The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
Good guys finish first. Sinners finish last. The righteous are rewarded, often in this world, and always in the next. God does not miss a thing, and He rewards men for their deeds. He honors and promotes good men, and He humbles and destroys evil men. He exalts the righteous man, so that the wicked must come to him for counsel, help, mercy, or prayer.
The lesson is not literal bowing, though that does occur at times. The lesson is that God makes a difference in men’s lives based on how they live. He will exalt and promote good men, and He will crush and humble wicked men, so that they are reduced to begging or envying the blessed estates and lives of the righteous. Good guys finish first!
But the Bible teaches there is none good, no, not one (Ps 14:1-3; Matt 19:17; Rom 3:12). Yes, it does teach that, but it also teaches this proverb, so you must rightly divide the word of truth (II Tim 2:15). No man is inherently good in himself, for all are naturally depraved. However, by the grace of God in regeneration, some are given a new nature, and by that new nature they can do much good (Eph 2:1-10; 4:24; Heb 13:16; Jas 4:17).
Grasp the lesson. Men often reason that being good does not pay, for evil men seem successful (Mal 3:14-15). This thinking is dangerous and wrong (Pr 24:19-20; Ps 37:1-40; 73:1-28). Wisdom looks beyond temporary appearances and measures success by broad rules and permanent results. This view shows good guys always finish first. Do not worry about a colleague getting ahead while sinning. He may be at your doorstep soon.
You may say, what about Cain and Abel? The good man had to bow before the evil man and beg for his life. Reader, consider. Abel went to heaven. Cain’s life was hard. The Bible and history despise Cain and honor Abel. Cain will bow before Abel at the great Day of Judgment before being cast into the lake of fire. And the same could be said for the rich man and Lazarus (Lu 16:20). Wisdom does not judge by temporary appearances.
There is a reward for the righteous, often in this world, and always in the next (Ps 58:1-11; 49:14; Mal 4:1-3; I Cor 6:2). The proverb is not a universal rule now, but it certainly will be later. Yet, it is often fulfilled literally in this life. Never fret about the prosperity of evil men, for God can and will reverse things now and/or later. His eyes see the evil and the good, and He shows Himself strong on behalf of the good (Pr 15:3; II Chr 16:9).
Haman thought he was on the political fast track in the Persian Empire, but he was soon bowing – and then hanging – before Mordecai and Esther. Eli was not a good father, so his descendant Abiathar ended up bowing and begging from righteous Zadok. Joseph had his day when both Egypt and his wicked brothers bowed before him in fear. Sisera bowed at the feet of Jael. Job’s three friends had to beg him to pray for their forgiveness.
Young David was ignored and mocked by his older brothers, but they were soon reduced to mere princes in his kingdom. King Saul bowed before him as well. Pharaoh ended his life paying Moses to leave Egypt and begging for breath in the Red Sea. Daniel’s conspiring competitors were eaten by the lions they had planned for him. The Philippian jailor bowed before Paul and Silas, and the city rulers gently begged them to leave town.
Reader, learn the wisdom here. Do not fret about the apparent success of wicked persons around you. God will most certainly bring them to bow before your feet in the great Day of Judgment, but He may also do it now as well. Keep your heart with all diligence, remembering that there is a reward for righteousness (Mal 3:16-18). If circumstances seem contrary to this rule, it is only for other purposes, and it is only for a short time.
If you honor God with your life, He will honor you (I Sam 2:30). Believe it! God will reward you according to the way you live (Ps 18:19-27). Promotion comes from the Lord, and it eventually comes to the righteous (Ps 76:6-10). Do not worry about the corporate ladder. God is able to take you past those above you, if you live righteously before Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ comforted Gentile believers in Asia with the knowledge that He would cause the Jews to bow before them and know He had truly loved them (Rev 3:9). But greater than this, every knee shall bow before the Lord Jesus Christ, even all His enemies and those who blaspheme Him in word and deed every day (Phil 2:9-11). Humble yourself before Him, repent of your sins, and beg for mercy today (Matt 21:44).