Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Spoiled Spoils

Proverbs 16:19

It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.

The second line gives the context for this subject of pride and humility – to divide the spoil with the proud. It is better to be oppressed than to be an oppressor; it is better to be without, than to take away from others. The proud, or arrogant, in Proverbs is equated with the wicked, who in their arrogance oppress others and commit crimes. This proverb says that such gain is not worth the price. For the price is not a mere matter of being hindered in getting along in life; it is receiving the judgment of God.

We are given the image of a gang of men dividing the spoils they took after defrauding or beating up some victim. The victim is bemoaning his loss or even lying on the road, while the proud thieves rejoice over their treasure. The Teacher, though, shakes his head, trembling not over the fate of the victim but of the perpetrators, for he knows the judgment coming for them. It may be soon through the hands of human justice; it may be in death or after death. But it is coming, and better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to be found with the spoil in your hands before God.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God,” David wrote in Psalm 53. "They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good” (v. 1). He then asks this question: "Have those who work evil no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God?" (v. 4)

What are the wicked thinking? Evidently they think either there is no God who exists, or more likely the case in the ancient world and Israel, they think God doesn’t see what they are doing. They think they are getting away with their crime. Many think that way today. They cheat and lie and do not get caught. They profit from taking advantage of others, and their road is as smooth riding as ever. Traveling through life is a pleasant drive.

But what are they thinking? Don’t they realize that the odds are against them of the road remaining smooth? That more than likely they will become victims themselves of the same crimes they have committed? They should realize that, whatever happens, the road will end, and they will have to give an account to God who will judge with justice, not mercy.


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