Proverbs 11:5-6

Proverbs 11:5-6 "The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness."
Proverbs 11:5-6 Church East Aurora NY
The books of Solomon should be viewed differently than the books of Moses.  Good and bad are listed in the books of Moses while they are explained in the books of Solomon.  Righteousness is commanded in the book of Exodus while it is comprehended in the book of Proverbs.  Wickedness is denounced in the book of Deuteronomy while it is dissected in the book of Proverbs.  The books of Moses told the Jewish people what to do and what not to do while the books of Solomon told them why.

These verses explain the reason why God wants His people to choose righteousness over wickedness. These verses clearly connect a person’s success in life to their morality.  Righteousness points a person in the right direction while wickedness causes a person to fall.  Righteousness delivers a person from trouble while wickedness gets a person into trouble.  While these basic truths are important to understand, there is something more important to learn from these proverbs.  These verses essentially say the same thing with interchangeable words and because of that literary makeup, one should be able to see the emphasis Solomon places on personal morality.  In both verses, he contrasts the benefits of personal righteousness with personal wickedness.

In verse 5, the perfect finds direction from his OWN righteousness while the wicked falls as a result of his “OWN” wickedness.
In verse 6, the upright man enjoys deliverance by his OWN righteousness while the transgressor is taken in his “OWN” naughtiness.

Solomon is emphasizing the importance of personal morality in a theocratic society.  Unlike our present society, Israel was designed to be a theocracy, or a society governed by priests on God’s behalf.  Even though it was officially a monarchy at the time of Solomon’s writings, the monarchy was governed by the theocracy.  As a theocratic society, Israel should’ve had leaders who made laws and established policies that resulted in a righteous society.  As such, it would’ve been easy for an Israeli citizen to trust that the righteousness of the nation’s priests and leaders would be enough to bring God’s blessings to all of society.  In such a scenario, there would be a real temptation to minimize personal morality.  Knowing human nature so well, Solomon knew how easy it would be for his Jewish readers to be lazy and careless about their personal morality since the nation was designed and led to be righteous as a whole.

The wise king wanted his Hebrew brothers and sisters to understand that a king’s righteousness would not direct a farmer’s way.  He wanted his people to know that a priest’s righteousness would not deliver an indebted mother.  He wanted his people to know that someone else’s righteousness brings little benefit to those around them.  He wanted his readers to know that a priest’s righteousness may positively impact a nation but it does very little for the individuals within the nation.  Take Aaron, the first high priest, as an example.  He was very righteous and positively led the nation for many years.  His righteousness, as good as it was for him and for the nation, did very little to direct his sons and did nothing to deliver them from the wrath of God when they offered strange incense in the tabernacle.

The wise king wanted his audience to know that personal morality primarily bears personal fruit.  What we sow in our lives almost only bears fruit in our lives.  Our righteousness primarily directs us and only us.  Our wickedness primarily hurts us and only us.  Our righteousness can influence others but it only directs us.  Our wickedness can impact others but it only destroys us.  As parents, reading the Bible and going to church can keep us out of trouble and that will positively impact our children but reading the Bible and going to church won’t keep our children out of trouble.  They have to read the Bible and embrace church when we take them there for those things to keep them out of trouble.  This is why so many children from good families get into serious trouble.  A parent’s morality is not nearly as impactful to a child as that child’s morality.  As parents, infidelity and drunkenness can ruin us and that will negatively impact our children but doing evil things won’t ruin our children.  What will ruin our children is when they choose sexual sin and substance abuse.  Many great children have come out of bad homes and many bad children have come out of great homes.  Why?  Because personal morality is more important than societal morality.

It's within human nature to minimize personal morality because of societal morality.  If there are bad people around us, we feel like we can blame them if things go bad.  If there are good people around us, we feel like we can reap the benefits of their goodness.  If we say something evil, we quickly blame someone else for doing something evil to us.  If we don’t go to church, we quickly convince ourselves that it’s ok since our parents go or because our spouse goes or because our children go.  If the culture we’re living in begins to decline, we blame our leaders and take no responsibility for it.  If the church we’re worshipping in begins to grow, we credit our leaders and can equally take no responsibility in it.

Our King wants us to learn what this Jewish king wanted his people to learn – personal morality is the only morality that makes or breaks us.  It’s no one else’s fault when WE get into moral trouble.  No one else’s righteousness will help US get out of moral trouble.  Our OWN righteousness directs US.  Our OWN righteousness delivers US.  Our OWN wickedness hurts US.  Our OWN naughtiness enslaves US.
 
Don’t rely on someone else’s successful walk with God to keep you out of trouble and don’t blame someone else’s failed walk with God for getting you into trouble.

When you read these proverbs, think of the old spiritual song, “It’s ME, it’s ME O Lord.”  
It's ME, it's ME O Lord,
Standin' in the need of prayer;
It's ME, it's ME O Lord,
Standin' in the need of prayer.
Not my brother, not my sister, but it's ME, O Lord,
Standin' in the need of prayer;
Not the preacher, not the deacon, but it's ME, O Lord,
Standin' in the need of prayer;
Not my father, not my mother, but it's ME, O Lord,
Standin' in the need of prayer;
Not the stranger, not my neighbor, but it's ME, O Lord,
Standin' in the need of prayer;
It's ME, it's ME O Lord,

Standin' in the need of prayer.

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