Day 24: Do not envy evil men (24:1)
“Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them”
We can link that today’s text nicely with what we read yesterday: “Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off” (23:17). Continuing, our wise man gives a good reason for not envying the bad guy, who for all his pretentions and ability to gain a following: “for their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief” (24:2). He focuses our attention onto what truly matters – concerning how we need to build in our lives: “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established” (24:2). He then goes on to talk about the virtues of the wise and the rewards of the way of wisdom, comparing it with a critique of the way of the fool and the destructive end of foolishness. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief” (24:16). And just in case we miss the punch of today’s text, the points are further reinforced: “Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked: For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out” (24:19,20)
Today’s text ties in with an often repeated themes of the Psalms, which begins with: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” Psalm 1:1. It seems the Psalmist, often David before he became king, was obsessed with the wicked; not only because of their attacks on the righteous but they seemed to get away with it, for example: “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (37:1-5). The writer of the Psalms, like Proverbs, was all too well aware that the bad people attracted foolish people to flock to their side, often because they did thrive, at least for a season. The reality is that today the bad person is just as, if not more, likely to hold positions of influence and esteem than the good person. But the wise take a long-term view knowing that whatever the price they have to pay that walking in the way of wisdom is far better than even touching the way of the wicked.
Prayer: We are sorry for the times we have envied and fretted ourselves over evil men. May we stand with the poor and the righteous. We thank you even when the just man falls he is able to get up. May we ever seek your kingdom.