,19,20,21,23,27,28,31).
The repetition is not wasted. Check your heart, dear reader. Is there a tendency to think Solomon’s proverbs like this one are boring? Would you rather read and consider one about love, business, relationships, or wealth? Be careful. The density and distribution of these proverbs are also by divine wisdom. The repetitions of the rule above are necessary.
Love, business, relationships, and wealth will take care of themselves, if you live a wise life of righteousness. Your heart is cold toward righteousness due to sin yet in your body. And the devil himself suggests anything he can to distract you from learning and growing in righteousness. Furthermore, the world only suggests and sells naughtiness; it never promotes righteousness. Three foes conspire to destroy you. Solomon was not redundant.
An upright person does what is right, as defined by God, all the time, and with zeal. This is righteousness. They are delivered or saved from the pain and trouble of sin, both in this world and in the next. A transgressor is a naughty person who breaks God’s laws, and he wallows and eventually drowns in the misery of his choice, in this world and/or the next.
Consider this world. The upright man learns and applies the righteous laws of God to his life. God and men favor him, and he prospers and succeeds in life, delivered from the delusions and dysfunction of others (Pr 3:1-4; Josh 1:7-9; Ps 1:1-6; Luke 2:52). But the transgressor, deceived by his naughtiness, falls into all sorts of trouble, for God, men, and natural laws are set together to crush him with its consequences (Pr 1:31; 8:36; 13:15).
Consider the next world. The upright man, with fruits of righteousness proving his regeneration and salvation, gains entrance to heaven by God’s free grace in Jesus Christ (I Thess 1:2-4; II Pet 1:5-11). But the transgressor, wishing he had never been born, faces the dread sovereign Judge of the universe with folly, pride, rebellion, and many other sins to be punished during an eternity in the lake of fire (Eccl 12:13-14; Rev 20:11-15; 21:8).
Learn to connect the dots in your life, where the dots are the choices and events of your life. If you rebel against Bible wisdom and foolishly follow the world, you will suffer painful and punishing results. If you fear God and live by the Bible, you will be protected and prospered. Learn to connect your choices to the good or bad events that follow.
Joseph made many wise choices regarding his father, brothers, Potiphar, and Pharaoh; but he had several providential setbacks in his life. There likely were some times that he wondered if his righteous living was worth it. But if you connect the dots, where did they end for Joseph? He was ruler of Egypt and able to save and provide for his whole family.
Samson was a young man like Joseph, but he would not listen to his parents and marry a virtuous girl from Israel. He wanted a Philistine girl instead. He had several providential victories in his life by his great strength. He may have thought he was getting away with his sexual sins. But if you connect the dots, where did they end for Samson? He was betrayed by his last Philistine lover, had his eyes put out, and then committed suicide.
You are placing dots on the map of your life today. If you are naughty and reject God’s wisdom and the instruction of authorities in your life, your future will be painful and full of trouble. Others will be able to connect the dots to explain what caused your misery and failure. But if you are upright and live righteously today, there is an expected end for you that will be glorious, which others will know resulted from your righteous living.