Proverbs 11:23

Proverbs 11:23 "The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath."
Proverbs 11:23 Church Buffalo NY
Sometimes, Solomon’s proverbs come across as mere observations with little insight or elaboration.  It’s very common for Solomon in this book to make a statement contrasting two moral parties without explaining or applying that statement.  The reader is left wondering why he made the statement.  The reader is left wondering what it really means and ultimately, how it applies to himself.  This proverb is one of those proverbs.  What was the point of writing down the difference between the desire of the righteous and the expectation of the wicked?  Was it intended to simply help us discern the righteous from the wicked?  Was it intended to help us discern what type of person we are by our desires and expectations?  Or was it just an observation that he felt important enough to write down?  

Given the wisdom God gave Solomon and given the design of Scripture, we must always look at the proverbs as opportunities to see something deeper beneath the surface.  Before ever reading this proverb, nearly everyone would know that the righteous and the wicked are vastly different.  Before ever reading this proverb, nearly everyone would expect the righteous to desire good things and most would conclude that the wicked have anger issues.  In light of these widely held beliefs, why did Solomon take the space to write down this proverb?  Was it meant to simply confirm the obvious moral differences between the righteous and the wicked?  Or was it meant to teach a slightly deeper truth that we all could apply to our lives?  I conclude the latter.
In this proverb, Solomon contrasts the DESIRE of the righteous to the EXPECTATION of the wicked but we should immediately realize that desire and expectation are not the same thing.  I can desire competent and cordial lawmaking in Washington but I probably shouldn’t expect it.  I can desire tropical weather in Buffalo in January but I probably shouldn’t expect it.  I can desire a million dollars showing up in my bank account today but I definitely shouldn’t expect it.  Why did Solomon contrast two different things?  A man as wise as Solomon and more importantly, a man inspired by the Spirit of God should know that a true legitimate contrast must compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.  Like apples and oranges, desire and expectation are in the same family but they are not the same thing.  We can conclude then that Solomon is teaching something about the connection between desire and expectation.

Expectation is further down the line than desire.  Desire creates hope and hope creates expectation.  Expectation then gives way to preparation. We prepare for what we expect.  A large part of our expectation is formed by what we hope for.  We hope for what we desire.  So many Bills' fans DESIRE a Super Bowl and because they desire that, they HOPE that every new season will be the Super Bowl season.  That hope then helps a fan see all of the positive moves the team made in the off-season.  That hope combined with some sense of reality produces EXPECTATION.  Many Bills' fans expected to win a Super Bowl this season, or at least to win the Divisional round of the playoffs and PREPARED to go to Atlanta this weekend for the AFC Championship.  We prepare for what we expect and whether we like it or not, we often expect what we hope for, which is ultimately traced back to our desire.  Beneath the surface of this proverb, Solomon is teaching us something very important.  He is teaching us that we typically and even unconsciously prepare for what we desire.  Beneath the surface of this proverb is the sobering truth that we see what we want to see in life.  What we see in people is what we want to see in people.  What we anticipate in relationships is often what we want in relationships.  What we prepare for is oftentimes, what we want to happen.
Written on the backside of the proverb is the truth that PASSION PRECEDES PERSPECTIVE.

The wicked expect wrath because deep down in their heart, they desire conflict.  Evil men expect and prepare for a marital fight because deep down in their heart, they want a marital fight.  Evil men don’t love their wives.  Evil men want an opportunity to hurt their wives.  Cruel people prepare for heated conflict because cruel people love conflict as it brings them the opportunity to hurt feelings or even faces.  Contentious people will predict contention in relationships because deep down, they love contention.  Warmongers prophesy and prepare for war because they desire war.

On the contrary, this proverb informs us that a righteous person desires “only good.”  This means that the expectation of the righteous will almost always be good.  A righteous man desires a good marriage and as a result, will hope for a good marriage.  That hope brings expectations of a good marriage.  A righteous man in such a case will prepare for a lifetime of love.  He won’t build in protections against loss into his marital legal documentations.  He won’t have a romantic back-up plan.  He won’t jump to conclusions when there is friction.  He doesn’t expect wrath in their marriage and therefore, doesn’t prepare for wrath in their marriage.  A righteous man has a perspective that feeds marital success because he has a desire for marital success.  Righteous souls don’t expect relationships to fail because they don’t want them to fail.  Righteous people don’t even expect relationships with unusual or challenging people to fail because they don’t want them to fail.  They don’t want relationships with anyone to fail because they desire “only good.”  The righteous don’t expect conflict in their relationships because they don’t desire conflict – they don’t expect conflict because they plan on doing everything possible to avoid conflict.
Passion Precedes Perspective.

We can discern what type of person we are by looking at our own expectations in life.  If we’re constantly expecting relationships to fail in our life, that is most likely because we want them to fail and don’t even realize it.  If you’re expecting a fight from someone, there is a very good chance that you want a fight with that person.  If you’re expecting wrath in a particular scenario, there is a good chance you want conflict in that scenario.  In recent years where doomsday prophesying and preparing has dramatically increased, it has been my observation that those who are doing the prophesying and preparing are the ones who actually desire doomsday.  More and more, I can see that the people who expect our society to fail actually want it to fail.  More and more, I can see the people who expect chaos to come are the ones who actually have an appetite for it.  

Let’s not fool ourselves, “the heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9).  Our expectations are shaped largely by our desires.  Over time, we convince ourselves that our hopes will come true; hopes that are based entirely on our desires.  How we view our world is a direct consequence of what we want in our world.  This is ultimately why Solomon wrote this proverb because it teaches us that our morality is what ultimately leads to our outlook on life.  The righteous have “only good” desires while the wicked have only evil desires.  These passions produce the perspectives in our lives. 





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