Proverbs 11:8

Proverbs 11:8 "The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead."
Proverbs 11:8 Elma NY Baptist Church
Theology has almost always been pestered by our obsession with the idea that our righteousness should exempt us from trouble.  There is something within the human mind that automatically assumes that bad things should only happen to bad people.  At first glance, it would appear that Solomon was teaching exactly that through this proverb.  Considering the framework of the Jewish Law, it wouldn’t be out of Jewish character for Solomon to be leaning in that theological direction either.  But was Solomon teaching that righteous people are delivered from trouble and never experience bad circumstances?  Was Solomon teaching that only wicked people get “in trouble?”  

Because every word of God is pure” (Proverbs 30:5), we need to examine every word of God” in this proverb.  Solomon did not write, “the righteous is delivered FROM trouble,” instead he wrote, “the righteous is delivered OUT of trouble.”  Clearly then, this proverb does not teach or suggest that the righteous are exempt from trouble in this life.  On the contrary, the Bible speaks of the universal inevitability of trouble in the Book of Job.  Job 5:7, “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”  Job 14:1, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”  Trouble is unavoidable in our world.  Trouble is a part of life for each of us – it arrives early and accompanies us to death.  We can increase trouble in our lives by foolishness, wickedness and carelessness but it will come even in the absence of those mistakes.  Nowhere in the Bible, including in this proverb, are the righteous excused from trouble.  In the fact, the Bible paints many pictures of the righteous smack dab in the middle of trouble.  The Psalmist often referred to his “day of trouble” or to his “time of trouble.”

Psalm 102:2, “Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am IN trouble.”
Psalm 59:16, “But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge IN the day of MY trouble.”
Psalm 77:2,IN the day of MY trouble I sought the Lord.”
Psalm 20:1, “The LORD hear thee IN the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee.”
Psalm 9:9, “The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge IN times of trouble.”
Psalm 27:5, “For IN the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion.”
Psalm 37:39, “But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength IN the time of trouble.”

In this proverb, Solomon is teaching what Scripture teaches – not that God keeps the righteous FROM trouble, but that God gets the righteous OUT of trouble. To get OUT of trouble means one is already IN trouble.  In this life, we find our own trouble by immorality and ignorance.  In this life, trouble also finds us.  In this life, we can open the door to trouble but it can also knock down the door and enter into our lives without our permission.  Life hands the righteous trouble by “time and chance (Ecclesiastes 9:11) and sinners share their trouble with the righteous by their covetousness and pride.  Righteousness may prevent unnecessary trouble but politicians can still bring trouble into a righteous person’s life by crafting bad laws or by destroying the economy.  Righteousness may prevent trouble but a drunk driver or a careless driver can still bring trouble into a righteous person’s life by causing an accident.  Trouble finds us so easily because our world is an ongoing chain of events created by billions of sinners.

The truth of this proverb is not that righteousness keeps us FROM trouble but that it delivers us OUT of trouble when we find ourselves IN trouble.  Consider Noah, Daniel and Job, who were three of the most righteous men in human history at the time of Ezekiel.  All three men were known for the trouble they found themselves IN.  Although Noah was righteous, he found himself IN serious trouble with God pronouncing global destruction during his day.  He was facing the judgment of God on his life, family and world all because of the wicked deeds of his peers.  Although Daniel was righteous, he found himself IN serious trouble with a pride of lions surrounding him.  He was facing certain death by hungry felines all because of the evil schemes of envious politicians.  Although Job was righteous, he found himself IN serious trouble with unimaginable loss and severe pain.  He was facing the greatest time of trouble any man could endure as the result of God’s refining fire.  The most righteous men of our world faced the most troublesome times in our world.  They weren’t immune to trouble.  They weren’t protected FROM trouble.  They weren’t prevented FROM the day of trouble.  At times in their righteous lives, they found themselves deep IN trouble.
But each of them were delivered OUT of that trouble.  Because they were righteous, they stayed faithful to God IN their trouble.  Because they were righteous, they stayed focused on God IN their trouble.  God delivered Noah by boat, Daniel by hunger and Job by pity.  Noah was delivered OUT of trouble after spending nearly a year on the boat.  Daniel was delivered OUT of trouble after a night with the lions.  Job was delivered OUT of trouble after days of dealing with miserable comforters.

Righteousness doesn’t always avert trouble but it always attracts God while in trouble.   At the same time, wickedness doesn’t always immediately attract trouble but it will eventually end in trouble.  Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  This is what Solomon was teaching in the second part of his proverb.  As God delivers the righteous from trouble, the wicked inherit the seat vacated by the righteous in trouble.  In each of the three righteous men mentioned by Ezekiel, someone got IN TROUBLE as the righteous got delivered OUT of trouble.  For Noah, the world’s population remained IN trouble with God.  For Daniel, his conspirators found themselves IN trouble with the King and were thrown IN the lion’s den.  For Job, his so-called “friends” found themselves IN trouble with God for their lack of wisdom and help.

Morality doesn’t always factor in life’s troubles but it does always factor in God’s role in life’s troubles.  The Book of Esther illustrates this proverb best when telling the story of Haman and Mordecai.  These two men did not like each other because of their ethnicity as one was an Israelite and the other an Agagite.  Haman was an evil politician while Mordecai was a righteous public servant.  Haman intended to destroy the Jewish people in the kingdom and made special provision for Mordecai’s demise by building gallows to hang him on.  Mordecai found himself IN trouble and for “no good reason.”  His righteousness didn’t keep him FROM trouble but it did help him get delivered OUT of trouble as God placed a beautiful woman in the king’s life – Mordecai’s adopted daughter!  Eventually, God would use Esther to help deliver Mordecai OUT of trouble and then to punish Haman for his evil doings.  Haman would die in Mordecai’s “STEAD” on the gallows.  God was not mocked – what Haman sowed, he reaped.
Righteousness will not result in a trouble-free life but it will attract Divine deliverance in times of trouble.  Wickedness certainly won’t produce a trouble-free life either but it will summon Divine destruction in times of trouble.  It’s a no-brainer then – choose righteousness!





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