Monday, October 17, 2016

Proverbs 10:24 --- Dread and Desire


Proverbs 10:24
What the wicked dreads will come upon him,
    but the desire of the righteous will be granted.

Verse 23 has given us some insight into the heart of the wicked.  The fallen heart likes to sin and finds pleasure in it.  Proverbs 10:24 now gives us further insight into the heart of the wicked, telling us that fear is fundamental to the human soul after the fall.

The fear of the wicked is not the good fear of fearing the Lord (Proverbs 1:7).  Rather, it is the fearful dread of the Lord's judgment.  Just as Adam and Eve hid from the Lord's presence in fear after their sin (Genesis 3:8-10), so the sinful heart still has this terror and dread.  Commenting on Psalm 14:5 ("they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous"), Donald Williams writes, "Even though they deny God, they live with underlying anxiety.  Either this anxiety or fear is unconscious, or they know well that God is with the righteous after all, and that evil workers cannot escape Him."  Speaking of the same dread of the wicked in Psalm 53:5, Williams writes, "The reason [for the fear] is not simply God's presence with the righteous.  Rather, the reason for the fear is God's judgment."[1]

The fear of death and judgment is real and universal.  As Eric Lane writes, "The psychologist will try to persuade [the wicked] these fears are unreal, derived from the primitive past of the human race or an over-strict upbringing.  But the truth of God is that these fears are justified.  Even if he escapes misfortune in this life, he cannot avoid death 'and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).'"[2]

Hebrews 2:15 tells us about this fearful anxiety of judgment and death, and speaks of "those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery."  Like criminals imprisoned by lust  and idolatry while awaiting trial, the fallen human race desperately grabs for life wherever it can find it.  But not seeking it from Him who is the sole source of life, they seek it in created things, and become enslaved to these idols.  It is the fear of death and judgment that engenders the attitude so common to fallen sinners: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (1 Corinthians 15:32).  But neither Satan's lie, "You will not surely die" (Genesis 3:4), nor man's false bravado, nor the psychologist's denial, nor eating and drinking can rid the human soul of the truth of God's judgment.  While our society tries to remove every reminder of the triune God from sight, the task is futile, for how can one truly escape an omnipresent and omniscient God?

Ironically, what the wicked dread and the righteous desire, is the same thing, namely, the Lord!  After man's rebellion, the human race's plight is pictured in the story of the prodigal son.  The prodigal son wants nothing to do with his father, and so he goes to a far country to try to find pleasure in created things (Luke 15:11-13).  While the older son looks a bit better outwardly, he also wants to enjoy "life" apart from the father with his friends (Luke 15:29).  Neither son wants to live in the father's house in intimate communion with him.  The prodigal seeks joy in wild "living," but the older brother seeks his joy apart from the father also.

The human race was created to live in the Father's house.  We were created to live in intimate union and communion with God our Father.  But our rejection of his word has led to our great fall.  We now no longer desire our Father, and we live under and await his judgment.  What can we do?  Can we return?

The answer is yes! because the Father in his grace sent his Son to remove the death and judgment we deserve.  At the cross, Jesus suffered sin's penalty and the anguish of hell in our place.  We can return to the Father by receiving and welcoming his Son into our lives, and when we do, the judgment that was hanging over our heads all our lives is removed, so that we might find true joy and peace in our heavenly Father's house.  No longer do our hearts need to be haunted by anxiety and dread, for Jesus suffered and died in our place, and Jesus will replace our unwillingness to live with the Father by willingness when we put our faith in him:

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" (John 14:1-2).

Life as a criminal awaiting sentence while enslaved to idols which disappoint (Luke 15:14-17), or acceptance and joyful living in the Father's house, whose Son in gracious love has made room for you.  This is the choice we are given.
                                    
                                                                                



                                                                       


                                            






[1] Donald M. Williams, The Preacher's Commentary: Psalms 1-72, vol. 13, 122-123.
[2] Eric Lane, Proverbs, 85.                                             

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