The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
Let the wicked suffer instead of you! Fair enough? God will save you from trouble and punish the wicked instead, if you live righteously. He makes a difference among men by protecting those who live godly lives and judging the wicked in their place. Wonderful!
There is a reward for a righteous man (Ps 58:11). God delivers him from trouble, and He puts the wicked in his place. When a righteous man is saved out of a calamity, God redirects the judgment and trouble against wicked men (Pr 24:15-16). The LORD loves the righteous, and He sacrifices the wicked for him (Pr 21:18). Wonderful!
What is the lesson? God blesses and favors those who obey Him, and He judges and punishes those who do not. If you are on the Lord’s side, He will protect and prosper you, but He will despise and destroy His enemies. This is the God of the Bible, though most do not know Him. The crucial point is that you are convicted to live a godly life for Him.
The LORD has not promised the righteous will not have troubles, but He has promised to deliver them from those troubles (Job 5:17-27; Ps 34:4-7,17-19; 50:14-15; 66:12; 91:14-16). You can see Jacob, Joseph, David, Job, Daniel, Paul, and others delivered out of trouble (Gen 39:1-3; 48:15-16; II Sam 22:1; Job 42:10-17; Dan 1:17-21; II Tim 4:17).
This proverb teaches the divine reversal of fortune that replaces the righteous with the wicked. The righteous often find themselves in a hopeless situation, for the profit of their souls by God’s providence. And the wicked are sometimes involved in persecuting them in their troubles, but God then switches their cases and leaves the wicked to destruction.
Pharaoh and Egypt thought they could abuse the Israelites living in their nation. He tried to kill their children; he overworked them without compensation; he mocked Moses and Moses’ God. What happened? God moved Israel to Canaan, ravaged the nation by a variety of plagues, killed Pharaoh’s son and the firstborn in every family, confiscated the nation’s wealth for Israel’s back pay, and drowned the army in the Red Sea. Wonderful!
Haman plotted in hatred to hang Mordecai on gallows he had built for the purpose, but God delivered Mordecai, and Haman was hung in his place (Esther 7:9-10). Instead of Mordecai twitching with a snapped neck, it was Haman. Understanding Christians have rejoiced with smiles at this reversal of fortune for centuries. But that was not all; before he got to hang, Haman had to lead Mordecai through the streets for special honor.
Wicked Medes in the government of Darius conspired and had Daniel thrown in a den of lions for his faith in God and daily prayers. But they and their families ended up being ravaged and eaten by the same lions that the previous night had no interest in Daniel (Dan 6:24). This is redirected violence perfectly suitable for families of the wicked.
Nebuchadnezzar’s best soldiers were burned alive by the very flames they had prepared for Daniel’s three friends (Dan 3:22). They overheated their furnace for capital crimes, and it burned them to death while not even singeing the hair of the three. They had purposed they would not participate in false religion, and God delivered them for it.
Sixteen Roman soldiers died instead of Peter by the Lord’s glorious deliverance of him from prison (Acts 12:18-19). The angel of God woke Peter during the night and saved him from his planned execution the next day, but the foolish soldiers loyal to Rome died in his place. The proverb before you is very true. Are you one of the righteous?
The righteous are so precious in God’s affections that He will gladly sacrifice the wicked for them (Is 43:3-4). Israel was sure they were doomed when trapped against the Red Sea by Pharaoh’s armies (Ex 14:10-12), but the LORD delivered them gloriously through it and drowned Pharaoh’s army in it (Ex 14:21-31). Consider the celebratory song and dance of Israel in light of the fulfillment of this proverb (Ex 15:1-21). Wonderful!
Peninnah, the cruel wife with children, persecuted Hannah for being barren (I Sam 1:1-6). But the Lord gave Hannah favor in the eyes of her husband, Samuel as her first child, and five more children as well (I Sam 1:7-8,19-28; 2:21). Peninnah lived out her days knowing her husband loved Hannah far more, knowing the greatest man in Israel was Hannah’s son, and daily seeing and hearing Hannah’s other five happy children.
Saul persecuted David horribly, chasing him with large forces into wild places of Israel, where David was in constant fear for his life. Yet the LORD brought war against Israel by the Philistines to save His righteous servant David (I Sam 23:19-29). Would you rather die the death of Saul (I Sam 31:1-13), or the death of David (II Sam 23:1-5)?
Jesus Christ was betrayed, persecuted, falsely accused, abused, and finally crucified between common thieves. Yet He was delivered from death to God’s right hand, and His enemies were miserably destroyed (Matt 21:33-46; 22:1-7; Luke 19:27). For the death of one Man, more than one million Jews were starved or killed in the siege of Jerusalem.
Enemies have persecuted and troubled good Christians for two thousand years, but their Lord is coming soon to rectify the situation, when there will be a great reversal of fortune lasting through eternity (II Thess 1:3-10; Rev 6:9-17). The smoke of their enemies’ eternal torment will rise into heaven as incense for a perpetual reminder (Rev 14:10-12).
There is a reward for the righteous. There is no need to fret because of the prosperity or the persecutions of the wicked. They do not see their day coming, but the righteous do. The LORD laughs about what He will do to the wicked (Ps 2:1-12; 37:12-13), and the righteous should laugh with Him (Ps 52:1-7; 58:6-11). Are you one of the righteous?