Proverbs 13:19

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.

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Man could be perpetually happy, but most men despise the way to happiness and success. The greatest source of human fulfillment and joy is found in righteousness, truth, and wisdom. When a man obtains these things, it is the sweetest accomplishment on earth. But most men despise these things so much and love sin instead that they refuse to even pursue the reward. They hate and loathe the thought of giving up their sinful lifestyle.

Here is a proverb of Solomon ā€“ a dark saying of the wise ā€“ needing interpretation (Pr 1:6). The desire accomplished is not desires in general, for that teaches little wisdom of value, and it does not fit with the disjunctive conjunction, “but.” The desire accomplished is not lustful greed of fools, for that would directly violate the disjunctive. Though all men and fools have pleasure meeting goals or fulfilling lusts, such is not taught here.

The interpretive key is the word “but,” which places the first clause in adversative contrast to the second clause. “But” in this usage is a disjunctive conjunction, joining two clauses set in opposition to each other. The desire accomplished must be the holy desire of the righteous by virtue of it being sweet to the soul and set in opposition to the evil of fools in the parallel clause (Pr 10:24; 11:23). Consider this carefully before proceeding.

The desire of a righteous man is to increase in righteousness, truth, and wisdom (Pr 4:7; 16:6; 18:1; 23:23). These are the goals for his life, and they produce enormous pleasure and profit when they are achieved (Pr 3:13,18,35; 4:8-9; 22:4; 29:18). The pleasure of walking with God and living a holy life far exceeds the superficial joys of the fool, even when he seems to be basking in prosperity (Pr 10:22; Ps 4:6-8; 43:4; 63:3-5; I Pet 1:8).

The sweetest accomplishment is to be resurrected from the dead and be in heaven enjoying your eternal inheritance with God the Father and Jesus Christ. That was truly Abraham’s only goal (Heb 11:8-16). The Psalmist thought it was better than the pleasures of this life (Ps 17:14-15; 49:6-20; 73:1-26). And so did Paul (Phil 1:23; 3:8-11; II Cor 5:6-8). Where does it rank among your goals? And what have you done to secure it?

Solomon observed that fools hate the idea of leaving their sins. They cannot see the great reward they are missing, and they refuse to deny themselves any of the pleasures their lusts crave. They deceive themselves that their sins are pleasing and profitable. They pursue sin greedily to their own destruction. They cannot do right. They cannot and will not seek God any more than an Ethiopian can change his skin color or the leopard his spots (Ps 36:1-4; Is 26:10; Jer 13:23; 17:9; Rom 1:18-32; 3:10-18; 8:7-8; Eph 4:17-19).

The lesson is quite simple. There is a strait gate (think straitjacket) and narrow way that leads to life, and only a few men find it. It may involve some sacrifices of self-denial now, but the sweet rewards later are much greater. There is a wide gate and broad way that leads to destruction, and most men choose it instead (Matt 7:13-14). Fools continue to return to folly like dogs to their vomit and pigs to wallowing in mud again (Pr 26:11).

If you desire godliness, God has done a great work to cause you to love what you once hated and to hate what you once loved (Phil 2:12-13). He will fulfill your desire, and it will be precious sweetness to your soul. But all the wicked shall be punished and destroyed for their folly in rejecting God’s offer of righteousness, truth, and wisdom. You can prove to yourself whether this is true of you or not by eight things (II Pet 1:5-11).