Proverbs 13:19 ESV
Disaster pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good.
To those who have read this blog series before, the theme of this verse will not be unfamiliar. The world is canted towards virtue; God’s creation despises vice. These two truths, sides of the same coin as they are, run throughout Proverbs, as it counsels virtue not just for moral but for practical reasons. These two truths, of course, would be easily disproved if they were asserted to be apparent in every minutia. Virtue brings blessings, and vice curses, but very often this dictum seems true only in the long term, only in history’s (or God’s) eye, only after so much evil has attended the righteous, so much pleasure the wicked.
So far, so good, but that’s not the entire import of the verse, not when we read it carefully. This verse, in fact, hints at why these truths so often become apparent only in the long term. Disaster, according to this verse, ‘pursues’; good is a reward to the righteous. These two terms- ‘pursue’ and ‘reward’- must be considered carefully.
What does the word ‘pursues’ imply regarding disaster and regarding the sinners pursued? Disaster, if it is pursuing, has not yet struck, at least not in its final form. Like an earthquake, it may have sent a few ripples through the sinner’s life, but these may easily be warnings, presaging a greater destruction yet to come. This should not be taken to imply that all sinners are being pursued right now, even the dead ones. Like many verses in Proverbs, this is a statement of pattern. Disaster is pursuing sinners right now, but some sinners have already been caught. Of course, in the final judgement (Rev. 20:15), the great disaster will catch up to all whom God has not redeemed; there lies the final consummation of this verse, the fulfillment of the truth that, ultimately, disaster pursues the sinner even now.
This gets to a second dimension, one which becomes apparent when the whole counsel of scripture is considered: disaster pursuing sinners is a universal truth of reality. All sinners, small and great, are pursued. Why? Because the Lord our God is a just God (Deuteronomy 32:4). Even the sin of His people He chastises, though this discipline is not pain which leads to death but to a greater and more beauteous life (Heb. 12:11). Sin invites destruction, after all, and by the grace of God alone is any man saved from its wages, which are death both physical and eternal (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:15).
What does the word ‘rewarded’ imply regarding the righteous and regarding the good which is to them promised? Rewards aren’t generally immediate. Rewards are also generally awarded for doing something difficult- say, climbing a mountain at break-neck speed or solving a math problem nobody’s been able to figure out. They are given, in other words, for perseverance through suffering towards a goal. This definition should track remarkably well with the Christian’s life. Does not Paul say in 1 Corinthians 9:24 that we run a race that we might obtain the prize, which is a life unperishing (9:25)? Are we not urged in Hebrews 12:1-2 to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith”?
Life on this earth is often… unpleasant. For some, it is literally tortuous. For others, the trials are less tangible. Regardless, God has set before us a prize, a reward, of eternal joy in His presence. Furthermore, He has promised us a comfort in this life, which bears us ever closer to the next. In the words of John Newton, “The Lord has promised good to me; His Word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.” As every single verse of Psalm 136 states, the steadfast love of God endures forever. He does not leave His people or forsake them; He does not forget their troubles or leave them alone in his afflictions (Ps. 34:17, 46:1). Indeed, all these things He works for their eternal good, for the perfecting of their souls before Him (Romans 8:28; Hebrews 12:1-2,7-11).
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.