The Fate of the Wicked – Proverbs 10:17-11:31

“The righteous will never be removed, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.” (Proverbs 10:30 ESV)

Our journey through Proverbs has taken us inside the heart of a father who is lovingly concerned for the well-being of his children. Like Solomon, our heavenly Father is totally invested in our lives. But God’s care for us doesn’t stop at our last breath. We reap what we sow, but ultimately the Lord is in control. That is, when we reap sin we will naturally sow corruption, but God gives grace that super-abounds. While God is pleased to give this grace, by its very nature the grace is unearned and therefore he is under no obligation to give it. Constant rejection of the Lord can lead to a withholding of grace; and, left to our own devices, human beings will reap the fate they deserve, not only in this life, but in the life to come.

Solomon uses precepts, principles, and warnings, and often times repeats them, because he sees the big picture that his children do not yet see. He wants his children to walk in righteousness because “the righteous will never be removed” (10:30a). He knows that the one who “heeds instruction is on the path to life” (10:17a). He knows the “righteous is delivered from trouble (11:8a), will “flourish like a green leaf” (11:28b) and will be “repaid on earth” (11:30). A good father wants all this for his children!

The same father is also deeply disturbed at what lies ahead if his son chooses to ignore the proverbs. The wicked “leads others astray” (10:17b), dies “for lack of sense” (10:21b), will “not dwell in the land” (10:30b), and “will not go unpunished” (11:21a). This section of the Proverbs should be read as though a parent is writing through tears a letter of warning to his child!

The passage stretching from 10:17 through 11:31 is large, and our longest text yet. As noted in earlier studies, we could simply create entire messages from each verse. But while this lengthy portion may contain many invaluable truths, it holds together with the common theme of consequences for behavior. Several times through these verses, we are confronted with the fate of those who choose to live one way or another. For the wicked, the fool, the sinner, these consequences are eternal.

As we consider the terrible fate of the wicked, let our minds be drawn back to Christ. If not for the grace of God in Christ, we would suffer the same fate. May this truth also motivate us to preach the gospel to those who are headed toward destruction. Finally, may God use this word to convict stony hearts and call sinners to repentance.

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